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Psalm 78:36-38 meaning...

The psalmist recounts the historical pattern of the people's behavior towards God, acknowledging their shortcomings. Verse 36 paints a vivid picture of the people's actions: "But they flattered him with their mouth, and lied to him with their tongue." Despite outward expressions of praise and adoration, their hearts were not aligned with God. The use of "flattered" and "lied" emphasizes the insincerity and deceitfulness of their worship.

  • Heart Condition and Covenant Faithfulness:

Verse 37 delves deeper into the root of the issue: "For their heart was not right with him, neither were they faithful in his covenant." The problem extended beyond mere verbal flattery; it was a matter of the heart. Their lack of faithfulness to God's covenant revealed a fundamental disconnect between their professed allegiance and their actual commitment.

"But he, being merciful, forgave iniquity, and didn’t destroy them. Yes, many times he turned his anger away, and didn’t stir up all his wrath." (Psalm 78:38)

  • God's Boundless Mercy:

The striking contrast comes in verse 38, where the psalmist highlights the mercy of God: "But he, being merciful, forgave iniquity, and didn’t destroy them." Despite the people's unfaithfulness, God's mercy prevails. The acknowledgment of God's forgiveness emphasizes His willingness to pardon and extend grace, sparing them from the destruction they deserved.

  • Significance of the Psalm:

Human Frailty and Deceit: The passage acknowledges the inherent frailty and deceitfulness of humanity, revealing that external expressions of worship may not always reflect genuine devotion.

Heart Alignment with God: It underscores the importance of sincere heart alignment with God, highlighting that true worship goes beyond superficial actions and involves a faithful commitment to God's covenant.

God's Mercy and Forgiveness: The central theme centers on the boundless mercy and forgiveness of God. Despite human failings, God's compassion triumphs, offering forgiveness and averting the deserved consequences.


Relevance Today:

Authentic Worship: In a world where external appearances can sometimes overshadow genuine devotion, the passage encourages believers to seek authenticity in their worship, ensuring that heart alignment with God precedes outward expressions.

Covenant Faithfulness: The call to faithfulness in God's covenant remains relevant today. It prompts reflection on the sincerity of one's commitment to God's principles and commands.

Embracing God's Mercy: As individuals grapple with their own shortcomings, the passage serves as a source of hope, reminding them of God's mercy and willingness to forgive when sincere repentance is present.


Cross-References:

Psalm 103:8: "Yahweh is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness." This verse aligns with the portrayal of God's mercy in Psalm 78:38, emphasizing His compassionate and patient nature.

Jeremiah 31:34: "for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." This prophecy reflects the theme of forgiveness, demonstrating God's commitment to forgiving the sins of His people.


Psalm 78:36-38 stands as a timeless narrative, weaving together the complex dynamics of human frailty, divine mercy, and the transformative power of forgiveness.


Psalm 78:36-38. They flattered him with their mouth, and lied to him with their tongue. For their heart was not right with him, neither were they faithful in his covenant. But he, being merciful, forgave iniquity, and didn’t destroy them. Yes, many times he turned his anger away, and didn’t stir up all his wrath.