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Psalms 78:1-7

Context
Psalm 78 1 

A well-written song 2  by Asaph.

78:1 Pay attention, my people, to my instruction!

Listen to the words I speak! 3 

78:2 I will sing a song that imparts wisdom;

I will make insightful observations about the past. 4 

78:3 What we have heard and learned 5 

that which our ancestors 6  have told us –

78:4 we will not hide from their 7  descendants.

We will tell the next generation

about the Lord’s praiseworthy acts, 8 

about his strength and the amazing things he has done.

78:5 He established a rule 9  in Jacob;

he set up a law in Israel.

He commanded our ancestors

to make his deeds known to their descendants, 10 

78:6 so that the next generation, children yet to be born,

might know about them.

They will grow up and tell their descendants about them. 11 

78:7 Then they will place their confidence in God.

They will not forget the works of God,

and they will obey 12  his commands.

1 sn Psalm 78. The author of this lengthy didactic psalm rehearses Israel’s history. He praises God for his power, goodness and patience, but also reminds his audience that sin angers God and prompts his judgment. In the conclusion to the psalm the author elevates Jerusalem as God’s chosen city and David as his chosen king.

2 tn The meaning of the Hebrew term מַשְׂכִּיל (maskil) is uncertain. See the note on the phrase “well-written song” in the superscription of Ps 74.

3 tn Heb “Turn your ear to the words of my mouth.”

4 tn Heb “I will open with a wise saying my mouth, I will utter insightful sayings from long ago.” Elsewhere the Hebrew word pair חִידָה+מָשָׁל (mashal + khidah) refers to a taunt song (Hab 2:6), a parable (Ezek 17:2), proverbial sayings (Prov 1:6), and an insightful song that reflects on the mortality of humankind and the ultimate inability of riches to prevent death (Ps 49:4).

5 tn Or “known.”

6 tn Heb “fathers” (also in vv. 5, 8, 12, 57).

7 tn The pronominal suffix refers back to the “fathers” (“our ancestors,” v. 3).

8 tn Heb “to a following generation telling the praises of the Lord.” “Praises” stand by metonymy for the mighty acts that prompt worship. Cf. Ps 9:14.

9 tn The Hebrew noun עֵדוּת (’edut) refers here to God’s command that the older generation teach their children about God’s mighty deeds in the nation’s history (see Exod 10:2; Deut 4:9; 6:20-25).

10 tn Heb “which he commanded our fathers to make them known to their sons.” The plural suffix “them” probably refers back to the Lord’s mighty deeds (see vv. 3-4).

11 tn Heb “in order that they might know, a following generation, sons [who] will be born, they will arise and will tell to their sons.”

12 tn Heb “keep.”



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