Psalm 78 Commentary

Psalm 78 Commentary

The psalmist calls it teaching. He calls it a parable. Let’s look at it again. There is nothing hidden about his message. The things he utters are commonplace history. Yet the introduction to this psalm speaks mountains.

Let’s check it out.

Firstly the message is about the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD; His power; and the statutes He decreed for Jacob. These we shouldn’t forget. Instead, we should teach them to our children. Are these the hidden things the psalmist is alarming us about? Probably yes.

Not forgetting the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD; His power; and His statutes constitute what the psalmist calls teaching. Probably the message becomes a parable because of the illogical and impossible behavior of God’s children. They sinned because of the scarcity of provisions. But they also sinned when the LORD provided abundantly.

They sinned in the midst of lack, but they also sinned in midst of abundance.  Their sin had probably nothing to do with the provisions. Our spirituality has nothing to do with what we have or don’t have.

Then the LORD provided miraculously. It still didn’t help them. Idolatry can still thrive in the midst of miracles.

Then the LORD fulfilled His long-term project to settle Israel in the land of promise. Rest came. But they still sinned. Where is the problem? Again the saint may want to understand that idolatry has nothing to do with blessings or lack of blessings. The quality of godliness has nothing to do with physical prosperity.

So what is the solution? The scripture rides on the history-long promise of the seed for the purposes of providing guidance to error-prone humanity. David comes into the picture. But David is simply a placeholder. The real Shepherd came several centuries after David. Probably that is where the parable comes in.

What is the scripture talking about? Who breaks this cycle of sin? The history that we have is one long record of unfaithfulness. The sheep constantly straying. So David comes into the picture. More appropriately, the Son of David commonly known as the Messiah comes into the picture.

Let’s check it again. Israel wasn’t exactly unresponsive. They tried their best but it was all flattery and lip service. It all pointed to humanity’s failure to help itself. As an adult would easily tell, godliness isn’t achievable on the man’s initiative and whim. So the thought of the Messiah comes to mind.

So the cycle of sin can break. So a man who doesn’t need any motivation to sin can find his way back to God under the leadership of the Chief Shepherd. It is a puzzle that this psalm presents. It is the hidden message that everyone knows. It leads us to one point: the Christ. Then the parable is unlocked.

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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