20 True, he struck the rock, and water gushed out, streams flowed abundantly, but can he also give us bread? Can he supply meat for his people?” Psalm 78:20
It’s amusing to see how the Israelites argued against trusting God.
Water from a rock is miraculous no matter how you look at it. Gushing water does not come out of a rock natively. It’s not natural, and never has been. Water gushes over, under, and around rocks but not from within the rock itself. It is a totally miraculous event. So why, then, did they not trust Him for other basic essentials such as bread and meat?
Perhaps – just perhaps they weren’t doing what they needed to do daily to keep their focus on God. I’m not sure what that would have looked like back then, but it’s a little easier to see what it would look like now: Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship are just three activities that come to mind. If you are only doing those occasionally, then it becomes that much more difficult to trust when the rubber meets the road, so to speak.
What it boils down to is this: the faith journey we’re on is a daily pursuit of Christ. When we do that, having faith for the bigger things is the next “logical” step for us.
I’ve known both experiences, and much prefer the daily pursuit over a weekly or monthly pursuit.
17 But they continued to sin against him, rebelling in the wilderness against the Most High.
18 They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved.
19 They spoke against God; they said, “Can God really spread a table in the wilderness?” Psalm 78:17-18
Fortunately for us, we know “the rest of the story” to these events for the children of Israel. We may even shake our heads at how shortsighted these people were. But again, we know how it ends because we’ve read it often. Those walking through it had no idea what would happen. They had the testimonies of those who came before them, and many of them had seen God at work. When their backs were up against the wall, they forgot those prior blessings and miracles. They weren’t stupid; they just couldn’t see how He was going to save them again!
Our lives parallel theirs.
Has God blessed us in the past? Check.
Has He gotten us through various quandaries? Check.
Is He able to get us through what is in front of us right now? Well yes. Probably. Hmm. Maybe not. Maybe this is too hard for Him.
We would never say it out loud but sometimes think it!
It’s easy to have hindsight after all has been said and done, but it’s entirely different to have faith for the task at hand, especially when we don’t know the outcome.
12 He did miracles in the sight of their ancestors in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea and led them through; he made the water stand up like a wall.
14 He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night.
15 He split the rocks in the wilderness and gave them water as abundant as the seas;
16 he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers. Psalm 78:12-16
Asaph reminded his readers (through song) of the major events in the lives of the Israelites. Those listening to this music would have understood right away what Asaph was referencing. Those were huge miracles for such a tiny nation.
So why did He do it? Why did He choose Israel to be His chosen people? Jews have been asking that question for thousands of years. It all boils down to the same question we ask ourselves, “Why us? What have we ever done to deserve such mercy?”
It’s the same question Billy Graham said he’s going to ask God when he gets to heaven: “Why did you choose to use a good ol’ North Carolina boy like You did?”
Keep asking the question and marveling about God’s goodness.
11 They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them. Psalm 78:11
Remember the old Steve Martin line, “What do you do when you’re caught speeding and asked why you were speeding?” You tell the officer, “I forgot.” We smile because we know we could never get away with something so silly.
But as life moves on, we forget what God has done in our lives. We forget the misery and pain we once knew. We forget what we had to do to overcome that habit. We just forget. It’s not a conscious effort on our part but we still forget.
So there’s a reason for chapters of Psalms like this. It’s to remind us of the life events the Israelites went through to get to where they were.
Because we have so much media buzzing around our heads all day every day, we sometimes can’t remember what we had for supper last night.
Back in the day many churches had Sunday evening or Wednesday evening services (some may still have them) where people were free to stand up and tell people what God has done in their lives. In this way we are reminding each other of God’s goodness.
Anything we can do to keep God fresh in our minds really does help us when we’re trying to remember things beyond a month ago.
9 The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle;
10 they did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by his law. Psalm 78:9-10
We don’t know precisely what “the men of Ephraim” were involved in to have such a mention in this chapter, but it certainly wasn’t laudable (Spurgeon suggests it might have been about guarding and subsequent capture of the Ark of the Covenant ).
Whatever it is they did, these men turned tail and ran. What was it that caused this? Why were they fearful? They had weapons so why didn’t they use them? There was more to it than just being cowardly.
They were cowardly without the power of God to “back them up.” They didn’t have the power of God because they weren’t living right.
Fast forward 4000 years. We have weapons (Ephesians 5) and we don’t use them. The Holy Spirit of God wants to empower us to live holy and Godly lives (Titus 2:10-11 – For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age).
What’s your armor like today? What battles are you facing that you absolutely positively need the power of God to intervene?