What We Need to Tell Future Generations

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What We Need to Tell Future Generations

(Psalm 78)

Andy Nagahara

A. Learning about God’s grace and human rebellion from the history of the Israelites

1. The Jewish people were committed to telling their children about the grace of God

A <maskil> of Asaph. O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old– what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. They would not be like their forefathers– a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him. (0-8)

2. Despite their commitment, people still lost their faith in God and forgot about his mercy

But they continued to sin against him, rebelling in the desert against the Most High. They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the desert? When he struck the rock, water gushed out, and streams flowed abundantly. But can he also give us food? Can he supply meat for his people?” When the LORD heard them, he was very angry; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel, for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. (17-22)

Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat. He let loose the east wind from the heavens and led forth the south wind by his power. He rained meat down on them like dust, flying birds like sand on the seashore. He made them come down inside their camp, all around their tents. They ate till they had more than enough, for he had given them what they craved. But before they turned from the food they craved, even while it was still in their mouths, God’s anger rose against them; he put to death the sturdiest among them, cutting down the young men of Israel. (23-31)

3. Regardless of how often people turned their backs on him, God continued to meet their needs

In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe. So he ended their days in futility and their years in terror. Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again. They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues; their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant. Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return. (32-39)

B. We need to tell future generations about the grace of Jesus because…

1. …our sinful nature will continue to cause suffering

2. …Jesus, our God, will never give up on us

3. …we don’t want anyone to experience the despair that comes from living without Jesus


This psalm teaches us about God’s mercy in the face of human rebellion as revealed in the history of the Israelites. Human nature may never change, but if we accept God’s grace and live a life of thanksgiving, we can have peace in our hearts no matter what happens in society.

For Discussion

1) Why do human beings so easily forget the grace of God?
2) Why did God slay them? (34)