Life-Study of Psalms, by Witness Lee

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The subject of Psalm 78 is man’s failure and God’s restoration.

A. The Recall of Israel’s Failure in the Past

Verses 1 through 58 are the psalmist’s recall of Israel’s failure in the past. Verse 2 says, "I will open my mouth in a parable;/I will utter riddles from of old." This is quoted in Matthew 13:35 with respect to Christ’s speaking in parables. The psalmist goes on to say that the things which were related to them by their fathers they will relate to the generation to come, especially regarding the "praises of Jehovah and His strength/And His wondrous deeds that He has done" (v. 4).

B. The Issue of Israel’s Failure

Verses 59 through 64 describe the issue of Israel’s failure. God greatly abhorred Israel, forsook the tabernacle in Shiloh, gave over His ark into captivity and His glory into the hand of the adversary, and delivered His people to the sword (vv. 59-62).

C. God’s Restoration of Israel

In verses 65 through 72 we have a word concerning God’s restoration of Israel. He chose Mount Zion, which He loved, and "He built His sanctuary like the heights,/Like the earth that He has founded forever" (vv. 68-69). He chose David His servant, and David, a marvelous king, "shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,/And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands" (v. 72).


Psalms 79 and 80 reveal that restoration comes by exalting Christ.

A. The Devastation of God’s Temple

Psalm 79:1-3 speaks about the devastation of God’s temple. In verse 1 the psalmist says, "O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance;/They have defiled Your holy temple;/They have turned Jerusalem into heaps."

B. The Psalmist’s Cry to God for the People

Verses 4 through 13 are the psalmist’s cry to God for the people, his prayer for the devastated Israel.

C. The Psalmist’s Prayer for Israel as God’s Flock

In 80:1-7 we have the psalmist’s prayer for Israel as God’s flock. The psalmist prayed that the Shepherd of Israel would give ear (v. 1). In both verse 3 and verse 7, he prayed, "O God, restore us;/And cause Your face to shine, and we will be saved."

D. God’s Dealing with Israel as His Vine

In verses 8 through 13 the psalmist speaks regarding God’s dealing with Israel as His vine, which He brought out of Egypt and planted. Whereas the vine once was flourishing, it eventually became desolate.

(Life-Study of Psalms, Chapter 31, by Witness Lee)