What verses 18 - 31 mean
The people saw that God gave them water in the *desert. But they needed food as well. They decided to give God a test, or an exam. "Can he prepare a table?", verse 19, means "can he put food on our table?". They did not think that he could! It does not mean that they did not believe that there was a God. They did not believe that he would give them help. In other words, they did not *trust him.
This made God very angry, verse 22. He was so angry (or *furious) that he was like a fire! Before he killed many of their best men, verse 31, he showed them what he could do. He sent *manna, verse 24, and meat, verse 27.
We think that *manna was *like bread. The word "*manna" really means "What is this?" Another word for it in verse 25 is ‘bread’. That is why we think that *manna was *like bread. The psalm gives us a picture. *Manna was what the *angels ate. *Angels live with God in *heaven. So the psalm shows us God opening a door in *heaven (the sky) and raining *manna down on the *Israelites! It is only a picture. We do not know how God really did this *miracle.
And he sent them meat. He made a strong wind that blew birds to them, verse 27. There were so many birds that they were *like bits of sand by the sea! They could eat these birds. We think that they were birds that we call "*quails". But while they ate the *manna and *quails, God killed many of them. We do not know how.
The People Are Not Really Sorry
Psalm 78: 32 - 39
v32 Even when this happened, they still *sinned.
They did not believe that God had done these *miracles.
v33 So he made their days seem to blow away like the wind.
He made their years go away fast (so that they were) afraid!
v34 When he killed (some of) them, (the other people) looked to God.
They were sorry and really prayed to him.
v35 And they remembered that God was their Rock.
Also, (they remembered) that God *Most High was their *Redeemer.
v36 But what they said was not true
and they did not mean what they said with their mouths to *praise him.
v37 They were not honest with him.
They did not obey his *covenant in their heart.
v38 But he was *merciful (to them).
He *forgave their *sin and did not destroy them.
Many times he was not angry (with them)
and did not become *furious (with them).
v39 But he remembered that they were only human,
like a wind that blows away and does not return.
What verses 32 - 39 mean
In verses 22 and 32we read that they did not "believe that God could do" or that God "had done" these *miracles. They did not think that their God was powerful enough! Some Bible students think that these verses mean that they did not believe that there was a God! They certainly did not obey him, or keep his *covenant.
Verse 33 is a nice way of saying what verse 34 says in a clear way. "Days ... to blow away like the wind" and "years to go fast" both mean that life is short. Because God killed them (we do not know how), their lives were shorter than they thought that they would be! This made the people that God did not kill say that they were sorry. They remembered that God was their Rock and their *Redeemer (verse 35).
· Rock was a name for God. It meant that they could build their lives on him (or, maybe, that he is like the Rock that gave them water in the *desert).
· *Redeemer was another name for God. It meant that he gave them help and saved them from their enemies.
Verses 36 – 37: These verses tell us about the people. They did not mean what they said and they did not keep the *covenant. But God was kind (*merciful) to them, verses 38 and 39. Because they were human, he did not destroy them. Instead, he *forgave them. What does the word "*forgive" really mean?
Some people think that "forgive" means "excuse and forget". But here it means more than this. We can only really understand it after Jesus came to the earth. Jesus died to "*forgive" *sin. This means that God "gave" our *sin to Jesus, and Jesus took it away. God gave it for us ... so we say that God forgave us! Paul tells us in Romans 3:25 that the death of Jesus gave "*forgiveness for *sins that are past". This means that God *forgave all the *sins of people in the *Old Testament because Jesus died. This includes the people in Psalm 78:38-39. But they ... *like us ... had to thank God for it!
The People Do Not Remember What God Did In Egypt
Psalm 78: 40 - 55
v40 The people (of Israel) often fought against God in the *desert.
They made him very sad in the *wilderness.
v41 Many times they *tested God
and this made the *Holy One of Israel very *unhappy.
v42 - v43 They chose not to remember what he did when:
· he saved them from the enemy
· he showed his *miracles in Egypt
· he did *wonders in that part (of Egypt called) Zoan
v44 (Here is some of what God did to the Egyptians):
He turned their rivers into blood,
so they could not drink from their streams.
v45 He sent very large numbers of flies that made a lot of trouble for them.
And (he sent) *frogs that made even more trouble!
v46 He gave the plants that they grew to *grasshoppers
and their food to *locusts.
v47 He killed their *vines with *hail
and their *fig-trees with *frost.
v48 He killed their cows with *hail
and their sheep with fire from the sky.
v49 He was so angry that he burned *like a fire against them.
He sent a group of *angels to destroy them
(called) *anger, *fury and *distress.
v50 He made a path for his *anger.
He did not save them from death.
He gave their lives to the *plague.
v51 He killed all the first born (sons) in Egypt,
the oldest boys of the men of Ham.
v52 (This is what God did for his people):
But he took his people (from Egypt) like a *flock.
And he led them like sheep through the *desert.
v53 They were safe with him as a guide and they were not afraid.
But the sea drowned their enemies.
v54 So he brought them to the edge of his *holy (land),
to this hill-country, which his right hand took.
v55 He sent away the people that were living there.
He said which parts (of the land) each group (of his people) could have.
He put the families of Israel in their homes.