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A History of the Wonders of God

Behold, the wonders of God and what He wants us to learn from them!

Psalm 78

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • February 12, AD 2012

Scripture Reader and Reading: Dysen – First Corinthians 10.11


  1. What did First Corinthians 10.11 just say? 
    1. The events of the wilderness wanderings of Israel
    2. were written for ouradmonition, because
      1. the children of Israel are our examples,
      2. in this case, that we not imitate them.
  2. However, the Lord wants us to know Israel’s history, and 
    1. Psalm 78 provides an excellent summary for us,
    2. simultaneously providing a history of God’s dealings with Israel.


  1. Psalm 78.0 • Something to Contemplate

    0 A Contemplation of Asaph.
    (Psa 78.0)

    1. If you know that a man is close to God,
    2. you want to hear what he has to say.
      1. If you know that the Holy Spirit moved a man to write,
      2. you want to read what he wrote.
    3. Such is the case with Asaph.
      1. He was close to God, and
      2. Asaph knew how to express himself.
        1. The Holy Spirit used him
        2. to reveal something to the church that God wants us to know.
  2. Psalm 78.1–4 • Asaph’s Invitation to History Lessons

    1 Give ear, O my people, to my law;
    Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
    2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
    I will utter dark sayings of old,
    3 Which we have heard and known,
    And our fathers have told us.
    4 We will not hide them from their children,
    Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD,
    And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.
    (Psa 78.1–4)

    1. Asaph’s generation learned of the strength and wonderful works of God, and
    2. the psalmist invited us to hear him retell that history.
  3. Psalm 78.5–8 • God-Appointed History Lessons

    5 For He established a testimony in Jacob,
    And appointed a law in Israel,
    Which He commanded our fathers,
    That they should make them known to their children;
    6 That the generation to come might know them,
    The children who would be born,
    That they may arise and declare them to their children,
    7 That they may set their hope in God,
    And not forget the works of God,
    But keep His commandments;
    8 And may not be like their fathers,
    A stubborn and rebellious generation,
    A generation that did not set its heart aright,
    And whose spirit was not faithful to God.
    (Psa 78.5–8)

    1. It was not simply Asaph’s desire to tell something interesting, but
    2. God Himself decreed that each generation teach the next one
      1. of the history of the wonders of God, and
      2. since the writing of this psalm we can add more stories.
    3. Verses 6–8 reveal why God made this decree:
      1. That the next generation might know the wonderful works of God,
      2. That the next generation might teach their children, and
      3. That the next generation may set their hope in God.
  4. Psalm 78.9–11 • 1st Lesson: The Defeat of Ephraim

    9 The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows,
    Turned back in the day of battle.
    10 They did not keep the covenant of God;
    They refused to walk in His law,
    11 And forgot His works
    And His wonders that He had shown them.
    (Psa 78.9–11)

    1. Lesson one illustrates what Asaph said in verse 8.
    2. Ephraim forgot God’s wonderful works, and so
      1. they did not keep the covenant of God, and
      2. they suffered in battle, just as Leviticus 26 promised.
  5. Psalm 78.12–16 • 2nd Lesson: The Wonders of God

    12 Marvelous things He did in the sight of their fathers,
    In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
    13 He divided the sea and caused them to pass through;
    And He made the waters stand up like a heap.
    14 In the daytime also He led them with the cloud,
    And all the night with a light of fire.
    15 He split the rocks in the wilderness,
    And gave them drink in abundance like the depths.
    16 He also brought streams out of the rock,
    And caused waters to run down like rivers.
    (Psa 78.12–16)

    1. Lesson two shows the wonders of God prompted by His compassion.
    2. Verse 12 declares
      1. that He did wonders in Egypt,
      2. referring to the ten plagues.
    3. Verses 13–16 show what He did for Israel once out of Egypt:
      1. Splitting the Red Sea for Israel,
      2. Leading them with mighty displays just above the camp, and
      3. Providing water from rocks!
  6. Psalm 78.17–20 • 3rd Lesson: The Increasing Sin of Israel

    17 But they sinned even more against Him
    By rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness.
    18 And they tested God in their heart
    By asking for the food of their fancy.
    19 Yes, they spoke against God:
    They said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
    20 Behold, He struck the rock,
    So that the waters gushed out,
    And the streams overflowed.
    Can He give bread also?
    Can He provide meat for His people?”
    (Psa 78.17–20)

    1. Lesson three shows Israel challenging the wonders of the compassionate God.
    2. Rather praising Him, they rebelled against Him:
      1. Testing Him by seeing whether He would give what they wanted,
      2. Challenging Him whether He could give them bread and meat
        1. as He did water, as though
        2. what He had done thus far was not enough and was not impressive!
  7. Psalm 78.21, 22 • 4th Lesson: The Fury of God (Part 1)

    21 Therefore the LORD heard this and was furious;
    So a fire was kindled against Jacob,
    And anger also came up against Israel,
    22 Because they did not believe in God,
    And did not trust in His salvation.
    (Psa 78.21, 22)

    1. Lesson four shows that such a challenge angered God, because
      1. they did not believe He could take care of them, and
      2. they did not believe that they could trust Him!
  8. Psalm 78.23–31 • 5th Lesson: The Providence of God

    23 Yet He had commanded the clouds above,
    And opened the doors of heaven,
    24 Had rained down manna on them to eat,
    And given them of the bread of heaven.
    25 Men ate angels’ food;
    He sent them food to the full.
    26 He caused an east wind to blow in the heavens;
    And by His power He brought in the south wind.
    27 He also rained meat on them like the dust,
    Feathered fowl like the sand of the seas;
    28 And He let them fall in the midst of their camp,
    All around their dwellings.
    29 So they ate and were well filled,
    For He gave them their own desire.
    30 They were not deprived of their craving;
    But while their food was still in their mouths,
    31 The wrath of God came against them,
    And slew the stoutest of them,
    And struck down the choice men of Israel.
    (Psa 78.23–31)

    1. Lesson five shows that He was angry, yet
      1. He provided what they wanted.
    2. Not only could He bring water out of a rock, but
      1. He literally rain down bread upon them from the sky, and
      2. He literally dumped on them tons of meat.
    3. The only thing they could think about was eating, and
      1. so without confessing their sin of challenging God,
      2. without humbling themselves before Him,
      3. without giving thanks,
        1. they ate, but
        2. while the meat was still in their teeth,
          1. He poured out His wrath upon them.
  9. Psalm 78.32, 33 • 6th Lesson: The Persistence of Sin

    32 In spite of this they still sinned,
    And did not believe in His wondrous works.
    33 Therefore their days He consumed in futility,
    And their years in fear.
    (Psa 78.32, 33)

    1. Lesson six shows that they did not learn.
    2. They continued to disbelieve His wondrous works, and
      1. they spent many years in futility in that wilderness,
      2. with fear upon them.
  10. Psalm 78.34–37 • 7th Lesson: The Halfhearted Devotion of Israel

    34 When He slew them, then they sought Him;
    And they returned and sought earnestly for God.
    35 Then they remembered that God was their rock,
    And the Most High God their Redeemer.
    36 Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouth,
    And they lied to Him with their tongue;
    37 For their heart was not steadfast with Him,
    Nor were they faithful in His covenant.
    (Psa 78.34–37)

    1. Lesson seven shows that when He started to slay them,
    2. they finally returned to Him and sought Him.
      1. They remembered that He was their rock.
      2. They remembered that He was their redeemer.
    3. Yet, in time their new found devotion revealed itself as only halfhearted.
  11. Psalm 78.38, 39 • 8th Lesson: The Compassion of God

    38 But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity,
    And did not destroy them.
    Yes, many a time He turned His anger away,
    And did not stir up all His wrath;
    39 For He remembered that they were but flesh,
    A breath that passes away and does not come again.
    (Psa 78.38, 39)

    1. Lesson eight is amazing, because
      1. in spite of their lack of faith, and
      2. in spite of their constant challenging of Him,
        1. He forgave them
        2. because He is a God of compassion.
    2. He did not wipe them out, remembering
      1. that they were but flesh, and
      2. a breath that is soon gone.
        1. He knows that the spirit is willing, but
        2. that the flesh is weak.
  12. Psalm 78.40, 41 • 9th Lesson: The Limiting of God

    40 How often they provoked Him in the wilderness,
    And grieved Him in the desert!
    41 Yes, again and again they tempted God,
    And limited the Holy One of Israel.
    (Psa 78.40, 41)

    1. Lesson nine makes one of the saddest declarations in all of Scripture.
    2. Their constant provoking and grieving of God
      1. by tempting Him repeatedly,
      2. meant that they limited what He was doing in their lives.
        1. They should have only spent two years in the wilderness, but
        2. they had to spend an additional thirty-eight years out there.
  13. Psalm 78.42–51 • 10th Lesson: The Failure to Remember the Wonders of God

    42 They did not remember His power:
    The day when He redeemed them from the enemy,
    43 When He worked His signs in Egypt,
    And His wonders in the field of Zoan;
    44 Turned their rivers into blood,
    And their streams, that they could not drink.
    45 He sent swarms of flies among them, which devoured them,
    And frogs, which destroyed them.
    46 He also gave their crops to the caterpillar,
    And their labor to the locust.
    47 He destroyed their vines with hail,
    And their sycamore trees with frost.
    48 He also gave up their cattle to the hail,
    And their flocks to fiery lightning.
    49 He cast on them the fierceness of His anger,
    Wrath, indignation, and trouble,
    By sending angels of destruction among them.
    50 He made a path for His anger;
    He did not spare their soul from death,
    But gave their life over to the plague,
    51 And destroyed all the firstborn in Egypt,
    The first of their strength in the tents of Ham.
    (Psa 78.42–51)

    1. Lesson ten reminds us of what Israel witnessed in the land of Egypt.
    2. Asaph listed enough of the ten plagues that we get the point.
    3. God displayed His wonders, both by
      1. taking care of Israel miraculously, and
      2. punishing Egypt miraculously.
    4. Yet, for the most part that did not impress Israel.
  14. Psalm 78.52–55 • 11th Lesson: The Shepherding of God

    52 But He made His own people go forth like sheep,
    And guided them in the wilderness like a flock;
    53 And He led them on safely, so that they did not fear;
    But the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
    54 And He brought them to His holy border,
    This mountain which His right hand had acquired.
    55 He also drove out the nations before them,
    Allotted them an inheritance by survey,
    And made the tribes of Israel dwell in their tents.
    (Psa 78.52–55)

    1. Lesson eleven shows the shepherding of God,
      1. guiding Israel,
      2. drowning the Egyptians in the sea, and
      3. driving out the Canaanites.
    2. He gave all the Israelites land.
  15. Psalm 78.56–58 • 12th Lesson: The Provoking of God

    56 Yet they tested and provoked the Most High God,
    And did not keep His testimonies,
    57 But turned back and acted unfaithfully like their fathers;
    They were turned aside like a deceitful bow.
    58 For they provoked Him to anger with their high places,
    And moved Him to jealousy with their carved images.
    (Psa 78.56–58)

    1. Lesson twelve reminds us that once they entered the Land of Canaan
    2. they did not remember God, but worshiped idols.
  16. Psalm 78.59–64 • 13th Lesson: The Fury of God (Part 2)

    59 When God heard this, He was furious,
    And greatly abhorred Israel,
    60 So that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh,
    The tent He had placed among men,
    61 And delivered His strength into captivity,
    And His glory into the enemy’s hand.
    62 He also gave His people over to the sword,
    And was furious with His inheritance.
    63 The fire consumed their young men,
    And their maidens were not given in marriage.
    64 Their priests fell by the sword,
    And their widows made no lamentation.
    (Psa 78.59–64)

    1. Lesson thirteen shows God releasing His fury on Israel a second time.
    2. Shiloh was the first location of the tabernacle in Canaan, but
      1. Israel did something evil there, and
      2. God wiped it out,
        1. so that we do not know its location anymore.
        2. He also sent them to captivity.
  17. Psalm 78.65, 66 • 14th Lesson: The Fury of God (Part 3)

    65 Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
    Like a mighty man who shouts because of wine.
    66 And He beat back His enemies;
    He put them to a perpetual reproach.
    (Psa 78.65, 66)

    1. Less fourteen shows the fury of God against His enemies.
    2. He beat up those who beat up His people.
  18. Psalm 78.67–72 • 15th Lesson: The Choice of God

    67 Moreover He rejected the tent of Joseph,
    And did not choose the tribe of Ephraim,
    68 But chose the tribe of Judah,
    Mount Zion which He loved.
    69 And He built His sanctuary like the heights,
    Like the earth which He has established forever.
    70 He also chose David His servant,
    And took him from the sheepfolds;
    71 From following the ewes that had young, He brought him,
    To shepherd Jacob His people,
    And Israel His inheritance.
    72 So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,
    And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.
    (Psa 78.67–72)

    1. Lesson fifteen ends the psalm on a good note.
    2. God rejected Joseph, specifically Ephraim (where Shiloh was located), because
      1. of what Asaph said back in verses 9–11,
      2. that they refused to walk in God’s law.
    3. His new choice became
      1. the tribe of Judah, and
      2. within Judah, Mount Zion, and
        1. among the people of Judah,
        2. the Lord chose David.
    4. David never turned to idols, and
      1. when he sinned,
      2. he repented in tears and confession.
    5. He led Israel to serve God faithfully.
      1. Finally, God had found a man after His own heart.
      2. That is what God wants from us.


  1. Let us not think evil of the Israelites in the wilderness, for 
    1. we may develop a self-righteous attitude,
    2. believing falsely that we would not have been like them.
  2. However, think of these two things. 
    1. Remember that Jesus quoted the scribes and Pharisees,

      30 “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets” (Matt 23.30).
    2. Who here has not repeated their sin?
  3. When you think of the wonders of God, 
    1. think not only of creation, but also
    2. the wonders of the patience, mercy, and forgiveness of God.
  4. Where are you in your relationship with Him? 
    1. Do repairs need to be made?
    2. Do you need our prayers?
  5. From Psalm 78, remember that God 
    1. Does wonderful things in our lives,
    2. Wants us to teach others the history of the Bible,
    3. Wants us to set our hope in Him,
    4. Wants us to keep His commandments,
    5. Provides for our needs,
    6. Wants us to search for Him, and
    7. Forgive us.