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Reading:  Psalm 78
(Verses 9-16)
The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows,
turned back on the day of battle;

they did not keep God’s covenant
and refused to live by his law.
They forgot what he had done,
the wonders he had shown them.
He did miracles in the sight of their ancestors
in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan.
He divided the sea and led them through;
he made the water stand up like a wall.
He guided them with the cloud by day
and with light from the fire all night.
He split the rocks in the wilderness
and gave them water as abundant as the seas;
he brought streams out of a rocky crag
and made water flow down like rivers


Hill top path — photo by David Kitz

Today’s reading from Psalm 78 discusses the cowardly behavior of the men of Ephraim. Though they were well-armed, they turned back on the day of battle. There are numerous instances in the annals of war, when a superior force was overwhelmed by fighters who were fewer in number, poorly equipped or both. Why does that happen?

Undoubtedly, armchair generals can provide a list of reasons for the poor performance of “superior forces” in a variety of historic battles. In every instance, the psychology or spirit of the troops is a contributing factor to their success or failure in war. In the case of the men of Ephraim, the psalmist tells us they did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by his law. They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them. How could this forgetfulness lead to defeat in battle?

Actually, Christian men and women are daily defeated in battle because they refuse to live by God’s commands and they forget that God is all-powerful. Soldiers who do not obey orders can’t be counted on in the day of battle. An army that knows its proud history is likely to rise to the occasion, rather than slink off in retreat. It has often been said that past performance is the best predictor of future results.

In the daily battles of life, how are you performing? Are you keeping God’s covenant and obeying the orders of Jesus, our commander-in-chief? Do you realize He is victorious over death, hell and the grave? He’s no second-class wimp. Compared to our Lord, Satan is the third-class wimp, and when you come under the Lord’s command you are on the winning side; so live like it and act like it. He is the miracle worker. Today, the first miracle He is working on is the transformation of your life and mine. Are you up for the challenge, or like the men of Ephraim will you turn back on the day of battle?

Response: LORD God, today I accept the challenge to follow you with all my mind, heart, soul and strength. Give me ears to hear and obey your commands. I pray in Jesus’ all-powerful name. Amen.

Your Turn: Why is daily obedience so crucial to the advancement of the kingdom of God?

* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Some good news: The first volume of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer by award-winning author David Kitz will be published in November, 2020, by Elk Lake Publishing. Two additional volumes will follow in 2021 to complete the three volume set of devotions from the Psalms.