5 Psalms a Day: Psalm 76-80

Photo credit: Paul Arps

Psalm 76

Israel’s God—Judge of All the Earth

To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.
In Judah God is known,
   his name is great in Israel.
His abode has been established in Salem,
   his dwelling-place in Zion.
There he broke the flashing arrows,
   the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.
          Selah


Glorious are you, more majestic
   than the everlasting mountains.
The stout-hearted were stripped of their spoil;
   they sank into sleep;
none of the troops
   was able to lift a hand.
At your rebuke, O God of Jacob,
   both rider and horse lay stunned.


But you indeed are awesome!
   Who can stand before you
   when once your anger is roused?
From the heavens you uttered judgement;
   the earth feared and was still
when God rose up to establish judgement,
   to save all the oppressed of the earth.
          Selah


Human wrath serves only to praise you,
   when you bind the last bit of your wrath around you.
Make vows to the Lord your God, and perform them;
   let all who are around him bring gifts
   to the one who is awesome,
who cuts off the spirit of princes,
   who inspires fear in the kings of the earth.

Psalm 77

God’s Mighty Deeds Recalled

To the leader: according to Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A Psalm.
I cry aloud to God,
   aloud to God, that he may hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
   in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
   my soul refuses to be comforted.
I think of God, and I moan;
   I meditate, and my spirit faints.
          Selah


You keep my eyelids from closing;
   I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
   and remember the years of long ago.
I commune with my heart in the night;
   I meditate and search my spirit:
‘Will the Lord spurn for ever,
   and never again be favourable?
Has his steadfast love ceased for ever?
   Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
   Has he in anger shut up his compassion?’
          Selah
And I say, ‘It is my grief
   that the right hand of the Most High has changed.’


I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord;
   I will remember your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all your work,
   and muse on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
   What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
   you have displayed your might among the peoples.
With your strong arm you redeemed your people,
   the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
          Selah


When the waters saw you, O God,
   when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
   the very deep trembled.
The clouds poured out water;
   the skies thundered;
   your arrows flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
   your lightnings lit up the world;
   the earth trembled and shook.
Your way was through the sea,
   your path, through the mighty waters;
   yet your footprints were unseen.
You led your people like a flock
   by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Psalm 78

God’s Goodness and Israel’s Ingratitude

A Maskil of Asaph.
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
   incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
   I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
   that our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their children;
   we will tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
   and the wonders that he has done.


He established a decree in Jacob,
   and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
   to teach to their children;
that the next generation might know them,
   the children yet unborn,
and rise up and tell them to their children,
   so that they should set their hope in God,
and not forget the works of God,
   but keep his commandments;
and that they should not be like their ancestors,
   a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
   whose spirit was not faithful to God.


The Ephraimites, armed with the bow,
   turned back on the day of battle.
They did not keep God’s covenant,
   but refused to walk according to his law.
They forgot what he had done,
   and the miracles that he had shown them.
In the sight of their ancestors he worked marvels
   in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.
He divided the sea and let them pass through it,
   and made the waters stand like a heap.
In the daytime he led them with a cloud,
   and all night long with a fiery light.
He split rocks open in the wilderness,
   and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
He made streams come out of the rock,
   and caused waters to flow down like rivers.


Yet they sinned still more against him,
   rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
They tested God in their heart
   by demanding the food they craved.
They spoke against God, saying,
   ‘Can God spread a table in the wilderness?
Even though he struck the rock so that water gushed out
   and torrents overflowed,
can he also give bread,
   or provide meat for his people?’


Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of rage;
   a fire was kindled against Jacob,
   his anger mounted against Israel,
because they had no faith in God,
   and did not trust his saving power.
Yet he commanded the skies above,
   and opened the doors of heaven;
he rained down on them manna to eat,
   and gave them the grain of heaven.
Mortals ate of the bread of angels;
   he sent them food in abundance.
He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,
   and by his power he led out the south wind;
he rained flesh upon them like dust,
   winged birds like the sand of the seas;
he let them fall within their camp,
   all around their dwellings.
And they ate and were well filled,
   for he gave them what they craved.
But before they had satisfied their craving,
   while the food was still in their mouths,
the anger of God rose against them
   and he killed the strongest of them,
   and laid low the flower of Israel.


In spite of all this they still sinned;
   they did not believe in his wonders.
So he made their days vanish like a breath,
   and their years in terror.
When he killed them, they sought for him;
   they repented and sought God earnestly.
They remembered that God was their rock,
   the Most High God their redeemer.
But they flattered him with their mouths;
   they lied to him with their tongues.
Their heart was not steadfast towards him;
   they were not true to his covenant.
Yet he, being compassionate,
   forgave their iniquity,
   and did not destroy them;
often he restrained his anger,
   and did not stir up all his wrath.
He remembered that they were but flesh,
   a wind that passes and does not come again.
How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
   and grieved him in the desert!
They tested God again and again,
   and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
They did not keep in mind his power,
   or the day when he redeemed them from the foe;
when he displayed his signs in Egypt,
   and his miracles in the fields of Zoan.
He turned their rivers to blood,
   so that they could not drink of their streams.
He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them,
   and frogs, which destroyed them.
He gave their crops to the caterpillar,
   and the fruit of their labour to the locust.
He destroyed their vines with hail,
   and their sycomores with frost.
He gave over their cattle to the hail,
   and their flocks to thunderbolts.
He let loose on them his fierce anger,
   wrath, indignation, and distress,
   a company of destroying angels.
He made a path for his anger;
   he did not spare them from death,
   but gave their lives over to the plague.
He struck all the firstborn in Egypt,
   the first issue of their strength in the tents of Ham.
Then he led out his people like sheep,
   and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid;
   but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
And he brought them to his holy hill,
   to the mountain that his right hand had won.
He drove out nations before them;
   he apportioned them for a possession
   and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.


Yet they tested the Most High God,
   and rebelled against him.
   They did not observe his decrees,
but turned away and were faithless like their ancestors;
   they twisted like a treacherous bow.
For they provoked him to anger with their high places;
   they moved him to jealousy with their idols.
When God heard, he was full of wrath,
   and he utterly rejected Israel.
He abandoned his dwelling at Shiloh,
   the tent where he dwelt among mortals,
and delivered his power to captivity,
   his glory to the hand of the foe.
He gave his people to the sword,
   and vented his wrath on his heritage.
Fire devoured their young men,
   and their girls had no marriage song.
Their priests fell by the sword,
   and their widows made no lamentation.
Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
   like a warrior shouting because of wine.
He put his adversaries to rout;
   he put them to everlasting disgrace.


He rejected the tent of Joseph,
   he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
but he chose the tribe of Judah,
   Mount Zion, which he loves.
He built his sanctuary like the high heavens,
   like the earth, which he has founded for ever.
He chose his servant David,
   and took him from the sheepfolds;
from tending the nursing ewes he brought him
   to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
   of Israel, his inheritance.
With upright heart he tended them,
   and guided them with skilful hand.

Psalm 79

Plea for Mercy for Jerusalem

A Psalm of Asaph.
O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
   they have defiled your holy temple;
   they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the bodies of your servants
   to the birds of the air for food,
   the flesh of your faithful to the wild animals of the earth.
They have poured out their blood like water
   all around Jerusalem,
   and there was no one to bury them.
We have become a taunt to our neighbours,
   mocked and derided by those around us.


How long, O Lord? Will you be angry for ever?
   Will your jealous wrath burn like fire?
Pour out your anger on the nations
   that do not know you,
and on the kingdoms
   that do not call on your name.
For they have devoured Jacob
   and laid waste his habitation.


Do not remember against us the iniquities of our ancestors;
   let your compassion come speedily to meet us,
   for we are brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation,
   for the glory of your name;
deliver us, and forgive our sins,
   for your name’s sake.
Why should the nations say,
   ‘Where is their God?’
Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants
   be known among the nations before our eyes.


Let the groans of the prisoners come before you;
   according to your great power preserve those doomed to die.
Return sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbours
   the taunts with which they taunted you, O Lord!
Then we your people, the flock of your pasture,
   will give thanks to you for ever;
   from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

Psalm 80

Prayer for Israel’s Restoration

To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm.
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
   you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
   before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might,
   and come to save us!


Restore us, O God;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved.


O Lord God of hosts,
   how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
   and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us the scorn of our neighbours;
   our enemies laugh among themselves.


Restore us, O God of hosts;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved.


You brought a vine out of Egypt;
   you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it;
   it took deep root and filled the land.
The mountains were covered with its shade,
   the mighty cedars with its branches;
it sent out its branches to the sea,
   and its shoots to the River.
Why then have you broken down its walls,
   so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
The boar from the forest ravages it,
   and all that move in the field feed on it.


Turn again, O God of hosts;
   look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
   the stock that your right hand planted.
They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down;
   may they perish at the rebuke of your countenance.
But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
   the one whom you made strong for yourself.
Then we will never turn back from you;
   give us life, and we will call on your name.


Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved.


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