I remember once being given the advice, “if you’re visiting a Cathedral for evensong and it’s Psalm 78, take a book to read.” It’s the longest Psalm apart from 119, and if the other psalms we’ve read draw upon God’s faithfulness as a ground for present confidence, this one really rams the point home then jumps up and down on it.
The psalmist calls upon Israel to pass her story down from generation to generation, then spells of exactly what that story is. It’s a story of a faithful God who time after time has had to discipline his wayward people, and who has always been there waiting for them to come back.
This evening I’ve been looking at the Parable of the Father and his sons with our adult discipleship group. This Psalm feels a bit like the Parable on a national scale with added scenes where the father sends servants into the far-off-land to make sure that the prodigal son’s life is sufficiently difficult that he’ll come to his senses. (Perhaps Jesus forgot that bit of the story). Like Jesus’ father in the story, God in this Psalm remains waiting and forgiving when his people turn back on to the right path.
What story are we living by, and what story will we pass on to the next generation?