The Psalms of David in Metre

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Psalm 78

This psalm is but a brief instructive history of the transactions between Israel and their God, for about four hundred and eighty years, from Moses to David. Here is, (1.) The introduction, containing a solemn call to an attentive consideration of God’s words and works, in order to a faithful transmitting of the knowledge thereof to posterity, that they might set their hope in God, and reform from their fathers’ wickedness, ver. 1-8. (2.) The history itself, in which are exhibited, 1. God’s favours to Israel before their settlement in Canaan, in plaguing the Egyptians; in dividing the Red Sea; in giving them water from the rock, and manna from heaven; in bringing them into Canaan, notwithstanding their unnumbered provocations, particularly their forgetfulness of his mighty works, their ingratitude for his favours, their murmuring against his trying dispensations, their eagerness to satiate their lusts with his benefits, their impenitent obduracy, or hypocritical repentance under his rebukes, ver. 9-55. 2. Their ingratitude, treachery, and idolatry, after their entrance into Canaan; with God’s righteous resentment thereof, in removing his tabernacle from Shiloh, and in delivering up his ark and people into the hand of the Philistines, ver. 56-64. 3. God’s merciful return to them, in obliging the Philistines, by the plague of emrods, to restore his ark; in at length providing an habitation for it at Jerusalem; and in raising up and qualifying David, a descendant of Judah, to govern them in a manner both honourable and happy, ver. 65-72. These things are more largely recorded in the books of Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1st and 2nd Samuel, and part of 1st Kings.

While I sing, let me, with grief and shame, remember my own and my fathers’ transgressions against the Lord. Let me adore the infinite patience, power, and mercy, holiness and equity of God. Let me bless his holy name, for the multitude of his undeserved favours towards me, and towards the church. And though he cause grief, let me hope that, in due time, he will have compassion.

Maschil of Asaph.

1 Attend, my people, to my law;
thereto give thou an ear;
The words that from my mouth proceed
attentively do hear.

2 My mouth shall speak a parable,
and sayings dark of old;
3 The same which we have heard and known,
and us our fathers told.

4 We also will them not conceal
from their posterity;
Them to the generation
to come declare will we:

The praises of the Lord our God,
and his almighty strength,
The wondrous works that he hath done,
we will show forth at length.

5 His testimony and his law
in Isr’el he did place,
And charged our fathers it to show
to their succeeding race;

6 That so the race which was to come
might well them learn and know;
And sons unborn, who should arise,
might to their sons them show:

7 That they might set their hope in God,
and suffer not to fall
His mighty works out of their mind,
but keep his precepts all:

8 And might not, like their fathers, be
a stiff rebellious race;
A race not right in heart; with God
whose sp’rit not steadfast was.

9 The sons of Ephraim, who nor bows
nor other arms did lack,
When as the day of battle was,
they faintly turned back.

10 They brake God’s cov’nant, and refused
in his commands to go;
11 His works and wonders they forgot,
which he to them did show.

12 Things marvelous he brought to pass;
their fathers them beheld
Within the land of Egypt done,
yea, ev’n in Zoan’s field.

13 By him divided was the sea,
he caused them through to pass;
And made the waters so to stand,
as like an heap it was.

14 With cloud by day, with light of fire
all night, he did them guide.
15 In desert rocks he clave, and drink,
as from great depths, supplied.

16 He from the rock brought streams, like floods
made waters to run down.
17 Yet sinning more, in desert they
provoked the Highest One.

18 For in their heart they tempted God,
and, speaking with mistrust,
They greedily did meat require
to satisfy their lust.

19 Against the Lord himself they spake,
and, murmuring, said thus,
A table in the wilderness
can God prepare for us?

20 Behold, he smote the rock, and thence
came streams and waters great;
But can he give his people bread?
and send them flesh to eat?

21 The Lord did hear, and waxed wroth;
so kindled was a flame
‘Gainst Jacob, and ‘gainst Israel
up indignation came.

22 For they believed not God, nor trust
in his salvation had;
23 Though clouds above he did command,
and heav’n’s doors open made,

24 And manna rained on them, and gave
them corn of heav’n to eat.
25 Man angels’ food did eat; to them
he to the full sent meat.

26 And in the heaven he did cause
an eastern wind to blow;
And by his power he let out
the southern wind to go.

27 Then flesh as thick as dust he made
to rain down them among;
And feathered fowls, like as the sand
which li’th the shore along.

28 At his command amidst their camp
these show’rs of flesh down fell,
All round about the tabernacles
and tents where they did dwell.

29 So they did eat abundantly,
and had of meat their fill;
For he did give to them what was
their own desire and will.

30 They from their lust had not estranged
their heart and their desire;
But while the meat was in their mouths,
which they did so require,

31 God’s wrath upon them came, and slew
the fattest of them all;
So that the choice of Israel,
o’erthrown by death, did fall.

32 Yet, notwithstanding of all this,
they sinned still the more;
And though he had great wonders wrought,
believed him not therefore:

33 Wherefore their days in vanity
he did consume and waste;
And by his wrath their wretched years
away in trouble past.

34 But when he slew them, then they did
to seek him show desire;
Yea, they returned, and after God
right early did enquire.

35 And that the Lord had been their Rock,
they did remember then;
Ev’n that the high almighty God
had their Redeemer been.

36 Yet with their mouth they flattered him,
and spake but feignedly;
And they unto the God of truth
with their false tongues did lie.

37 For though their words were good, their heart
with him was not sincere;
Unsteadfast and perfidious
they in his cov’nant were.

38 But, full of pity, he forgave
their sin, them did not slay;
Nor stirred up all his wrath, but oft
his anger turned away.

39 For that they were but fading flesh
to mind he did recall;
A wind that passeth soon away,
and not returns at all.

40 How often did they him provoke
within the wilderness!
And in the desert did him grieve
with their rebelliousness!

41 Yea, turning back, they tempted God,
and limits set upon
Him, who in midst of Isr’el is
the only Holy One.

42 They did not call to mind his pow’r,
nor yet the day when he
Delivered them out of the hand
of their fierce enemy;

43 Nor how great signs in Egypt land
he openly had wrought;
What miracles in Zoan’s field
his hand to pass had brought.

44 How lakes and rivers ev’ry where
he turned into blood;
So that nor man nor beast could drink
of standing lake or flood.

45 He brought among them swarms of flies,
which did them sore annoy;
And divers kinds of filthy frogs
he sent them to destroy.

46 He to the caterpillar gave
the fruits of all their soil;
Their labors he delivered up
unto the locusts’ spoil.

47 Their vines with hail, their sycamores
he with the frost did blast:
48 Their beasts to hail he gave; their flocks
hot thunderbolts did waste.

49 Fierce burning wrath he on them cast,
and indignation strong,
And troubles sore, by sending forth
ill angels them among.

50 He to his wrath made way; their soul
from death he did not save;
But over to the pestilence
the lives of them he gave.

51 In Egypt land the first-born all
he smote down ev’ry where;
Among the tents of Ham, ev’n these
chief of their strength that were.

52 But his own people, like to sheep,
thence to go forth he made;
And he, amidst the wilderness,
them, as a flock, did lead.

53 And he them safely on did lead,
so that they did not fear;
Whereas their en’mies by the sea
quite overwhelmed were.

54 To borders of his sanctuary
the Lord his people led,
Ev’n to the mount which his right hand
for them had purchased.

55 The nations of Canaan,
by his almighty hand,
Before their face he did expel
out of their native land;

Which for inheritance to them
by line he did divide,
And made the tribes of Israel
within their tents abide.

56 Yet God most high they did provoke,
and tempted ever still;
And to observe his testimonies
did not incline their will:

57 But, like their fathers, turned back,
and dealt unfaithfully:
Aside they turned, like a bow
that shoots deceitfully.

58 For they to anger did provoke
him with their places high;
And with their graven images
moved him to jealousy.

59 When God heard this, he waxed wroth,
and much loathed Isr’el then:
60 So Shiloh’s tent he left, the tent
which he had placed with men.

61 And he his strength delivered
into captivity;
He left his glory in the hand
of his proud enemy.

62 His people also he gave o’er
unto the sword’s fierce rage:
So sore his wrath inflamed was
against his heritage.

63 The fire consumed their choice young men;
their maids no marriage had;
64 And when their priests fell by the sword,
their wives no mourning made.

65 But then the Lord arose, as one
that doth from sleep awake;
And like a giant that, by wine
refreshed, a shout doth make:

66 Upon his en’mies’ hinder parts
he made his stroke to fall;
And so upon them he did put
a shame perpetual.

67 Moreover, he the tabernacle
of Joseph did refuse;
The mighty tribe of Ephraim
he would in no wise choose:

68 But he did choose Jehudah’s tribe
to be the rest above;
And of mount Zion he made choice,
which he so much did love.

69 And he his sanctuary built
like to a palace high,
Like to the earth which he did found
to perpetuity.

70 Of David, that his servant was,
he also choice did make,
And even from the folds of sheep
was pleasèd him to take:

71 From waiting on the ewes with young,
he brought him forth to feed
Israel, his inheritance,
his people, Jacob’s seed.

72 So after the integrity
he of his heart them fed;
And by the good skill of his hands
them wisely governèd.