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Synopsis Home Psalms Psalm 78
Psalms
Introduction
Book 1
Psalm 1
Psalm 2
Psalm 3
Psalm 4
Psalm 5
Psalm 6
Psalm 7
Psalm 8
Psalms 9 and 10
Psalm 11
Psalm 12
Psalm 13
Psalm 14
Psalm 15
Psalm 16
Psalm 17
Psalm 18
Psalm 19
Psalm 20
Psalm 21
Psalm 22
Psalms 23 and 24
Psalm 25
Psalm 26
Psalm 27
Psalm 28
Psalm 29
Psalm 30
Psalm 31
Psalm 32
Psalm 33
Psalm 34
Psalm 35
Psalm 36
Psalm 37
Psalm 38
Psalm 39
Psalm 40
Psalm 41
Book 2
Psalms 42, 43
Psalm 44
Psalm 45
Psalm 46
Psalm 47
Psalm 48
Psalm 49
Psalm 50
Psalm 51
Psalm 52
Psalm 53
Psalm 54
Psalm 55
Psalm 56
Psalm 57
Psalm 58
Psalm 59
Psalm 60
Psalm 61
Psalm 62
Psalm 63
Psalm 64
Psalm 65
Psalm 66
Psalm 67
Psalm 68
Psalm 69
Psalm 70
Psalm 71
Psalm 72
Book 3
Psalm 73
Psalm 74
Psalm 75
Psalm 76
Psalm 77
Psalm 78
Psalm 79
Psalm 80
Psalm 81
Psalm 82
Psalm 83
Psalm 84
Psalm 85
Psalm 86
Psalm 87
Psalm 88
Psalm 89
Book 4
Psalm 90
Psalm 91
Psalm 92
Psalm 93
Psalm 94
Psalm 95
Psalm 96
Psalm 97
Psalm 98
Psalm 99
Psalm 100
Psalm 101
Psalm 102
Psalm 103
Psalm 104
Psalm 105
Psalm 106
Book 5
Psalm 107
Psalm 108
Psalm 109
Psalm 110
Psalm 111
Psalm 112
Psalm 113
Psalm 114
Psalm 115
Psalm 116
Psalm 117
Psalm 118
Psalm 119
Psalm 120
Psalm 121
Psalm 122
Psalm 123
Psalm 124
Psalm 125
Psalm 126
Psalm 127
Psalm 128
Psalm 129
Psalm 130
Psalm 131
Psalm 132
Psalm 133
Psalm 134
Psalm 135
Psalm 136
Psalm 137
Psalm 138
Psalm 139
Psalms 140-143
Psalm 144
Psalm 145
Psalm 146
Psalm 147
Psalm 148
Psalm 149
Psalm 150

Israel's conduct; God's sovereign mercy and grace

In Psalm 78 the conduct of Israel is discussed by wisdom, historically as regards the whole people, but with very important principles brought out. There was not only a redemption of old, to which faith recurred, but a testimony given, and a law to guide Israel's ways, that they should make them known to their children. But the fathers had been a stubborn and rebellious generation. Now, the law and the testimony were given that the children might not be like their fathers; but they were, and their history is here brought out. God, therefore, chastened them; there was direct open government in respect of their ways. For all this they sinned still. At the moment of chastisement they turned to Him. Nevertheless they did but flatter Him with their mouth, their heart was not right with Him, nor they stedfast in His covenant. But He showed compassion, also forgave, remembered they were but flesh. Yet after Egyptian signs they forgat Him; brought into the land, they turned to idolatry. When God heard this, He was wroth and greatly abhorred Israel. On the ground of this government, under law and testimony and compassionate mercy, Israel was wholly given up, the tabernacle forsaken, the ark delivered into captivity and the enemies' hand. The people also were delivered over to judgment. But Jehovah's love to His people in grace was not weakened, and the sorrow they were brought into called out that love. He awoke, as one out of sleep, and smote His enemies, and put them to a perpetual shame. But now He had interfered in grace in His own proper love to His people. It was not governmental blessing on condition of obedience, but the interference of grace, when disobedience had, on the principle of government, brought in complete judgment, in spite of compassion and mercy. Sovereign mercy now had its place. Old blessings had put Joseph as natural heir; he had the rich and double portion. God chose Judah. He chose Zion. This gave it its importance. It is the place of love in grace, when all had failed under law, even with the fullest compassionate patience. He built His sanctuary. That is not directly presented as the subject of electing goodness, but He chose David when in the humblest condition, who then fed His people.

In this most beautiful psalm we have the most important principles possible. Viewing Israel as established on the ground of government in Sinai, on law mixed with compassion, Israel had entirely failed, was abhorred, cast off. A total breach had been made; the ark of the covenant, the link between Israel and God, the place of propitiation, and His throne, given up to the enemy. But God, whose sovereign love to His people had come in in power to deliver, had chosen Judah, Zion, David, and set up a link in grace, and by deliverance after failure. Faith can go back to God's works in redemption, but not to man's conduct under law. Psalm 78 is the converse of Psalm 77. Yet in Israel all this is declared to produce that which grace will effect in the last day that value for the law in the heart which will make them teach it to their children (compare Gen. 18: 17-19; see Exodus 34). Mercy put Israel again under the condition of obedience. Here power delivers, after they have failed even under this, and judgment is come, God acting according to His mind of love. Pure law they never were under in fact; the tables never came into the camp (compare 2 Cor. 3). Moses' face shone only when he had seen God, when he went up the second time accepted in grace; but for Israel, this was putting them back under law. It is grace, and law brought in after it, which is death and condemnation. This is impossible with substitution; but this place, of course, Moses could not take. "Peradventure I shall make an atonement for your souls." "Blot me out, I pray you." No, was the answer; the soul that sins, it will I blot out. This was law and (as we see here, and as is definitely stated in 2 Corinthians 3) ruin.

Synopsis by John Darby