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Legacy of Worship: The Family in the Kingdom of God

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Read Psalm 78:1-8

A Call to a Legacy of Worship

Story of Joachimsthal, Germany, and the legacy of faith they passed to their children

The Purpose of Psalm 78

Psalms 73–83 form a Levitical collection, the Asaph psalms….” (McCann)
This collection starts where Book 3 of the Psalms begins with Psalm 73
In these first 8 verses, Asaph is establishing the purpose of the Psalm
The superscript of the Psalm reads “A Maskil of Asaph”
What is a Maskil?
The term “maskil comes from the Hebrew root sakal, which means “to have insight, to teach.” So we can understand a maskil as a teaching song.
The "teaching" of Psalm 78, the teaching to which the faithful should "give ear" (Psalm 78:1), is a teaching of hope in the goodness of God and a warning of the consequences of continual disobedience.
A Didactic Psalm
This is known as a “didactic psalm” because it is focused on teaching. Some scholars have considered it almost like a catechism of sorts.
This makes me wonder about teaching it to our children. Do you think a child could memorize this? I wonder....especially as a chant....?
Often in Baptist churches I feel like people recoil from the word “catechism” because they immediately associate it with the Roman Catholic Church
This is, actually, very wrong. Calvin and Luther believed deeply in using catechism to teach believers - of all ages!
One puritan pastor in England, named Richard Baxter, was one of the most influential leaders of the Nonconformists. He wrote a very influential book called “The Reformed Pastor,” and in it he talks about systematically working through his congregation, visiting every family and reviewing the catechism with them, helping teach and instruct them in it.
A hundred years after the beginning of the Reformation we can see a Protestant pastor using catechism to teach and shepherd his people.
Maybe we have dismissed it more out of fear than conviction. Teaching and training new believers (children and adults) takes time and effort.
This psalm is one which was designed and used to teach Israel and her children to stay faithful to God.
And then there’s Asaph. Who is this guy?
1 Chronicles points towards his role in Israel:
1 Chronicles 25:1
1 Chronicles 25:1 NASB95
Moreover, David and the commanders of the army set apart for the service some of the sons of Asaph and of Heman and of Jeduthun, who were to prophesy with lyres, harps and cymbals; and the number of those who performed their service was:
also note 1 Chron 25:6
1 Chronicles 25:6 NASB95
All these were under the direction of their father to sing in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, harps and lyres, for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman were under the direction of the king.
Asaph was a talented and inspired musician, and he was entrusted with leading all of Israel in worship. (I kinda like this guy!)

Psalm 78

As we start, be mindful of these terms, at least in the introduction:
Three Important Terms:
Father
Children
Generation
[blank slide]
[Outline borrowed from Preacher’s Commentary with my meta-categories]
Two main categories:
Command to pass on the Faith
The History of Faith
Psalm 78 Overall Outine:
Command to Pass on the Faith
Call to Receive Instruction (Ps 78:1-4)
Divine Basis and Purpose for Instruction (Ps 78:5-8)
The History of Faith
A Warning from Ephraim’s Children (Ps. 78:9-11)
God’s Redemption and Israel’s Rebellion Israel’s Rebellion (Ps. 78:12-20)
God’s Provision and Judgment (Ps 78:21-33)
Israel’s Repentance and God’s Compassion (Ps 78:34-39)
Israel’s Rebellion and God’s Judgment and Mercy (Ps 78:40-55)
Israel’s Rebellion and God’s Wrath (Ps 78:56-64)
God’s Judgment Against His Enemies (Ps 78:65-66)
God’s Sovereignty in Election (Ps 78:67-72)

Psalm 78:1-4

A Call to Receive Instruction

This psalm provides a hermeneutical principle for biblical interpretation. There is a moral order to history as God reveals Himself in judgment and redemption. This is what we must learn and pass on to our children.

Let us read the Psalm...
Psalm 78:1–4 HCSB
My people, hear my instruction; listen to what I say. I will declare wise sayings; I will speak mysteries from the past — things we have heard and known and that our fathers have passed down to us. We must not hide them from their children, but must tell a future generation the praises of the Lord, His might, and the wonderful works He has performed.
Check this out, look at Psalm 78:2
Psalm 78:2 HCSB
I will declare wise sayings; I will speak mysteries from the past —
Then consider Matthew’s allusion to it, basically connecting Jesus’ teaching style with what Asaph is commanding here.
Matthew 13:35 HCSB
so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: I will open My mouth in parables; I will declare things kept secret from the foundation of the world.
Psalm 78:2 HCSB
I will declare wise sayings; I will speak mysteries from the past —

We will not conceal them from our posterity, implying, that what we have been taught by our ancestors we should endeavour to transmit to their children. By this means, all pretence of ignorance is removed; for it was the will of God that these things should be published from age to age without interruption; so that being transmitted from father to child in each family, they might reach even the last family of man.

Around the fire-side fathers should repeat not only the Bible records, but the deeds of the martyrs and reformers, and moreover the dealings of the Lord with themselves both in providence and grace. Children should be taught cheerfully by word of mouth by their own mothers and fathers, as well as by the printed pages of what they too often regard as dull, dry task books.

What we can expect throughout the remainder of this psalm is the recitation of these works. Their purpose is clear: the work of God is for the worship of God. Confronted by His acts we are to fall down before Him in adoration and praise.

Psalm 78:5-8

Note how often we’re seeing the world children. It’s obviously a primary concern here.
Psalm 78:5–8 HCSB
He established a testimony in Jacob and set up a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children so that a future generation— children yet to be born—might know. They were to rise and tell their children so that they might put their confidence in God and not forget God’s works, but keep His commands. Then they would not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not loyal and whose spirit was not faithful to God.
“The term children can also be used in a figurative sense and does not always refer to those young in years. It certainly can refer to those young in years, but the reference here to those yet unborn would suggest that it could, at least in part, refer to young people in this context. If they are not young in years, they are certainly young in the faith of the community and in their understanding of the traditions of Israel.” - Phillip McMillion
This rings as a challenge to the body of believers in regards to passing on our faith, whether it is to physical children or to our spiritual children.
As this psalm unfolds, these positive and negative purposes will be fulfilled. We will be encouraged by God’s mighty works and warned by the rebellious fathers and those who followed them. Here then is teaching by historical memory and example
Donald Williams and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Psalms 73–150, vol. 14, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1989), 53.

Psalm 78:9-11

Psalm 78:9–11 HCSB
The Ephraimite archers turned back on the day of battle. They did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by His law. They forgot what He had done, the wonderful works He had shown them.
The children of Ephraim,” etc.] This seems to refer to that shameful defeat which the Philistines gave them in Eli’s time when they carried the ark into captivity, the same thing that mention is made of again, vv. 56–64.
The defeat of the children of Ephraim may be taken notice of the rather because they were eminently a warlike tribe. There chiefly lay the strength of Joseph’s posterity, of whom such things are said, Gen. 49:23–24.

Psalm 78:12-20

Psalm 78:12–20 HCSB
He worked wonders in the sight of their fathers in the land of Egypt, the region of Zoan. He split the sea and brought them across; the water stood firm like a wall. He led them with a cloud by day and with a fiery light throughout the night. He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink as abundant as the depths. He brought streams out of the stone and made water flow down like rivers. But they continued to sin against Him, rebelling in the desert against the Most High. They deliberately tested God, demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, “Is God able to provide food in the wilderness? Look! He struck the rock and water gushed out; torrents overflowed. But can He also provide bread or furnish meat for His people?”
Luke 11:29 HCSB
As the crowds were increasing, He began saying: “This generation is an evil generation. It demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.
How much food did God supply the Israelites with?
If you calculate a single person’s daily consumption of food per day as 4 lbs, you could say the Israelites (numbering over 2 million [600,000 males - Ex 38:26]) consumed as much as 8 million lbs of food a day (4,000 tons). Cutting that in half (for rationing), that is still over 2,000 tons of food per day! That would take roughly 200 dump trucks to haul!

Psalm 78:21-33

Psalm 78:21–33 HCSB
Therefore, the Lord heard and became furious; then fire broke out against Jacob, and anger flared up against Israel because they did not believe God or rely on His salvation. He gave a command to the clouds above and opened the doors of heaven. He rained manna for them to eat; He gave them grain from heaven. People ate the bread of angels. He sent them an abundant supply of food. He made the east wind blow in the skies and drove the south wind by His might. He rained meat on them like dust, and winged birds like the sand of the seas. He made them fall in His camp, all around His tent. They ate and were completely satisfied, for He gave them what they craved. Before they had satisfied their desire, while the food was still in their mouths, God’s anger flared up against them, and He killed some of their best men. He struck down Israel’s choice young men. Despite all this, they kept sinning and did not believe His wonderful works. He made their days end in futility, their years in sudden disaster.
on Psalm 78: 22 :
The New Testament, as well as the Old, bears witness to the fact that trust is an essential element in faith.
—> Louis Berkhof, The Assurance of Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939), 39.
Psalm 125:1 HCSB
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion. It cannot be shaken; it remains forever.

The reason for God’s wrath is Israel’s unbelief. To “believe” is not merely to assent to propositions about God; rather, it is to throw ourselves upon Him, abandoning all other support or hope. More over, in verse 22 Israel “did not trust [‘become secure’] in His salvation [‘deliverance’].”

Psalm 78:34-39

Psalm 78:34–39 HCSB
When He killed some of them, the rest began to seek Him; they repented and searched for God. They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God, their Redeemer. But they deceived Him with their mouths, they lied to Him with their tongues, their hearts were insincere toward Him, and they were unfaithful to His covenant. Yet He was compassionate; He atoned for their guilt and did not destroy them. He often turned His anger aside and did not unleash all His wrath. He remembered that they were only flesh, a wind that passes and does not return.

They could not be too zealous; they were in hot haste to prove their loyalty to their divine King. Who would not be pious when the plague is abroad? Even reprobates send for the minister when they lie dying. Thus sinners pay involuntary homage to the power of right and the supremacy of God, but their hypocritical homage is of small value in the sight of the great Judge.

Psalm 78:35 HCSB
They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God, their Redeemer.
Psalm 62:2 HCSB
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken.
Psalm 78:36–37 HCSB
But they deceived Him with their mouths, they lied to Him with their tongues, their hearts were insincere toward Him, and they were unfaithful to His covenant.

Piety produced by the damps of sorrow and the heats of terror is of mushroom growth; it is rapid in its upspringing—“they inquired early after God”—but it is a mere unsubstantial fungus of unabiding excitement.

Psalm 78:39 HCSB
He remembered that they were only flesh, a wind that passes and does not return.
Hosea 6:4 HCSB
What am I going to do with you, Ephraim? What am I going to do with you, Judah? Your loyalty is like the morning mist and like the early dew that vanishes.
Hosea 11:8 HCSB
How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I surrender you, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? I have had a change of heart; My compassion is stirred!
Revelation 6:16–17 HCSB
And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of Their wrath has come! And who is able to stand?”

Psalm 78:40-55

Psalm 78:40–55 HCSB
How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert. They constantly tested God and provoked the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power shown on the day He redeemed them from the foe, when He performed His miraculous signs in Egypt and His wonders in the region of Zoan. He turned their rivers into blood, and they could not drink from their streams. He sent among them swarms of flies, which fed on them, and frogs, which devastated them. He gave their crops to the caterpillar and the fruit of their labor to the locust. He killed their vines with hail and their sycamore fig trees with a flood. He handed over their livestock to hail and their cattle to lightning bolts. He sent His burning anger against them: fury, indignation, and calamity— a band of deadly messengers. He cleared a path for His anger. He did not spare them from death but delivered their lives to the plague. He struck all the firstborn in Egypt, the first progeny of the tents of Ham. He led His people out like sheep and guided them like a flock in the wilderness. He led them safely, and they were not afraid; but the sea covered their enemies. He brought them to His holy land, to the mountain His right hand acquired. He drove out nations before them. He apportioned their inheritance by lot and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.
The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 14: Psalms 73–150 Israel’s Rebellion and God’s Judgment and Mercy

We suppose that we know what we are saying when we say “God.” We assign to Him the highest place in our world; and in so doing we place Him fundamentally on one line with ourselves and with things…. We assume that we are able to arrange our relation to Him as we arrange our other relationships. We press ourselves into proximity with Him…. We dare to deck ourselves out as His companions, patrons, advisors, and commissioners. We confound time with eternity. This is the ungodliness of our relation to God… Secretly we are ourselves the masters in this relationship. We are not concerned with God, but with our own requirements, to which God must adjust Himself…. And so, when we set God upon the throne of the world, we mean by God ourselves

Psalm 78:56-64

Psalm 78:56–64 HCSB
But they rebelliously tested the Most High God, for they did not keep His decrees. They treacherously turned away like their fathers; they became warped like a faulty bow. They enraged Him with their high places and provoked His jealousy with their carved images. God heard and became furious; He completely rejected Israel. He abandoned the tabernacle at Shiloh, the tent where He resided among men. He gave up His strength to captivity and His splendor to the hand of a foe. He surrendered His people to the sword because He was enraged with His heritage. Fire consumed His chosen young men, and His young women had no wedding songs. His priests fell by the sword, but the widows could not lament.

Psalm 78:65-66

Psalm 78:65–66 HCSB
Then the Lord awoke as if from sleep, like a warrior from the effects of wine. He beat back His foes; He gave them lasting shame.

Psalm 78:67-72

Psalm 78:67–72 HCSB
He rejected the tent of Joseph and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim. He chose instead the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which He loved. He built His sanctuary like the heights, like the earth that He established forever. He chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; He brought him from tending ewes to be shepherd over His people Jacob— over Israel, His inheritance. He shepherded them with a pure heart and guided them with his skillful hands.

If Israel’s record is her shame, God’s persistent goodness emerges as her hope (and ours) for the unfinished story.

We are taught that whatever worth there was in the children of Abraham, flowed from the fountain of God’s mercy.

Isaiah 25:8 HCSB
He will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face and remove His people’s disgrace from the whole earth, for the Lord has spoken.
Revelation 21:3–4 HCSB
Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.

A Legacy of Worship that Lasts

Asaph has a biblical legacy of worship
Ezra 3:10 - Asaph’s descendants are still leading worship!
Ezra 3:10 HCSB
When the builders had laid the foundation of the Lord’s temple, the priests, dressed in their robes and holding trumpets, and the Levites descended from Asaph, holding cymbals, took their positions to praise the Lord, as King David of Israel had instructed.
Consider this time in Nehemiah 11:1-2
Nehemiah 11:1–2 HCSB
Now the leaders of the people stayed in Jerusalem, and the rest of the people cast lots for one out of ten to come and live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the other nine-tenths remained in their towns. The people praised all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.
you scroll down a few verses and look what you find! Neh 11:17
Nehemiah 11:17 HCSB
Mattaniah son of Mica, son of Zabdi, son of Asaph, the leader who began the thanksgiving in prayer; Bakbukiah, second among his relatives; and Abda son of Shammua, son of Galal, son of Jeduthun.
Conclusion
"Just as ancient Israel was encouraged to remember what the Lord had done, so too the modern community of faith must remember the core facts of God's work. If believers today ever abandon this link to the heritage of the past, there is the grave danger that the faith of the future will be quite different from the faith called for in Scriptures. Psalm 78 should encourage believers to continue to remember and to teach the importance of all that God has done." (McMillion, 228)

A Legacy of Worship

The Sinner’s Prayer:
Confess that you are a sinner and that you know you are separate from God and you cannot fix that yourself
Acknowledge Christ as Lord—Acknowledge that it is only by Christ’s work on the Cross that you can be saved: His righteous life, His death in your place, and His resurrection
Commit your life to God— Now that you have confessed your sin and acknowledged Christ as Lord, commit to live your life in worshipful response to God’s redeeming work in Christ.
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