Psalm 78

1    Hear my teaching, O my people;  

incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

2    I will open my mouth in a parable;  

I will pour forth mysteries from of old,

3    Such as we have heard and known,  

which our forebears have told us.

4    We will not hide from their children,

    but will recount to generations to come,  

the praises of the Lord and his power

    and the wonderful works he has done.

5    He laid a solemn charge on Jacob

    and made it a law in Israel,  

which he commanded them to teach their children,

6    That the generations to come might know,

    and the children yet unborn,  

that they in turn might tell it to their children;

   So that they might put their trust in God  

and not forget the deeds of God,

    but keep his commandments,

8    And not be like their forebears,

    a stubborn and rebellious generation,  

a generation whose heart was not steadfast,

    and whose spirit was not faithful to God.

9    The people of Ephraim, armed with the bow,  

turned back in the day of battle;

10  They did not keep the covenant of God  

and refused to walk in his law;

11  They forgot what he had done  

and the wonders he had shown them.

12  For he did marvellous things in the sight of their forebears,  

in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.

13  He divided the sea and let them pass through;  

he made the waters stand still in a heap.

14  He led them with a cloud by day  

and all the night through with a blaze of fire.

15  He split the hard rocks in the wilderness  

and gave them drink as from the great deep.

16  He brought streams out of the rock  

and made water gush out like rivers.

17  Yet for all this they sinned more against him  

and defied the Most High in the wilderness.

18  They tested God in their hearts  

and demanded food for their craving.

19  They spoke against God and said,  

‘Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?

20  ‘He struck the rock indeed, so that the waters gushed out

    and the streams overflowed,  

but can he give bread or provide meat for his people?’

21  When the Lord heard this, he was full of wrath;  

a fire was kindled against Jacob

    and his anger went out against Israel,

22  For they had no faith in God  

and put no trust in his saving help.

23  So he commanded the clouds above  

and opened the doors of heaven.

24  He rained down upon them manna to eat  

and gave them the grain of heaven.

25  So mortals ate the bread of angels;  

he sent them food in plenty.

26  He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens  

and led out the south wind by his might.

27  He rained flesh upon them as thick as dust  

and winged fowl like the sand of the sea.

28  He let it fall in the midst of their camp  

and round about their tents.

29  So they ate and were well filled,  

for he gave them what they desired.

30  But they did not stop their craving;  

their food was still in their mouths,

31  When the anger of God rose against them,  

and slew their strongest men

    and felled the flower of Israel.

32  But for all this, they sinned yet more  

and put no faith in his wonderful works.

33  So he brought their days to an end like a breath  

and their years in sudden terror.

34  Whenever he slew them, they would seek him;  

they would repent and earnestly search for God.

35  They remembered that God was their rock  

and the Most High God their redeemer.

36  Yet they did but flatter him with their mouth  

and dissembled with their tongue.

37  Their heart was not steadfast towards him,  

neither were they faithful to his covenant.

38  But he was so merciful that he forgave their misdeeds

    and did not destroy them;  

many a time he turned back his wrath

    and did not suffer his whole displeasure to be roused.

39  For he remembered that they were but flesh,  

a wind that passes by and does not return.

40  How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness  

and grieved him in the desert!

41  Again and again they tempted God  

and provoked the Holy One of Israel.

42  They did not remember his power  

in the day when he redeemed them from the enemy;

43  How he had wrought his signs in Egypt  

and his wonders in the field of Zoan.

44  He turned their rivers into blood,  

so that they could not drink of their streams.

45  He sent swarms of flies among them, which devoured them,  

and frogs which brought them ruin.

46  He gave their produce to the caterpillar,  

the fruit of their toil to the locust.

47  He destroyed their vines with hailstones  

and their sycamore trees with the frost.

48  He delivered their cattle to hailstones  

and their flocks to thunderbolts.

49  He set loose on them his blazing anger:  

fury, displeasure and trouble,

    a troop of destroying angels.

50  He made a way for his anger

    and spared not their souls from death,  

but gave their life over to the pestilence.

51  He smote the firstborn of Egypt,  

the first fruits of their strength in the tents of Ham.

52  But he led out his people like sheep  

and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.

53  He led them to safety and they were not afraid,  

but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.

54  He brought them to his holy place,  

the mountain which his right hand took in possession.

55  He drove out the nations before them

    and shared out to them their inheritance;  

he settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.

56  Yet still they tested God Most High

    and rebelled against him,  

and would not keep his commandments.

57  They turned back and fell away like their forebears,  

starting aside like an unstrung bow.

58  They grieved him with their hill altars  

and provoked him to displeasure with their idols.

59  God heard and was greatly angered,  

and utterly rejected Israel.

60  He forsook the tabernacle at Shiloh,  

the tent of his presence on earth.

61  He gave the ark of his strength into captivity,  

his splendour into the adversary’s hand.

62  He delivered his people to the sword  

and raged against his inheritance.

63  The fire consumed their young men;  

there was no one to lament their maidens.

64  Their priests fell by the sword,  

and their widows made no lamentation.

65  Then the Lord woke as out of sleep,  

like a warrior who had been overcome with wine.

66  He struck his enemies from behind  

and put them to perpetual shame.

67  He rejected the tent of Joseph  

and chose not the tribe of Ephraim,

68  But he chose the tribe of Judah  

and the hill of Zion, which he loved.

69  And there he built his sanctuary like the heights of heaven,  

like the earth which he founded for ever.

70  He chose David also, his servant,  

and took him away from the sheepfolds.

71  From following the ewes with their lambs he took him,  

that he might shepherd Jacob his people

    and Israel his inheritance.

72  So he shepherded them with a devoted heart  

and with skilful hands he guided them.


Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, material from which is included here,
is copyright © The Archbishops' Council 2000 and published by Church House Publishing.

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