Hear My Teaching, My People

A contemplation by Asaph.

1 Hear my teaching, my people.
Turn your ears to the words of my mouth.

2 I will open my mouth in a parable.
I will utter dark sayings of old,
3 which we have heard and known,
and our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children,
telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
his strength, and his wondrous deeds that he has done.
5 For he established a covenant in Jacob,
and appointed a teaching in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers,
that they should make them known to their children,
6 that the generation to come might know,
the children who would be born,
who would arise and tell their children,
7 that they might set their hope in God,
and not forget God’s deeds,
but keep his commandments.
8 Then they would not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation that did not make their hearts loyal,
whose spirit was not steadfast with God.

9 The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows,
turned back in the day of battle.
10 They did not keep God’s covenant
and refused to walk in his law.
11 They forgot the deeds he had done,
his wondrous deeds that he had shown them.
12 He did marvelous things in the sight of their fathers,
in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
13 He split the sea and caused them to pass through.
He made the waters stand like a wall.
14 In the daytime he also led them with a cloud
and all night with a light of fire.
15 He split 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 they still went on to sin against him,
to rebel against the Most High in the desert.
18 They tested God in their heart
by demanding food according to their desire.
19 Yes, they spoke against God.
They said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
20 He struck the rock,
so that waters gushed out
and streams overflowed.
Can he give bread also?
Will he provide meat for his people?”

21 Therefore the Lord heard and was angry.
A fire was kindled against Jacob.
Anger also went up against Israel,
22 because they did not believe in God,
and did not trust in his salvation.

23 Yet he commanded the skies above
and opened the doors of heaven.
24 He rained down manna on them to eat
and gave them food from the sky.
25 Man ate the bread of angels.
He sent them food to the full.
26 He caused the east wind to blow in the sky.
By his power he guided the south wind.
27 He also rained meat on them like the dust,
winged birds like the sand of the seas.
28 He let them fall in the middle of their camp,
around their habitations.
29 So they ate and were well filled.
He gave them what they craved.

30 They did not turn from their cravings.
Their food was yet in their mouths,
31 when the anger of God went up against them,
killed some of their strongest of them,
and struck down the finest young men of Israel.

32 For all this they still sinned
and did not believe in his wondrous works.
33 Therefore he ended their days in futility
and their years in terror.
34 When he began killing them,
then they sought after him.
They returned and sought God in earnest.
35 They remembered that God was their rock,
the Most High God, their redeemer.

36 But they flattered him with their mouth
and lied to him with their tongue.
37 For their heart was not right with him,
nor were they faithful in his covenant.

38 But he, being merciful, forgave their sin,
and did not destroy them.
Yes, many times he turned his anger away
and did not stir up all his wrath.
39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
a wind that passes away and does not return.

40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
and grieved him in the desert!
41 They turned back and tempted God
and provoked the Holy One of Israel.

42 They did not remember his hand,
nor the day when he redeemed them from the adversary,
43 how he set his signs in Egypt,
his wonders in the field of Zoan.

44 He 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 to the caterpillar,
and their labor to the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail,
their sycamore fig trees with frost.
48 He subjected their livestock to hail
and their flocks to hot thunderbolts.

49 He unleashed on them,
the fierceness of his anger,
wrath, indignation, and trouble,
and a band of destroying angels.
50 He made a path for his anger.
He did not spare them from death,
but subjected their life to pestilence,
51 and struck all the firstborn in Egypt,
the firstfruit of their virility in the tents of Ham.

52 But he led out his own people like sheep,
and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
53 He led them safely, so that they were not afraid,
but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
54 He brought them to the border of his sanctuary,
to this mountain, which his right hand had taken.
55 He also drove out the nations before them,
allotted them as an inheritance by line,
and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.

56 Yet they tested and provoked the Most High God,
and did not keep his commands.
57 They turned back and dealt treacherously like their fathers.
They were twisted like a deceitful bow.

58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places,
and moved him to jealousy with their idols.
59 When God heard this, he was angry,
and greatly abhorred Israel,
60 so that he abandoned the tent of Shiloh,
the tent which he placed among men,
61 and delivered his strength into captivity,
his glory into the adversary’s hand.
62 He also gave his people over to the sword,
and was angry with his inheritance.
63 Fire devoured their young men.
Their maidens had no wedding song.
64 Their priests fell by the sword,
and their widows could not weep.

65 Then the Lord awakened like one out of sleep,
like a mighty warrior who shouts because of too much wine.
66 He struck his adversaries backward.
He put them to a perpetual shame.
67 Moreover he rejected the tent of Joseph,
and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim,
68 But chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion which he loved.
69 He built his sanctuary like the heights,
like the earth which he has established forever.
70 He also chose David 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 with the skillfulness of his hands.

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