By Chad Napier, Crosswalk.com
The psalmist and music leader Asaph wrote Psalm 78 to give praise unto the Lord and offer a testimony of remembrance to future generations of God’s faithfulness. His testimony in song is as relevant today to remind our generation and those to come after us why “worship is worth it” regardless of whether we feel like it or the state of the times makes us doubt His presence.
1. We Must Keep the Chain Going
In Psalm 78:2-4, Asaph stated his purpose: “I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.”
By keeping the testimony of God’s faithfulness alive, future generations are reminded and are given the assurance that our Lord is capable and willing to handle the circumstances of today. We voluntarily stress ourselves by contemplating the impact of inflation, the moral state of our country, the war in Ukraine, the effects of the pandemic, and the spiritual condition of the church. However, our grandparents can give testimony of living through world wars, pandemics, depressions, and segregation. They did not have the technology and means of communication of today, yet, our God was actively present and did mighty things in spite of the circumstances. Rest assured our Savior is still seated at the right hand of the Heavenly Father.
Paul, in his second letter to his fellow servant Timothy, gave special attention to the testimony passed down to him. He wrote, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” Similarly, David wrote in Psalm 145:4, “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.” Our personal testimony of redemption is our greatest praise unto our Savior and serves as a witness to the world.
2. We’ve Been Fed
God “opened the doors of heaven, and had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them corn of heaven” to feed His people. We in the church age have been fed bountifully as well. In John 6:51, Jesus described himself as the “living bread that came down from heaven.” We have 66 books from which to feed upon. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus indicated such when he spoke, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
This fact is complemented by Jesus’s words in John 6:63: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life..” Spurgeon wrote, “we will even now feed on Thee as our spiritual meat, and will pray Thee to chase away all wicked unbelief from us.”
3. We’ve Been Clothed in His Provision
Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, clothed His chosen people with a cloud in the daytime and “all the night with a light of fire.” He used Moses and protected them with the “clave of rocks in the wilderness.” Our inheritance and clothing today are solely given through the power and provision of Jesus Christ. In Isaiah 61:10, the prophet wrote that the Lord, “has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness.” Job had this understanding as well when he wrote in 29:14, “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me.”
The proven failings of our self-righteousness are described to be as “filthy rags,” cogitating not only uselessness but also their repugnant nature in the eyes of an all-holy, all-righteous God. Ephesians 5:25-27 explains that He gave himself for the church “that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
4. We’ve Been Cleansed
The rollercoaster ride of disobedience to repentance to obedience and return to disobedience expounded in the journeys of the Israelites reveal God’s deliverance in terms of His mercy and grace. Following a manifestation of judgment, “they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.” The foundation of our covenant is the cleansing power of the blood of Christ. Jesus' words in Matthew 26:28 specified, “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many of the forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:14 tells us, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
Christ was our propitiation, or deflection, from the wrath suffered as punishment for our sins. Unlike the sacrificial system in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ was the perfect offering once and for all. When we are connected through His cleansing and purifying blood shed on the cross, we are protected and granted the inheritance of Jesus Christ as a joint heir. The Heavenly Father sees the imputed righteousness of His son upon the believer. This cleansing is an eternal sealing from sin’s dominion over our lives. Thus, we are judgment proof for all of eternity.
5. He’s Present
God “made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.” Indeed, He is the good shepherd as extensively identified in Psalms 23. David’s early life gave him an understanding of the importance of the shepherd being close to his flock. In Psalms 46:1, the psalmist declared the Lord to be “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
The safety and provision of His flock are of the utmost importance to the shepherd. Similarly, our pastors are the shepherds of our churches by feeding them only the pure doctrine and theology from the Word of God for their guidance and growth. He is given the charge in Acts 20:28 to, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”
6. He Fights Our Battles
In verses 43-52, Asaph recalls how our mighty Lord ravaged Egypt precipitating the deliverance of His people. He contaminated the rivers with blood, sent devouring flies and frogs, inundated the land with caterpillars and locusts, crops were decimated by hail and frost, and their cattle were slaughtered by hail and flocks by thunderbolts. Further, the anger of the Lord sent the angel of death upon them. Despite the wrath and indignation, Asaph emphasized in verse 52 that our Lord, “made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.”
The children of God in the Old Testament fought many of their battles against physical forces in claiming their land inheritances through the blessing of God. Our inheritance is in Jesus Christ, an ever-present Lord and Savior. His blood fought and won our battle over the judgment and dominion of sin. However, like the Israelites had to drive out occupiers from their inheritance, we must use the power of the Holy Spirit to drive out the contemplations of the flesh and besetting sins by claiming the blessings of our covenant in our wilderness in a world beset with sin. Paul in Ephesians 6:12, tells us that our battles are not against “flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
These forces cannot be overcome with bullets. Our arsenal need only consist of the power, provision, protection, and guidance of the Holy Spirit as promised in the Word of God.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Jantanee Rungpranomkorn
Chad Napier is a believer in Christ, attorney at law, wannabe golfer, runner, dog lover, and writer. He enjoys serving his church as a deacon, Sunday School teacher, and fill-in preacher. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter. He and his wife Brandi reside in Tennessee with their canine son Alistair.