Psalm 78-79 The Message Bible

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God's Faithfulness to His Unfaithful People

78 1  Listen, dear friends, to God's truth, bend your ears to what I tell you. 2  I'm chewing on the morsel of a proverb; I'll let you in on the sweet old truths, 3  Stories we heard from our fathers, counsel we learned at our mother's knee. 4  We're not keeping this to ourselves, we're passing it along to the next generation - God's fame and fortune, the marvelous things he has done. 5  He planted a witness in Jacob, set his Word firmly in Israel, Then commanded our parents to teach it to their children 6  So the next generation would know, and all the generations to come - Know the truth and tell the stories 7  can trust in God, Never forget the works of God but keep his commands to the letter. 8  Heaven forbid they should be like their parents, bullheaded and bad, A fickle and faithless bunch who never stayed true to God.

9  The Ephraimites, armed to the teeth, ran off when the battle began. 10  They were cowards to God's Covenant, refused to walk by his Word. 11  They forgot what he had done - marvels he'd done right before their eyes. 12  He performed miracles in plain sight of their parents in Egypt, out on the fields of Zoan. 13  He split the Sea and they walked right through it; he piled the waters to the right and the left. 14  He led them by day with a cloud, led them all the night long with a fiery torch. 15  He split rocks in the wilderness, gave them all they could drink from underground springs; 16  He made creeks flow out from sheer rock, and water pour out like a river. 17  All they did was sin even more, rebel in the desert against the High God. 18  They tried to get their own way with God, clamored for favors, for special attention. 19  They whined like spoiled children, "Why can't God give us a decent meal in this desert? 20  Sure, he struck the rock and the water flowed, creeks cascaded from the rock. But how about some fresh-baked bread? How about a nice cut of meat?" 21  When God heard that, he was furious - his anger flared against Jacob, he lost his temper with Israel. 22  It was clear they didn't believe God, had no intention of trusting in his help. 23  But God helped them anyway, commanded the clouds and gave orders that opened the gates of heaven. 24  He rained down showers of manna to eat, he gave them the Bread of Heaven. 25  They ate the bread of the mighty angels; he sent them all the food they could eat. 26  He let East Wind break loose from the skies, gave a strong push to South Wind. 27  This time it was birds that rained down - succulent birds, an abundance of birds. 28  He aimed them right for the center of their camp; all round their tents there were birds. 29  They ate and had their fill; he handed them everything they craved on a platter. 30  But their greed knew no bounds; they stuffed their mouths with more and more. 31  Finally, God was fed up, his anger erupted - he cut down their brightest and best, he laid low Israel's finest young men. 32  And - can you believe it? - they kept right on sinning; all those wonders and they still wouldn't believe! 33  So their lives dribbled off to nothing - nothing to show for their lives but a ghost town. 34  When he cut them down, they came running for help; they turned and pled for mercy. 35  They gave witness that God was their rock, that High God was their redeemer, 36  But they didn't mean a word of it; they lied through their teeth the whole time. 37  They could not have cared less about him, wanted nothing to do with his Covenant. 38  And God? Compassionate! Forgave the sin! Didn't destroy! Over and over he reined in his anger, restrained his considerable wrath. 39  He knew what they were made of; he knew there wasn't much to them,

40  How often in the desert they had spurned him, tried his patience in those wilderness years. 41  Time and again they pushed him to the limit, provoked Israel's Holy God. 42  How quickly they forgot what he'd done, forgot their day of rescue from the enemy, 43  When he did miracles in Egypt, wonders on the plain of Zoan. 44  He turned the River and its streams to blood - not a drop of water fit to drink. 45  He sent flies, which ate them alive, and frogs, which bedeviled them. 46  He turned their harvest over to caterpillars, everything they had worked for to the locusts. 47  He flattened their grapevines with hail; a killing frost ruined their orchards. 48  He pounded their cattle with hail, let thunderbolts loose on their herds. 49  His anger flared, a wild firestorm of havoc, An advance guard of disease-carrying angels 50  to clear the ground, preparing the way before him. He didn't spare those people, he let the plague rage through their lives. 51  He killed all the Egyptian firstborns, lusty infants, offspring of Ham's virility. 52  Then he led his people out like sheep, took his flock safely through the wilderness. 53  He took good care of them; they had nothing to fear. The Sea took care of their enemies for good. 54  He brought them into his holy land, this mountain he claimed for his own. 55  He scattered everyone who got in their way; he staked out an inheritance for them - the tribes of Israel all had their own places. 56  But they kept on giving him a hard time, rebelled against God, the High God, refused to do anything he told them. 57  They were worse, if that's possible, than their parents: traitors - crooked as a corkscrew. 58  Their pagan orgies provoked God's anger, their obscene idolatries broke his heart. 59  When God heard their carryings-on, he was furious; he posted a huge No over Israel. 60  He walked off and left Shiloh empty, abandoned the shrine where he had met with Israel. 61  He let his pride and joy go to the dogs, turned his back on the pride of his life. 62  He turned them loose on fields of battle; angry, he let them fend for themselves. 63  Their young men went to war and never came back; their young women waited in vain. 64  Their priests were massacred, and their widows never shed a tear. 65  Suddenly the Lord was up on his feet like someone roused from deep sleep, shouting like a drunken warrior. 66  He hit his enemies hard, sent them running, yelping, not daring to look back. 67  He disqualified Joseph as leader, told Ephraim he didn't have what it takes, 68  And chose the Tribe of Judah instead, Mount Zion, which he loves so much. 69  He built his sanctuary there, resplendent, solid and lasting as the earth itself. 70  Then he chose David, his servant, handpicked him from his work in the sheep pens. 71  One day he was caring for the ewes and their lambs, the next day God had him shepherding Jacob, his people Israel, his prize possession. 72  His good heart made him a good shepherd; he guided the people wisely and well.

A Lament over the Destruction of Jerusalem

79 1  God! Barbarians have broken into your home, violated your holy temple, left Jerusalem a pile of rubble! 2  They've served up the corpses of your servants as carrion food for birds of prey, Threw the bones of your holy people out to the wild animals to gnaw on. 3  They dumped out their blood like buckets of water. All around Jerusalem, their bodies were left to rot, unburied. 4  We're nothing but a joke to our neighbors, graffiti scrawled on the city walls. 5  How long do we have to put up with this, God? Do you have it in for us for good? Will your smoldering rage never cool down?

6  If you're going to be angry, be angry with the pagans who care nothing about you, or your rival kingdoms who ignore you. 7  They're the ones who ruined Jacob, who wrecked and looted the place where he lived. 8  Don't blame us for the sins of our parents. Hurry up and help us; we're at the end of our rope. 9  You're famous for helping; God, give us a break. Your reputation is on the line. Pull us out of this mess, forgive us our sins - do what you're famous for doing! 10  Don't let the heathen get by with their sneers: "Where's your God? Is he out to lunch?" Go public and show the godless world that they can't kill your servants and get by with it. 11  Give groaning prisoners a hearing; pardon those on death row from their doom - you can do it! 12  Give our jeering neighbors what they've got coming to them; let their God-taunts boomerang and knock them flat. 13  Then we, your people, the ones you love and care for, will thank you over and over and over. We'll tell everyone we meet how wonderful you are, how praiseworthy you are!

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