A maskil of Asaph.
78.1 Attend, my people, to my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.
78.2 I will open my mouth in a parable,* unfold the puzzling events of the past. [ a ]
78.3 What we have heard and know; things our ancestors have recounted to us. [ b ]
78.4 We do not keep them from our children; we recount them to the next generation, The praiseworthy deeds of the LORD and his strength, the wonders that he performed. [ c ]
78.5 God made a decree in Jacob, established a law in Israel: [ d ] Which he commanded our ancestors, they were to teach their children;
78.6 That the next generation might come to know, children yet to be born. [ e ] In turn they were to recount them to their children,
78.7 that they too might put their confidence in God, And not forget God’s deeds, but keep his commandments.
78.8 They were not to be like their ancestors, a rebellious and defiant generation, [ f ] A generation whose heart was not constant, [ g ] and whose spirit was not faithful to God.
78.9 The ranks of Ephraimite archers,* retreated on the day of battle.
78.10 They did not keep God’s covenant; they refused to walk according to his law.
78.11 They forgot his deeds, the wonders that he had shown them.
78.12 In the sight of their ancestors God did wonders, in the land of Egypt, the plain of Zoan. * [ h ]
78.13 He split the sea and led them across, [ i ] making the waters stand like walls. [ j ]
78.14 He led them with a cloud by day, all night with the light of fire. [ k ]
78.15 He split rocks in the desert, gave water to drink, abundant as the deeps of the sea. [ l ]
78.16 He made streams flow from crags, caused rivers of water to flow down.
78.17 But they went on sinning against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert. [ m ]
78.18 They tested God in their hearts, demanding the food they craved. [ n ]
78.19 They spoke against God, and said, "Can God spread a table in the wilderness? [ o ]
78.20 True, when he struck the rock, water gushed forth, the wadies flooded. But can he also give bread, or provide meat to his people?”
78.21 The LORD heard and grew angry; [ p ] fire blazed up against Jacob; anger flared up against Israel.
78.22 For they did not believe in God, did not trust in his saving power.
78.2 3*So he commanded the clouds above; and opened the doors of heaven.
78.24 God rained manna upon them for food; grain from heaven he gave them. [ q ]
78.2 5 Man ate the bread of the angels;* food he sent in abundance.
78.26 He stirred up the east wind in the skies; by his might God brought on the south wind.
78.27 He rained meat upon them like dust, winged fowl like the sands of the sea,
78.28 They fell down in the midst of their camp, all round their dwellings.
78.29 They ate and were well filled; he gave them what they had craved.
78.30 But while they still wanted more, and the food was still in their mouths,
78.31 God’s anger flared up against them, and he made a slaughter of their strongest, laying low the youth of Israel. [ r ]
78.32 In spite of all this they went on sinning, they did not believe in his wonders.
78.33 God ended their days abruptly, their years in sudden death.
78.34 When he slew them, they began to seek him; they again looked for God. [ s ]
78.35 They remembered* that God was their rock, God Most High, their redeemer.
78.36 But they deceived him with their mouths, lied to him with their tongues.
78.37 Their hearts were not constant toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant. [ t ]
78.3 8*But God being compassionate forgave their sin; he did not utterly destroy them. Time and again he turned back his anger, unwilling to unleash all his rage. [ u ]
78.39 He remembered that they were flesh, a breath that passes on and does not return.
78.40 How often they rebelled against God in the wilderness, grieved him in the wasteland.
78.41 Again and again they tested God, provoked the Holy One of Israel.
78.42 They did not remember his power, the day he redeemed them from the foe, [ v ]
78.4 3*When he performed his signs in Egypt, his wonders in the plain of Zoan. [ w ]
78.44 God turned their rivers to blood; their streams they could not drink.
78.45 He sent swarms of insects that devoured them, [ x ] frogs that destroyed them.
78.46 He gave their harvest to the caterpillar, the fruits of their labor to the locust.
78.47 He killed their vines with hail, [ y ] their sycamores with frost.
78.48 He exposed their cattle to plague, their flocks to pestilence. [ z ]
78.49 He let loose against them the heat of his anger, wrath, fury, and distress, a band of deadly messengers.
78.50 He cleared a path for his anger; he did not spare them from death, but delivered their animals to the plague.
78.51 He struck all the firstborn of Egypt, [ aa ] the first fruits of their vigor in the tents of Ham.
78.52 Then God led forth his people like sheep, guided them like a flock through the wilderness. [ bb ]
78.53 He led them on secure and unafraid, while the sea enveloped their enemies. [ cc ]
78.54 And he brought them to his holy mountain, the hill his right hand had won. [ dd ]
78.55 He drove out the nations before them, allotted them as their inherited portion, and settled in their tents the tribes of Israel.
78.56 But they tested and rebelled against God Most High, his decrees they did not observe.
78.57 They turned disloyal, faithless like their ancestors; they proved false like a slack bow.
78.58 They enraged him with their high places, and with their idols provoked him* to jealous anger.[ ee ]
78.59 God heard and grew angry; he rejected Israel completely.
78.60 He forsook the shrine at Shiloh, * [ ff ] the tent he set up among human beings.
78.61 He gave up his might into captivity, his glorious ark into the hands of the foe. [ gg ]
78.62 God delivered his people to the sword; he was enraged against his heritage.
78.63 Fire consumed their young men; their young women heard no wedding songs. [ hh ]
78.64 Their priests fell by the sword; their widows made no lamentation.
78.65 Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, like a warrior shouting from the effects of wine.
78.66 He put his foes to flight; everlasting shame he dealt them.
78.67 He rejected the tent of Joseph, chose not the tribe of Ephraim.
78.6 8*God chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which he loved. [ ii ]
78.69 He built his shrine like the heavens, like the earth which he founded forever.
78.70 He chose David his servant, took him from the sheepfolds. [ jj ]
78.71 From tending ewes God brought him, to shepherd Jacob, his people, Israel, his heritage. [ kk ]
78.72 He shepherded them with a pure heart; with skilled hands he guided them.
* [Psalm 78] A recital of history to show that past generations did not respond to God’s gracious deeds and were punished by God making the gift into a punishment. Will Israel fail to appreciate God’s act -- the choosing of Zion and of David? The tripartite introduction invites Israel to learn the lessons hidden in its traditions (Ps 78:1–4, 5–7, 8–11); each section ends with the mention of God’s acts. There are two distinct narratives of approximately equal length: the wilderness events (Ps 78:12–39) and the movement from Egypt to Canaan (Ps 78:40–72). The structure of both is parallel: gracious act (Ps 78:12–16, 40–55), rebellion (Ps 78:17–20, 56–58), divine punishment (Ps 78:21–31, 59–64), God’s readiness to forgive and begin anew (Ps 78:32–39, 65–72). While the Psalm has been thought to reflect the reunification program of either King Hezekiah (late eighth century) or King Josiah (late seventh century) in that the Northern Kingdom (Ephraim, Joseph) is especially invited to accept Zion and the Davidic king, a postexilic setting is also possible. Notable is the inclusion of the David-Zion tradition into the history of Israel recounted in the sources of the Pentateuch.
* [78:2] Parable: Hebrew mashal literally refers to some sort of relationship of comparison and can signify a story whose didactic potential becomes clear in the telling, as here in the retrospective examination of the history of Israel. Mt 13:35 cites the verse to explain Jesus’ use of parables.
* [78:9] Ephraimite archers: Ephraim was the most important tribe of the Northern Kingdom. Its military defeat (here unspecified) demonstrates its infidelity to God, who otherwise would have protected it.
* [78:12, 43] Zoan: a city on the arm of the Nile, a former capital of Egypt.
* [78:23–31] On the manna and the quail, see Ex 16 and Nm 11. Unlike Ex 16, here both manna and quail are instruments of punishment, showing that a divine gift can become deadly because of Israel’s apostasy.
* [78:25] Bread of the angels: The translation "angels” comports with the supernatural origin of the manna, though the Hebrew lechem ‘abbirim is more literally translated as "bread of the strong ones” or "bread of the mighty.” In the context of the manna event, this phrase cannot possibly mean the Israelites or any human being.
* [78:35] Remembered: invoked God publicly in worship. Their words were insincere (Ps 78:36).
* [78:38] God is always ready to forgive and begin anew, as in choosing Zion and David (Ps 78:65–72).
* [78:43–55] Ex 7–12 records ten plagues. Here there are six divine attacks upon Egypt; the seventh climactic act is God’s bringing Israel to the holy land.
* [78:58] Provoked him: lit., "made him jealous.”
* [78:60] Shiloh: an important shrine in the north prior to Jerusalem. Despite its holy status, it was destroyed (Ps 78:60–64; cf. Jer 7:12, 14).
* [78:68, 70] God’s ultimate offer of mercy to the sinful, helpless people is Zion and the Davidic king.
a. [78:2] Ps 49:5; Mt 13:35.
b. [78:3] Ps 44:2.
c. [78:4] Ex 10:2; Dt 4:9; Jb 8:8.
d. [78:5] Ps 147:19; Dt 33:4.
e. [78:6] Ps 22:31–32; Dt 4:9; 6:7.
f. [78:8] Dt 31:27; 32:5.
g. [78:8] Ps 95:10.
h. [78:12] Ps 106:7.
i. [78:13–14] Ps 136:13; Ex 14–15.
j. [78:13] Ex 14:22; 15:8.
k. [78:14] Ps 105:39; Ex 13:21; Wis 18:3.
l. [78:15] Ps 105:41; 114:8; Ex 17:1–7; Nm 20:2–13; Dt 8:15; Wis 11:4; Is 48:21.
m. [78:17] Dt 9:7; Ez 20:13.
n. [78:18] Ps 106:14; Ex 16:2–36.
o. [78:19] Ps 23:5.
p. [78:21f] Nm 11; Dt 32:22.
q. [78:24] Ps 105:40; Ex 16:4, 14; Dt 8:3; Wis 16:20; Jn 6:31.
r. [78:31] Nm 14:29.
s. [78:34] Dt 32:15, 18; Is 26:16.
t. [78:37] Ps 95:10; Is 29:13.
u. [78:38] Ps 85:4; Ex 32:14; Is 48:9; Ez 20:22.
v. [78:42] Ps 106:21.
w. [78:43f] Ps 105:27–36; 135:9; Ex 7:14–11:10; 12:29–36; Wis 16–18.
x. [78:45] Ex 8:17.
y. [78:47] Wis 16:16.
z. [78:48] Ex 9:3.
aa. [78:51] Ps 105:36; 136:10; Ex 12:29.
bb. [78:52] Ps 77:21.
cc. [78:53] Ex 14:26–28.
dd. [78:54] Ex 15:17.
ee. [78:58] Dt 32:16, 21.
ff. [78:60] Jos 18:1; 1 Sm 1:3; Jer 7:12; 26:6.
gg. [78:61] 1 Sm 4:11, 22.
hh. [78:63] Dt 32:25; Jer 7:34.
ii. [78:68] Ps 48:2; 50:2; Lam 2:15.
jj. [78:70] Ps 89:21; Ez 34:23; 37:24; 2 Chr 6:6.
kk. [78:71] 1 Sm 16:11–13; 2 Sm 7:8.
A psalm of Asaph.
79.1 O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. [ a ]
79.2 They have left the corpses of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of those devoted to you for the beasts of the earth. [ b ]
79.3 They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and no one is left to do the burying. [ c ]
79.4 We have become the reproach of our neighbors, the scorn and derision of those around us. [ d ]
79.5 How long, LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealous anger keep burning like fire? [ e ]
79.6 Pour out your wrath on nations that do not recognize you, on kingdoms that do not call on your name, [ f ]
79.7 For they have devoured Jacob, laid waste his dwelling place.
79.8 Do not remember against us the iniquities of our forefathers; let your compassion move quickly ahead of us, for we have been brought very low. [ g ]
79.9 Help us, God our savior, on account of the glory of your name. Deliver us, pardon our sins for your name’s sake. [ h ]
79.10 Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" [ i ] Before our eyes make known to the nations that you avenge the blood of your servants which has been poured out. [ j ]
79.11 Let the groaning of the imprisoned come in before you; in accord with the greatness of your arm preserve those doomed to die. [ k ]
79.12 Turn back sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors the insult with which they insulted you, Lord. [ l ]
79.13 Then we, your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
* [Psalm 79] A communal lament complaining that the nations have defiled the Temple and murdered the holy people, leaving their corpses unburied (Ps 79:1–4). The occasion is probably the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army in 587 B.C. The people ask how long the withdrawal of divine favor will last (Ps 79:5), pray for action now (Ps 79:6–7), and admit that their own sins have brought about the catastrophe (Ps 79:8–9). They seek to persuade God to act for reasons of honor: the nations who do not call upon the Name are running amok (Ps 79:6); the divine honor is compromised (Ps 79:1, 10, 12); God’s own servants suffer (Ps 79:2–4, 11).
a. [79:1] 2 Kgs 25:9–10; Lam 1:10.
b. [79:2] Jer 7:33.
c. [79:3] 1 Mc 7:17; Jer 14:16.
d. [79:4] Ps 44:14; 80:7; 123:3–4; Jb 12:4; Dn 9:16; Zep 2:8.
e. [79:5] Ps 13:2; 44:24; 89:47; Dt 4:24.
f. [79:6] Ps 14:4; Jer 10:25.
g. [79:8] Ps 142:7.
h. [79:9] Ez 20:44; 36:22.
i. [79:10] Ps 42:4; 115:2; Jl 2:17.
j. [79:10] Jl 4:21.
k. [79:11] Ps 102:21.
l. [79:12] Ps 89:51–52.
1 For the leader; according to "Lilies.” Eduth.* A psalm of Asaph.
2 O Shepherd of Israel, lend an ear, you who guide Joseph like a flock! Seated upon the cherubim, shine forth [ a ]
3 upon Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh. Stir up your power, and come to save us.
4 O God, restore us; light up your face and we shall be saved. [ b ]
5 LORD of hosts, how long will you smolder in anger while your people pray? [ c ]
6 You have fed them the bread of tears, made them drink tears in great measure.* [ d ]
7 You have left us to be fought over by our neighbors; our enemies deride us. [ e ]
8 O God of hosts, restore us; light up your face and we shall be saved.
9 You brought a vine* out of Egypt; you drove out nations and planted it.
10 You cleared out what was before it; it took deep root and filled the land.
11 The mountains were covered by its shadow, the cedars of God by its branches.
12 It sent out its boughs as far as the sea,* its shoots as far as the river.*
13 Why have you broken down its walls, so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit? [ f ]
14 The boar from the forest strips the vine; the beast of the field feeds upon it. [ g ]
15 Turn back again, God of hosts; look down from heaven and see; Visit this vine,
16 the stock your right hand has planted, and the son* whom you made strong for yourself.
17 Those who would burn or cut it down— may they perish at your rebuke.
18 May your hand be with the man on your right,* with the son of man whom you made strong for yourself.
19 Then we will not withdraw from you; revive us, and we will call on your name.
20 LORD God of hosts, restore us; light up your face and we shall be saved.
* [Psalm 80] A community lament in time of military defeat. Using the familiar image of Israel as a vineyard, the people complain that God has broken down the wall protecting the once splendid vine brought from Egypt (Ps 80:9–14). They pray that God will again turn to them and use the Davidic king to lead them to victory (Ps 80:15–19).
* [80:1] Lilies…. Eduth: the first term is probably the title of the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung; the second is unexplained.
* [80:6] Both the Septuagint and the Vulgate translate this verse in the first person, i.e., "You have fed us the bread of tears.”
* [80:9] A vine: a frequent metaphor for Israel, cf. Is 5:1–7; 27:2–5; Jer 2:21; Hos 10:1; Mt 21:33.
* [80:12] The sea: the Mediterranean. The river: the Euphrates, cf. Gn 15:18; 1 Kgs 5:1. The terms may also have a mythic nuance—the seas that surround the earth; sea and river are sometimes paralleled in poetry.
* [80:16] The Vulgate and Septuagint use "son of man.”
* [80:18] The man on your right: the Davidic king who will lead the army in battle.
aa. [80:2] Ps 23:1–3; 95:7; 100:3; Gn 48:15; Ex 25:22; 1 Sm 4:4; 2 Sm 6:2; Mi 7:14.
bb. [80:4, 8, 20] Ps 4:7; 31:17; 67:2; 85:5; Nm 6:25; Dn 9:17.
cc. [80:5] Ps 13:2; 44:24; 74:1; 79:5; 89:47; Dt 4:24.
dd. [80:6] Ps 42:4; 102:10.
ee. [80:7] Ps 44:14; 79:4; 123:3–4; Jb 12:4; Dn 9:16; Zep 2:8.
ff. [80:13] Ps 89:41.
gg. [80:14] Hos 2:14.
For the leader; "upon the gittith."* Of Asaph.
2 Sing joyfully to God our strength; raise loud shouts to the God of Jacob! [ a ]
3 Take up a melody, sound the timbrel, the pleasant lyre with a harp.
4 *Blow the shofar at the new moon, at the full moon, on our solemn feast. [ b ]
5 For this is a law for Israel, an edict of the God of Jacob, [ c ]
6 He made it a decree for Joseph when he came out of the land of Egypt.
7 *I heard a tongue I did not know: "I removed his shoulder from the burden;* his hands moved away from the basket.* [ d ]
8 In distress you called and I rescued you; I answered you in secret with thunder; At the waters of Meribah* I tested you: [ e ]
9 ‘Listen, my people, I will testify against you Selah If only you will listen to me, Israel! [ f ]
10 There shall be no foreign god among you;*g you shall not bow down to an alien god.
11 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. Open wide your mouth that I may fill it.’
12 But my people did not listen to my words; Israel would not submit to me.
13 So I thrust them away to the hardness of their heart; ‘Let them walk in their own machinations.’ [ h ]
14 O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways, [ i ]
15 In a moment I would humble their foes, and turn back my hand against their oppressors. [ j ]
16 Those who hate the LORD will try flattering him, but their fate is fixed forever.
17 But Israel I will feed with the finest wheat, I will satisfy them with honey from the rock." [ k ]
* [Psalm 81] At a pilgrimage feast, probably harvest in the fall, the people assemble in the Temple in accord with the Sinai ordinances (Ps 81:2–6). They hear a divine word (mediated by a Temple speaker) telling how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt (Ps 81:7–9), gave them the fundamental commandment of fidelity (Ps 81:9–11), which would bring punishment if they refused to obey (Ps 81:12–13). But if Israel repents, God will be with them once again, bestowing protection and fertility (Ps 81:14–16).
* [81:1] Upon the gittith: probably the title of the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung or a musical instrument.
* [81:4] New moon…full moon: the pilgrimage feast of harvest began with a great assembly (Lv 23:24; Nm 29:1), used the new moon as a sign (Nm 29:6), and included trumpets (Lv 23:24).
* [81:7] I heard a tongue I did not know: a Temple official speaks the word of God (Ps 81:5b–16), which is authoritative and unlike merely human words (cf. Nm 24:4, 16).
* [81:7] I removed his shoulder from the burden: A reference to the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The basket: for carrying clay to make bricks, cf. Ex 1:14.
* [81:8] Meribah: place of rebellion in the wilderness; cf. Ex 17:7; Nm 20:13.
* [81:10] There shall be no foreign god among you: as in Ps 50 and 95, Israel is challenged to obey the first commandment of fidelity to God after the proclamation of the exodus.
aa. [81:2] Ps 43:4; 68:26; 149:3; 150:3–4; Jdt 16:1.
bb. [81:4] Lv 23:24; Nm 29:1.
cc. [81:5] Ex 23:14ff.
dd. [81:7] Ex 1:14; 6:6.
ee. [81:8] Ps 95:8; Ex 2:23ff; 17:7; 19:16; Nm 20:13; 27:14.
ff. [81:9] Ex 1:14; 6:6.
gg. [81:10–11] Ex 20:2–6; Dt 5:6–10.
hh. [81:13] Jer 3:17; 7:24.
ii. [81:14] Is 48:18.
jj. [81:15] Lv 26:7–8.
kk. [81:17] Ps 147:14; Dt 32:13–14.
A psalm of Asaph.
1 God takes a stand in the divine council, gives judgment in the midst of the gods. [ a ]
2 "How long will you judge unjustly and favor the cause of the wicked? [ b ] Selah
3 "Defend the lowly and fatherless; render justice to the afflicted and needy.
4 Rescue the lowly and poor; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” [ c ]
5 *The gods neither know nor understand, wandering about in darkness, and all the world’s foundations shake.
6 I declare: "Gods though you be,* [ d ] offspring of the Most High all of you,
7 Yet like any mortal you shall die; like any prince you shall fall.”
8 Arise, O God, judge the earth,* for yours are all the nations.
* [Psalm 82] As in Ps 58, the pagan gods are seen as subordinate divine beings to whom Israel’s God had delegated oversight of the foreign countries in the beginning (Dt 32:8–9). Now God arises in the heavenly assembly (Ps 82:1) to rebuke the unjust "gods” (Ps 82:2–4), who are stripped of divine status and reduced in rank to mortals (Ps 82:5–7). They are accused of misruling the earth by not upholding the poor. A short prayer for universal justice concludes the Psalm (Ps 82:8).
* [82:5] The gods are blind and unable to declare what is right. Their misrule shakes earth’s foundations (cf. Ps 11:3; 75:4), which God made firm in creation (Ps 96:10).
* [82:6] I declare: "Gods though you be”: in Jn 10:34 Jesus uses the verse to prove that those to whom the word of God is addressed can fittingly be called "gods.”
* [82:8] Judge the earth: according to Dt 32:8–9, Israel’s God had originally assigned jurisdiction over the foreign nations to the subordinate deities, keeping Israel as a personal possession. Now God will directly take over the rulership of the whole world.
aa. [82:1] Is 3:13–14.
bb. [82:2] Ps 58:2.
cc. [82:4] Dt 1:17.
dd. [82:6] 2 Pt 1:4.