Instructions to young people so that they may understand why their parents raise them in the Godly fashion they do.
Asaph the poet, musician, and prophet is the author of this Psalm. Matthew quotes from this Psalm identifying the author as a "prophet" (see Matthew 13:35). Psalm 78 is also one of thirteen poetic Psalms identified as a "maschil." A Maschil is a didactic song sung with the intention of instructing the individual singing as well as praising God.
Asaph's objective is to instill faith and conviction in the new generation of his day. The prophet of God sets out to achieve his objective by examining the faith failures of the people's forefathers. God had been patient, loving, caring, and he performed marvelous wonders before their eyes yet they rejected him. Eventually, God's patience ran out on Ephraim and his favor was turned to Judah, David, and Zion.
Young people may often ponder why their parents are always warning them about sin in the form of worldliness and false doctrines of men. The young may ask why their parents set rules and punish them for disobedience. The young may ponder why they are taken to worship on Sundays. The answers to these questions come in time.
As a new generation experiences the tender love and instructions of their parents they begin to recognize the why of all their upbringing. Moms, dads, and grandparents have seen much sin in their days. Parents and grandparents have felt the sting of sin and they have witnessed the painful consequences of sin in the lives of others. There is great concern that a child will develop a rebellious attitude of disobedience toward God and so we press forward in our teaching and nurturing of our children in great hope of instilling our love for God within their hearts.
Most all true Godly people can relate to this Psalm. We have seen the rebellious, disobedient, and irreverent behavior of generations gone by and present. We watch and listen to class mates, peers, and coworkers ruin their lives with sin. Our earnest desire is to make a difference in the lives of not only our immediate families but the world over. Asaph sets out to open the eyes of the world to rebellion and disobedience toward God. You and can do this same thing if we will do the following things. First, let us teach the world the value of truth. If my children, peers, or coworkers do not see the value of truth it is very likely that they will not be faithful and reverentially obedient to God and his laws. Secondly, we should teach the world that there are awful and eternal consequences to sin. Those who live in sin live with trouble. Thirdly, we should teach all men to be grateful for the blessings they have in this life. To murmur and complain about things in life is to be separate from God. Fourthly, let us teach our fellow man about the frailty and shortness of life. No matter how fun, exciting, or pleasurable some things may seem they are not worth an eternity of suffering. Fifthly, we must teach the world that God is patient; however, his patience is not forever. All people will die and give account for the deeds done in their bodies while among the living. Sixth, we should teach our fellow man to open their eyes to good and evil. Lastly, we may make a difference in the lives of others by teaching them that God has his elect remnant that will always serve him faithfully.
John C Robertson