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Psalm 78 American Standard Version (ASV)

God’s guidance of his people in spite of their unfaithfulness.

Maschil of Asaph.

78 Give ear, O my people, to my [a]law:
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
Telling to the generation to come the praises of Jehovah,
And his strength, and his wondrous works that he hath done.
For he established a testimony in Jacob,
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which he commanded our fathers,
That they should make them known to their children;
That the generation to come might know them, even the children that should be born;
Who should arise and tell them to their children,
That they might set their hope in God,
And not forget the works of God,
But keep his commandments,
And might not be as their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation [b]that set not their heart aright,
And whose spirit was not stedfast with God.
The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows,
Turned back in the day of battle.
10 They kept not the covenant of God,
And refused to walk in his law;
11 And they forgat his doings,
And his wondrous works that he had showed them.
12 Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers,
In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
13 He clave the sea, and caused them to pass through;
And he made the waters to stand as a heap.
14 In the day-time also he led them with a cloud,
And all the night with a light of fire.
15 He clave rocks in the wilderness,
And gave them drink abundantly as out of the depths.
16 He brought streams also out of the rock,
And caused waters to run down like rivers.
17 Yet went they on still to sin against him,
To rebel against the Most High in [c]the desert.
18 And they tempted God in their heart
By asking food [d]according to their desire.
19 Yea, they spake against God;
They said, Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
20 Behold, he smote the rock, so that waters gushed out,
And streams overflowed;
Can he give bread also?
Will he provide flesh for his people?
21 Therefore Jehovah heard, and was wroth;
And a fire was kindled against Jacob,
And anger also went up against Israel;
22 Because they believed not in God,
And trusted not in his salvation.
23 Yet he commanded the skies above,
And opened the doors of heaven;
24 And he rained down manna upon them to eat,
And gave them [e]food from heaven.
25 [f]Man did eat the bread of the mighty:
He sent them food to the full.
26 He [g]caused the east wind to blow in the heavens;
And by his power he guided the south wind.
27 He rained flesh also upon them as the dust,
And winged birds as the sand of the seas:
28 And he let it fall in the midst of their camp,
Round about their habitations.
29 So they did eat, and were well filled;
And he gave them their own desire.
30 They were not estranged from that which they desired,
Their food was yet in their mouths,
31 When the anger of God went up against them,
And slew of the fattest of them,
And smote down the young men of Israel.
32 For all this they sinned still,
And believed not in his wondrous works.
33 Therefore their days did he consume in vanity,
And their years in terror.
34 When he slew them, then they inquired after him;
And they returned and sought God earnestly.
35 And they remembered that God was their rock,
And the Most High God their redeemer.
36 But they flattered him with their mouth,
And lied unto him with their tongue.
37 For their heart was not [h]right with him,
Neither were they faithful in his covenant.
38 But he, being merciful, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not:
Yea, many a time turned he his anger away,
And did not stir up all his wrath.
39 And he remembered that they were but flesh,
A wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.
40 How oft did they rebel against him in the wilderness,
And grieve him in the desert!
41 And they turned again and tempted God,
And [i]provoked the Holy One of Israel.
42 They remembered not his hand,
Nor the day when he redeemed them from the adversary;
43 How he set his signs in Egypt,
And his wonders in the field of Zoan,
44 And turned their rivers into blood,
And their streams, so that they could not drink.
45 He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them;
And frogs, which destroyed them.
46 He gave also their increase unto the caterpillar,
And their labor unto the locust.
47 He [j]destroyed their vines with hail,
And their sycomore-trees with [k]frost.
48 He gave over their cattle also to the hail,
And their flocks to hot thunderbolts.
49 He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger,
Wrath, and indignation, and trouble,
[l]A band of angels of evil.
50 He [m]made a path for his anger;
He spared not their soul from death,
But gave [n]their life over to the pestilence,
51 And smote all the first-born in Egypt,
The [o]chief of their strength in the tents of Ham.
52 But he led forth his own people like sheep,
And guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
53 And he led them safely, so that they feared not;
But the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
54 And he brought them to [p]the border of his sanctuary,
To this [q]mountain, which his right hand had gotten.
55 He drove out the nations also before them,
And allotted them for an inheritance by line,
And made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.
56 Yet they tempted and rebelled against the Most High God,
And kept not his testimonies;
57 But turned back, and dealt treacherously like their fathers:
They were turned aside like a deceitful bow.
58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places,
And moved him to jealousy with their graven images.
59 When God heard this, he was wroth,
And greatly abhorred Israel;
60 So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh,
The tent which he placed among men;
61 And delivered his strength into captivity,
And his glory into the adversary’s hand.
62 He gave his people over also unto the sword,
And was wroth with his inheritance.
63 Fire devoured their young men;
And their virgins had no marriage-song.
64 Their priests fell by the sword;
And their widows made no lamentation.
65 Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep,
Like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.
66 And he smote his adversaries backward:
He put them to a perpetual reproach.
67 Moreover he refused the tent of Joseph,
And chose not the tribe of Ephraim,
68 But chose the tribe of Judah,
The mount Zion which he loved.
69 And he built his sanctuary like the heights,
Like the earth which he hath established for ever.
70 He chose David also his servant,
And took him from the sheepfolds:
71 From following the ewes that have their young he brought him,
To be the shepherd of Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.
72 So he was their shepherd according to the integrity of his heart,
And guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.


  1. Psalm 78:1 Or, teaching
  2. Psalm 78:8 Or, that prepared not their heart
  3. Psalm 78:17 Or, a dry land
  4. Psalm 78:18 Or, for themselves
  5. Psalm 78:24 Hebrew grain.
  6. Psalm 78:25 Or, Every one
  7. Psalm 78:26 Hebrew led forth the east wind.
  8. Psalm 78:37 Or, stedfast
  9. Psalm 78:41 Or, limited
  10. Psalm 78:47 Hebrew killed.
  11. Psalm 78:47 Or, great hailstones
  12. Psalm 78:49 Hebrew A sending.
  13. Psalm 78:50 Hebrew levelled.
  14. Psalm 78:50 Or, their beasts to the murrain
  15. Psalm 78:51 Hebrew beginning. See Dt. 21:17.
  16. Psalm 78:54 Or, his holy border
  17. Psalm 78:54 Or, mountain land

Psalm 78 New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 78

A maskil[a] of Asaph.

My people, hear my teaching;
    listen to the words of my mouth.
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.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
    and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
    to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
    even the children yet to be born,
    and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
    and would not forget his deeds
    but would keep his commands.
They would not be like their ancestors
    a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
    whose spirits were not faithful to him.

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.
11 They forgot what he had done,
    the wonders he had shown them.
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.

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?
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?”
21 When the Lord heard them, he was furious;
    his fire broke out against Jacob,
    and his wrath rose against Israel,
22 for they did not believe in God
    or trust in his deliverance.
23 Yet he gave a command to the skies above
    and opened the doors of the heavens;
24 he rained down manna for the people to eat,
    he gave them the grain of heaven.
25 Human beings ate the bread of angels;
    he sent them all the food they could eat.
26 He let loose the east wind from the heavens
    and by his power made the south wind blow.
27 He rained meat down on them like dust,
    birds like sand on the seashore.
28 He made them come down inside their camp,
    all around their tents.
29 They ate till they were gorged—
    he had given them what they craved.
30 But before they turned from what they craved,
    even while the food was still in their mouths,
31 God’s anger rose against them;
    he put to death the sturdiest among them,
    cutting down the young men of Israel.

32 In spite of all this, they kept on sinning;
    in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.
33 So he ended their days in futility
    and their years in terror.
34 Whenever God slew them, they would seek him;
    they eagerly turned to him again.
35 They remembered that God was their Rock,
    that God Most High was their Redeemer.
36 But then they would flatter him with their mouths,
    lying to him with their tongues;
37 their hearts were not loyal to him,
    they were not faithful to his covenant.
38 Yet he was merciful;
    he forgave their iniquities
    and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger
    and did not stir up his full wrath.
39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
    a passing breeze that does not return.

40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
    and grieved him in the wasteland!
41 Again and again they put God to the test;
    they vexed the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember his power—
    the day he redeemed them from the oppressor,
43 the day he displayed his signs in Egypt,
    his wonders in the region of Zoan.
44 He turned their river into blood;
    they could not drink from their streams.
45 He sent swarms of flies that devoured them,
    and frogs that devastated them.
46 He gave their crops to the grasshopper,
    their produce to the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail
    and their sycamore-figs with sleet.
48 He gave over their cattle to the hail,
    their livestock to bolts of lightning.
49 He unleashed against them his hot anger,
    his wrath, indignation and hostility—
    a band of destroying angels.
50 He prepared a path for his anger;
    he did not spare them from death
    but gave them over to the plague.
51 He struck down all the firstborn of Egypt,
    the firstfruits of manhood in the tents of Ham.
52 But he brought his people out like a flock;
    he led them like sheep through the wilderness.
53 He guided them safely, so they were unafraid;
    but the sea engulfed their enemies.
54 And so he brought them to the border of his holy land,
    to the hill country his right hand had taken.
55 He drove out nations before them
    and allotted their lands to them as an inheritance;
    he settled the tribes of Israel in their homes.

56 But they put God to the test
    and rebelled against the Most High;
    they did not keep his statutes.
57 Like their ancestors they were disloyal and faithless,
    as unreliable as a faulty bow.
58 They angered him with their high places;
    they aroused his jealousy with their idols.
59 When God heard them, he was furious;
    he rejected Israel completely.
60 He abandoned the tabernacle of Shiloh,
    the tent he had set up among humans.
61 He sent the ark of his might into captivity,
    his splendor into the hands of the enemy.
62 He gave his people over to the sword;
    he was furious with his inheritance.
63 Fire consumed their young men,
    and their young women had no wedding songs;
64 their priests were put to the sword,
    and their widows could not weep.

65 Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
    as a warrior wakes from the stupor of wine.
66 He beat back his enemies;
    he put them to everlasting shame.
67 Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,
    he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
68 but he chose the tribe of Judah,
    Mount Zion, which he loved.
69 He built his sanctuary like the heights,
    like the earth that he established forever.
70 He chose David his servant
    and took him from the sheep pens;
71 from tending the sheep he brought him
    to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
    of Israel his inheritance.
72 And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
    with skillful hands he led them.


  1. Psalm 78:1 Title: Probably a literary or musical term
New International Version (NIV)

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