Psalm 78 … Consider Him, Grieved and Pained

How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness
And grieved Him in the desert!
41 Again and again they tempted God,
And pained the Holy One of Israel,
(78:40-41).

Ouch. That was really tough to read, thinking about Holy God being Grieved and Pained. And it’s even tougher to know we’ve all done the same. He is Grieved and Pained by our forgetfulness and unfaithfulness. Psalm 78 is a walk through the nation’s history, and it is not pretty.

Listen, O my people, to my instruction;
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,
(78:1-2).

It’s not they hadn’t already heard, as if they didn’t already know. But because the children of Israel tended to forget so easily, it was so important for them to hear again and again, and to pass on the truth to their children.

We will not conceal them from their children,
But tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done,
(78:4).

And while much of this Psalm recounts the praises of His strength and wondrous works, I just couldn’t get past the thought of His heart, Grieved and Pained, repeatedly.

Consider Him, Grieved and Pained

Sadly, it’s a lengthy list of how He is Grieved and Pained; but because we also tend to forget so easily, it bears repeating, again and again.

  • He is Grieved and Pained by our stubborn rebellion and unfaithfulness.
    • …A stubborn and rebellious generation,
      A generation that did not prepare its heart
      And whose spirit was not faithful to God,
      (78:8).
  • He is Grieved and Pained when we refuse and forget His law and His deeds.
    • They did not keep the covenant of God
      And refused to walk in His law;
      11 They forgot His deeds
      And His miracles that He had shown them,
      (78:10-11).
  • He is Grieved and Pained when we rebel and put our desires above His ways.
    • Yet they still continued to sin against Him,
      To rebel against the Most High in the desert.
      18 And in their heart they put God to the test
      By asking food according to their desire,
      (78:17-18).
  • He is Grieved and Pained when we doubt His love and care.
    • Then they spoke against God;
      They said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
      20 “Behold, He struck the rock so that waters gushed out,
      And streams were overflowing;
      Can He give bread also?
      Will He provide meat for His people?”
      (78:19-20).
  • He is Grieved and Pained when we do not believe and trust His salvation.
    • Because they did not believe in God
      And did not trust in His salvation,
      (78:22).
  • He is Grieved and Pained when we do not believe His works.
    •  In spite of all this they still sinned
      And did not believe in His wonderful works,
      (78:32).
  • He is Grieved and Pained when we give Him lip service rather than our heart in steadfast faith.
    • But they deceived Him with their mouth
      And lied to Him with their tongue.
      37 For their heart was not steadfast toward Him,
      Nor were they faithful in His covenant,
      (78:36-37).
  • He is Grieved and Pained when we persist in doubt and rebellion.
    • How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness
      And grieved Him in the desert!
      41 Again and again they tempted God,
      And pained the Holy One of Israel,
      (78:40-41).
  • He is Grieved and Pained when we forget His powerful redemption.
    • They did not remember His power,
      The day when He redeemed them from the adversary,
      (78:42).
  • He is Grieved and Pained when we turn away from His Word.
    • Yet they tempted and rebelled against the Most High God
      And did not keep His testimonies,
      57 But turned back and acted treacherously like their fathers;
      (78:56-57).
  • He is Grieved and Pained when we pursue our idols.
    • For they provoked Him with their high places
      And aroused His jealousy with their graven images,
      (78:58).
  • Although He is Grieved and Pained, He remembers we are but flesh and He compassionately forgives our sins and faithfully fulfills His covenant purposes.
    •  But He, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity and did not destroy them;
      And often He restrained His anger
      And did not arouse all His wrath.
      39 Thus He remembered that they were but flesh,
      A wind that passes and does not return…

      68 But chose the tribe of Judah,
      Mount Zion which He loved.
      69 And He built His sanctuary like the heights,
      Like the earth which He has founded forever.
      70 He also chose David His servant
      And took him from the sheepfolds;
      71 From the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him
      To shepherd Jacob His people,
      And Israel His inheritance.
      72 So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,
      And guided them with his skillful hands,
      (78:38-39, 68-71).

How do we respond to Him, Grieved and Pained?

It’s an agonizing endeavor, considering how we Grieve and Pain Him in our unbelief, rebellion and refusal to trust. Oh, that our hearts would be broken so that our own grief and pain would move us to confession and repentance.

Let us seek Him in brokenness and humility, asking if there is anything in us, anything in our thoughts, words or deeds that have caused Him to be Grieved and Pained.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way,
(Psalm 139:23-24).

As He faithfully reveals the condition of our heart and behavior, let us be quick to confess any sin that has caused Him to be Grieved and Pained.

For I confess my iniquity;
I am full of anxiety because of my sin,
(Psalm 38:18).

Let us receive His forgiveness, trusting that as we walk in holy reverence and fear of Him, we will not provoke Him to be Grieved and Pained.

If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared,
(Psalm 130:3-4).

Let us be faithful to share the praises of His strength and wondrous works, that future generations will put all their confidence in Him so as to never forget or ignore His commandments that they may never cause Him to be Grieved and Pained.

That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born,
That they may arise and tell them to their children,
That they should put their confidence in God
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments, (78:6-7).

Oh, that we would not be a stubborn and rebellious generation. May we daily prepare our hearts through time spent with Him, as well as time telling others about Him. Oh, may our spirits remain faithful to not cause Him any Grief or Pain.

And not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not prepare its heart
And whose spirit was not faithful to God,
(78:8).

And may we never fail to prepare our hearts as we remember Who He Is, all He has done for us, and the blessing we have in knowing He is in our midst. Let us pray that He would enable us to live in obedience and faith, never to cause Him Grief and Pain, that we may daily walk in His love and joy.

“The Lord your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy,”
(Zephaniah 3:17).

Let’s Grow Together!

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