Psalm 78:8
And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.
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(8) Stubborn.Refractory.

That set not their heart aright.—Literally, did not establish their heart, which preserves the parallelism better.

78:1-8 These are called dark and deep sayings, because they are carefully to be looked into. The law of God was given with a particular charge to teach it diligently to their children, that the church may abide for ever. Also, that the providences of God, both in mercy and in judgment, might encourage them to conform to the will of God. The works of God much strengthen our resolution to keep his commandments. Hypocrisy is the high road to apostacy; those that do not set their hearts right, will not be stedfast with God. Many parents, by negligence and wickedness, become murderers of their children. But young persons, though they are bound to submit in all things lawful, must not obey sinful orders, or copy sinful examples.And might not be as their fathers - Their ancestors, particularly in the wilderness, as they passed through it to the promised land. See Exodus 32:7-9; Exodus 33:3; Exodus 34:9; Acts 7:51-53.

A stubborn and rebellious generation - Stiff-necked, ungovernable; inclined to revolt. Nothing was more remarkable in their early history than this.

A generation that set not their heart aright - Margin, as in Hebrew, "prepared not their heart." That is, they took no pains to keep their heart aright, or to cherish right feelings toward God. They yielded to any sudden impulse of passion, even when it led them to revolt against God. This is as true of sinners now as it was of them, that they "take no pains" to have their hearts right with God. If they did, there would be no difficulty in doing it. It is not with them "an object of desire" to have their hearts right with God, and hence, nothing is more easy or natural than that they should rebel and go astray.

And whose spirit was not stedfast with God - That is, they themselves did not maintain a firm trust in God. They yielded readily to every impulse, and every passion, even when it tended to draw them away wholly from him. There was no such "strength" of attachment to him as would lead them to resist temptation, and they easily fell into the sin of idolatry.

8. stubborn and rebellious—(De 21:18).

set not their heart—on God's service (2Ch 12:14).

That set not their heart aright; who though they outwardly and seemingly complied with the forms of worship which God had prescribed, yet

did not direct or prepare their hearts to the obedience and service of God.

Whose spirit was not stedfast with God; who quickly discovered their hypocrisy by their apostacy from God, and from the religion which they had professed. And might not be as their fathers,.... This chiefly respects the Jews in Christ's time: though it also is an admonition to them in succeeding ages, and especially in the latter day, when they shall be instructed, called, and converted; and even to us, to whom the Gospel is preached, on whom the ends of the world are come, not to be disobedient, as the Jewish fathers were, and to take care we do not fall after the same example of unbelief; this opens the whole scope and general design of the psalm; see 1 Corinthians 10:6,

a stubborn and rebellions generation; as the generation in the wilderness was, Deuteronomy 9:6 and so were their posterity in Christ's time, Matthew 12:34,

a generation that set not their heart aright; to seek the Lord, serve and obey him; their hearts were removed far from him, and they were hypocritical in their prayers to him, and service of him:

and whose spirit was not steadfast with God; did not continue in the faith of God, in the true religion, but departed and apostatized from him; see Psalm 78:37. Apostasy is generally the fruit and effect of hypocrisy; all the following facts support the character which is here given of them.

And might not be as their {g} fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.

(g) Though these fathers were the seed of Abraham and the chosen people, yet he shows by their rebellion, provocation, falsehood, and hypocrisy, that the children should not follow their examples.

8. as their fathers] Primarily, the generation of the wandering in the wilderness; but the warning was true for almost every age.

stubborn and rebellious] Epithets applied in Deuteronomy 21:18 to the son, whom no admonition or chastisement would reform, and for whom accordingly nothing remained but the penalty of death. Cp. Jeremiah 5:23; Deuteronomy 9:7 ff; Deuteronomy 31:27; Deuteronomy 32:5; Deuteronomy 32:20.

that set not their heart aright] Failed to direct and prepare it with stedfast purpose to serve God. Cp. Psalm 78:37.

whose spirit was not stedfast] Better, as in Psalm 78:37, was not faithful. Fickleness, instability, untrustworthiness, were the characteristics of Israel’s conduct.Verse 8. - And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation (comp. Deuteronomy 21:18, 20, for the combination of the two words). The "stubbornness" of Israel is noted in Deuteronomy 9:27; Judges 2:19; and frequently by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 3:17; Jeremiah 7:24; Jeremiah 9:14; Jeremiah 11:8, etc.); their "rebelliousness" in Deuteronomy 9:7, 24; Isaiah 30:1, 9; Isaiah 65:2; Jeremiah 5:23; Ezekiel 2:3-8; Ezekiel 3:9, 26, 27; Ezekiel 12:2, 3, etc. (compare also for the idea 2 Kings 17:14-17:2 Chronicles 36:14-16; Ezra 9:6, 7; Nehemiah 1:6, 7; Daniel 9:5-11; and Acts 7:51, "Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye"). A generation that set not their heart aright; literally, that prepared not their heart - did not make it ready to receive Divine influences (see 1 Samuel 7:3; Job 11:13; 2 Chronicles 20:33). And whose spirit was not steadfast with God. It was not that Israel was wholly without religious feeling, but the feeling was fickle, unsteadfast, never to be depended on (comp. Exodus 32:1-6; Numbers 16:41, 42; Judges 2:17, etc.). The poet begins very similarly to the poet of Psalm 49. He comes forward among the people as a preacher, and demands for his tra a willing, attentive hearing. תּורה is the word for every human doctrine or instruction, especially for the prophetic discourse which sets forth and propagates the substance of the divine teaching. Asaph is a prophet, hence Psalm 78:2 is quoted in Matthew 13:34. as ῥηθὲν διὰ τοῦ προφήτου.

(Note: The reading διὰ Ἠσαΐ́ου τοῦ προφήτου is, although erroneous, nevertheless ancient; since even the Clementine Homilies introduce this passage as the language of Isaiah.)

He here recounts to the people their history מנּי־קדם, from that Egyptaeo-Sinaitic age of yore to which Israel's national independence and specific position in relation to the rest of the world goes back. It is not, however, with the external aspect of the history that he has to do, but with its internal teachings. משׁל is an allegory or parable, παραβολή, more particularly the apophthegm as the characteristic species of poetry belonging to the Chokma, and then in general a discourse of an elevated style, full of figures, thoughtful, pithy, and rounded. חידה is that which is entangled, knotted, involved, perlexe dictum. The poet, however, does not mean to say that he will literally discourse gnomic sentences and propound riddles, but that he will set forth the history of the fathers after the manner of a parable and riddle, so that it may become as a parable, i.e., a didactic history, and its events as marks of interrogation and nota-bene's to the present age. The lxx renders thus: ἀνοίξω ἐν παραβολαῖς τὸ στόμα μου, φθέγξομαι προβλήματα ἀπ ̓ ἀρχῆς. Instead of this the Gospel by Matthew has: ἀνοίξω ἐν παραβολαῖς τὸ στόμα μου, ἐρεύξομαι κεκρυμμένα ἀπὸ καταβολῆς (κόσμου), and recognises in this language of the Psalm a prophecy of Christ; because it is moulded so appropriately for the mouth of Him who is the Fulfiller not only of the Law and of Prophecy, but also of the vocation of the prophet. It is the object-clause to נכחד, and not a relative clause belonging to the "riddles out of the age of yore," that follows in Psalm 78:3 with אשׁר, for that which has been heard only becomes riddles by the appropriation and turn the poet gives to it. Psalm 78:3 begins a new period (cf. Psalm 69:27; Jeremiah 14:1, and frequently): What we have heard, and in consequence thereof known, and what our fathers have told us (word for word, like Psalm 44:1; Judges 6:13), that will we not hide from their children (cf. Job 15:18). The accentuation is perfectly correct. The Rebı̂a by מבניהם has a greater distinctive force than the Rebı̂a by אחרון (לדור); it is therefore to be rendered: telling to the later generation (which is just what is intended by the offspring of the fathers) the glorious deeds of Jahve, etc. The fut. consec. ויּקם joins on to אשׁר עשׂה. Glorious deeds, proofs of power, miracles hath He wrought, and in connection therewith set up an admonition in Jacob, and laid down an order in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, viz., to propagate by tradition the remembrance of those mighty deeds (Exodus 13:8, Exodus 13:14; Deuteronomy 4:9, and other passages). להודיעם has the same object as והודעתּם in Deuteronomy 4:9; Joshua 4:22. The matter in question is not the giving of the Law in general, as the purpose of which, the keeping of the laws, ought then to have been mentioned before anything else, but a precept, the purpose of which was the further proclamation of the magnalia Dei, and indirectly the promotion of trust in god and fidelity to the Law; cf. Psalm 81:5., where the special precept concerning the celebration of the Feast of the Passover is described as a עדוּת laid down in Joseph. The following generation, the children, which shall be born in the course of the ages, were to know concerning His deeds, and also themselves to rise up (יקוּמוּ, not: come into being, like the יבאוּ of the older model-passage Psalm 22:32) and to tell them further to their children, in order that these might place their confidence in god (שׂים כּסל, like שׁית מחסה in Psalm 73:28), and might not forget the mighty deeds of God (Psalm 118:17), and might keep His commandments, being warned by the disobedience of the fathers. The generation of the latter is called סורר וּמרה, just as the degenerate son that is to be stoned is called in Deuteronomy 21:18. הכין לבּו, to direct one's heart, i.e., to give it the right direction or tendency, to put it into the right state, is to be understood after Psalm 78:37, 2 Chronicles 20:33, Sir. 2:17.

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