Learn from the Past or Repeat It

Psalm 78 - Learn from the Past or Repeat It

The Spanish philosopher George Santayana is the person who is thought to have coined this phrase:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Mark Twain supposedly said:

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.

One of the stupidest things that people ever say is, “I want to make my own mistakes.” I think every teenager says this to their parents at some time. I know I did, but wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others so we don’t have to make them.

This Psalm is a message to the next generation to learn one very specific lesson from history. We’ll get to that lesson in a minute, but before we do, let’s just say this:

If we lose the next generation, all is lost. The single most important job that we have is passing down the truth of God from generation to generation. We had better be dead serious about teaching our children to love God’s word and teaching them to follow our God. It’s one of the most important jobs that we have.

Deuteronomy 6:7 says:

”And thou shalt teach them (and that’s the truths of God) diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

The main message of this Psalm:

Next generation, learn the lesson of the Northern Kingdom.

(The Northern Kingdom in this Psalm is represented by Ephraim; the southern Kingdom is represented by Judah.)

What the Northern Kingdom did (9-11):

  • They fainted in battle (9)
  • They didn’t keep God’s covenant (10)
  • They forgot all that they had seen God do (11)

What the Northern Kingdom saw (12-29):

  • God rescue them from Egypt (12)
  • God part the Red Sea (13)
  • God lead them with the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night (14)
  • God give them water out of rocks (15-16)
  • God give them manna out of heaven (23-25)
  • God give them meat when the manna wasn’t enough (26-29)

What they experienced:

  • God’s salvation
  • God’s provision
  • God’s unbelievable mercy and forgiveness
  • God’s judgment when they pushed too far

The Contrast Presented:

  • Ephraim is replaced as the leader with Judah (67-72)
  • Jesus would come through the tribe of Judah.