National Judgments
Psalm 78:21
Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;

This psalm is emphatically a judgment psalm. It teaches that -

I. NATIONS ARE JUDGED AS WELL AS INDIVIDUALS. History is almost entirely occupied with the judgments of God upon nations. Hence it is that we say, "Happy is that nation which has no history!" for if it has, we know the nature of the record for the most part.

II. THEIR JUDGMENT IS JUST. Study the causes of the decline of empires, nations, and peoples, and it will generally be found that, as with the Canaanitish nations, their vice and wickedness had become so rampant and foul that, for the sake of humanity at large, it was necessary that the besom of God's destruction should sweep them away. Gibbon's great work on the 'Decline and Fall of the Empire of Rome' is really - though Gibbon was far enough from intending it to be so - a theodice, a vindication of God and of his righteousness.

III. BUT SUCH JUDGMENTS DO NOT COME UNTIL ALL OTHER MEANS HAVE BEEN FIRST TRIED. It was so with Israel. They had witnessed the plagues upon Egypt. They had experienced the unstinted mercy and long suffering of God. They had seen the glorious miracles which God wrought on their behalf. They had been taught his holy Law. So that the question of Isaiah 5:4 was altogether just. And so in the history of all nations. If God's vengeance cometh surely, it cometh very slowly; so that, perchance, it may not need to come at all.

IV. THEY ARE EXECUTED IN THE PRESENT LIFE. There is no future judgement for nations. When Christ came, as he did at the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. , the judgment he predicted should then take place was fulfilled.

V. IN THEM THE INNOCENT SUFFER WITH THE GUILTY. This is inevitable. The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children. Hence -

VI. THEY PREDICT THE FUTURE FINAL JUDGMENT. God shall then judge every man according to his works, as is not possible in the judgments of the nations now.

VII. ARE EFFECTUAL BUT FOR A TIME. They do not put an end to sin, but only stay it for a season (ver. 34).

VIII. ARE ACCORDING TO RIGHTEOUSNESS. The leaders in sin shall suffer deepest condemnation. See the doom of Ephraim, Israel's ringleader in iniquity (vers. 9, 57, 67).

IX. THE SINS WHICH PROVOKE THEM DO NOT HINDER THE PURPOSES OF GOD. (Ver. 70.) David was raised up to carry on what should have been Ephraim's work.


Parallel Verses
KJV: Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;

WEB: Therefore Yahweh heard, and was angry. A fire was kindled against Jacob, anger also went up against Israel,

Mistrust that Destroys
Top of Page
Top of Page