The History Psalm


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.
~Psalm 78:56-57, NRSV


The one thing we learn from history is that we do not learn anything from history.

Wiersbe calls Psalm 78 the History Psalm because it overviews Israel’s history from the Exodus to the present. I am not a fan of Hegel but he was right: we don’t seem to learn from history. We distort it by trying to make it fit our agenda and we deny it but we do not learn from it. An honest Jew could look back over their history and determine two things: [1] God had always been faithful; He was indeed a covenant keeping God and [2] Israel had been faithless, rebellious and ungrateful. George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past or condemned to repeat it.” This is exactly what the Israelites did, they repeated their sin and rebellion. Practically every generation made the same mistakes. When the Psalmist refers to Ephraim, he is probably talking about the Ten Northern Tribes who rebelled to the extent they started their own religion which was just another form of idolatry. The entire North is referred to as Ephraim because they had the same inordinate pride as did the Tribe of Ephraim, a pride that kept then in constant trouble. The Tribe of Ephraim was one of the larger Tribes but they were as unreliable as a crooked bow. In battle, they could not be counted on: they gave both Joshua and Gideon problems. The Israelites were prone to wander; they struggled with obedience and they demanded their own way.

On top of this, they were ungrateful. Charles Spurgeon said, “Like Israel, we are prone to engrave our trials in marvel and write our blessings in the sand.” Rudyard Kipling’s poem RECESSIONAL was composed for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. It was a grand celebration of Great Britain wealth and power. At that time, England had colonies all over the world. Kipling was very concerned about England moral decline and the pride they were taking in their achievement without any mention of God’s grace or blessing. He wrote the poem below for the occasion but the Brit’s didn’t take kindly to his words.

God of our fathers, known of old, 
   Lord of our far-flung battle-line, 
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold 
   Dominion over palm and pine— 
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, 
Lest we forget—lest we forget! 
The tumult and the shouting dies; 
   The Captains and the Kings depart: 
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice, 
   An humble and a contrite heart. 
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, 
Lest we forget—lest we forget! 
Far-called, our navies melt away; 
   On dune and headland sinks the fire: 
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday 
   Is one with Nineveh and Tyre! 
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet, 
Lest we forget—lest we forget! 
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose 
   Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe, 
Such boastings as the Gentiles use, 
   Or lesser breeds without the Law— 
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, 
Lest we forget—lest we forget! 
For heathen heart that puts her trust 
   In reeking tube and iron shard, 
All valiant dust that builds on dust, 
   And guarding, calls not Thee to guard, 
For frantic boast and foolish word— 
Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord! 

This daring reminder that all earthly success comes from God alone, and that God must not be forgotten, was believed to be the reason Rudyard Kipling was passed over as the nations poet laureate. The laureate is an award for outstanding achievement in a specific field. I am not a big fan of poets but this story gave me a new appreciation for Rudy.

  • Wow, what a crowd last night. I cooked for two solid hours. We ate 72 hot dogs and 160 TNT burgers. I bet we had over 200 because some did not eat. We got everyone feed but Eddie says he is bringing a grill next year and I consented. Also, next year, if we can get 250 in attendance, David and I will go off the high dive fully clad. The LORD gave us perfect weather! What about that!
  • Good crowd for worship yesterday but I did not think to check the board. I was excited about the baptism. Breanna and family have been a wonderful addition. I love that smile. She is excited about Jesus and working with us at DBC. Welcome to the family Breanna.
  • I am booked for the next two Sunday but it will not effect the biscuits and donuts. I will probably leave after LCBS. We had another great discussion yesterday.
  • I found out yesterday that I will get to facilitate a small group and Wendy and Michael are my host. I am excited.

Witty Quotes

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame,
two is a law firm,   
and three or more is a congress.   
 John Adams
If you don’t read the newspaper   
you are uninformed,
if you do read the newspaper
you are misinformed.
 Mark Twain
I contend that for a nation to try
to tax itself into prosperity is like a   
man standing in a bucket and   
trying to lift himself up by the handle.
Winston Churchill
 A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
 George   Bernard Shaw
A liberal is someone who feels a   
great debt to his fellow man,
which debt he proposes
to pay off with your money.
 G. Gordon Liddy
Government’s view of the economy could be summed up   
in a few short phrases:
If it moves, tax it.
If it keeps moving, regulate it.
And if it stops moving, subsidize it.   
Ronald Reagan (1986)


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