Psalm 78:1-22, 34-38
I worked as a sales representative for a pest control company for a little over a year, and it was—without a doubt—the most stressful job I’ve ever had. The hours weren’t that bad, the pay was really good, and I got along great with most of my co-workers. The problem, probably endemic to just about every sales job out there, was summed up in a common question asked by my boss on a regular basis: “What have you done for me lately?” He didn’t care if I had made a lot of sales last year, last month, or even last week. If I wasn’t making the numbers required, then my job was on the line. More so than in any other profession, my job was continually in jeopardy.
The reason I bring this up is because I think of that question whenever I think about the history of Israel. Psalm 78 has 72 verses, so we won’t read them all here. The rest of the Psalm basically goes through a list of how God had blessed Israel over and over and over, starting in the land of Egypt and continuing through to the present day. He'd chosen them out of all the peoples of the earth, not because they deserved it, but because of his sovereign choice and because of his promises to Abraham. He'd performed incredible miracles, signs, and judgments in Egypt, and delivered them out of death and slavery. Let’s make just a partial list of what he did—just during the time of Moses, shall we? The ten plagues of Egypt (sparing the Hebrews), the parting of the Red Sea, a cloud to shade them by day, a fire to give them light at night, bread out of heaven, water from a rock, protection from their enemies, victory in combat, the giving of the Law, etc.
And what had been their response to all this? Gratitude? Obedience? No—selective amnesia. Asking him continually “So what have you done for me lately?” Repeated rebellion. Continuous complaints. Attributing to God the basest of motives (“He’s brought us out here to kill us all!”).
And how did he treat them? With patience. Kindness. Mother-like gentleness. Mercy. Grace. When God revealed himself to Moses, he called himself “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Time after time after time, he demonstrated this.
Why do I bring this all up? Well, why do you think I brought it up? Because Israel’s history is ours. How often has my Father blessed me and I take his goodness for granted? How often has he forgiven me for outright rebellion?
Please don’t misunderstand me. The point here is not to lay a guilt trip on you or me, at least that’s not the goal. The goal is to inspire some gratitude, and maybe a stronger commitment to following him more closely and listening to his instructions more intently. And maybe to stop asking that stupid question.
Lord Jesus, you are so good to me. You have blessed me so much in so many areas of my life. Please help me to trust, and to obey.