Within the 72 verses of psalm 78, the writer goes over the complicated relationship between God and his people. He sets out to tell an important story of Israel’s lack of continuing faith in God, despite his “glorious deeds…his might and the wonders he has done.” He charged the people to teach this to following generations and to trust God in tough times by remembering what he has done.
The problem is that every generation was disobedient and lived with no purpose neglecting to set their hearts steadfastly on God’s steadfast love. For instance, though He had split a rock in the wilderness from which water poured out in abundance, “they sinned again.” They raised the question, Yes, he gave us water, but will God “spread a table in the wilderness…will God give us bread as well…can he provide meat.”
This psalm is for the continually dissatisfied. We always want something more, something new, something which someone else has but we don’t. We look through the lens of what we don’t have. And despite all the Lord does, “they persisted in their sin and had no faith in his wonders.” Sometimes the Lord reacted in anger. Other times he controlled his wrath. But in the end the psalmist wrote, “yet he was merciful, wiping out guilt and not destroying… He chose David to be his servant and took him from the sheepfold to be the shepherd of his people.”
The story of this psalm is our story. The shepherd who guides us, is the son of David, Jesus Christ who shepherds us to approach the throne of God boldly for there we will find grace and will receive mercy in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)