Numbers 34 & Psalm 78B

Numbers 34

    The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Command the people of Israel, and say to them, When you enter the land of Canaan (this is the land that shall fall to you for an inheritance, the land of Canaan as defined by its borders), your south side shall be from the wilderness of Zin alongside Edom, and your southern border shall run from the end of the Salt Sea on the east. And your border shall turn south of the ascent of Akrabbim, and cross to Zin, and its limit shall be south of Kadesh-barnea. Then it shall go on to Hazar-addar, and pass along to Azmon. And the border shall turn from Azmon to the Brook of Egypt, and its limit shall be at the sea.

    “For the western border, you shall have the Great Sea and its coast. This shall be your western border.

    “This shall be your northern border: from the Great Sea you shall draw a line to Mount Hor. From Mount Hor you shall draw a line to Lebo-hamath, and the limit of the border shall be at Zedad. Then the border shall extend to Ziphron, and its limit shall be at Hazar-enan. This shall be your northern border.

    “You shall draw a line for your eastern border from Hazar-enan to Shepham. And the border shall go down from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain. And the border shall go down and reach to the shoulder of the Sea of Chinnereth on the east. And the border shall go down to the Jordan, and its limit shall be at the Salt Sea. This shall be your land as defined by its borders all around.”

    Moses commanded the people of Israel, saying, “This is the land that you shall inherit by lot, which the LORD has commanded to give to the nine tribes and to the half-tribe. For the tribe of the people of Reuben by fathers' houses and the tribe of the people of Gad by their fathers' houses have received their inheritance, and also the half-tribe of Manasseh. The two tribes and the half-tribe have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan east of Jericho, toward the sunrise.”

    The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “These are the names of the men who shall divide the land to you for inheritance: Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun. You shall take one chief from every tribe to divide the land for inheritance. These are the names of the men: Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh. Of the tribe of the people of Simeon, Shemuel the son of Ammihud. Of the tribe of Benjamin, Elidad the son of Chislon. Of the tribe of the people of Dan a chief, Bukki the son of Jogli. Of the people of Joseph: of the tribe of the people of Manasseh a chief, Hanniel the son of Ephod. And of the tribe of the people of Ephraim a chief, Kemuel the son of Shiphtan. Of the tribe of the people of Zebulun a chief, Elizaphan the son of Parnach. Of the tribe of the people of Issachar a chief, Paltiel the son of Azzan. And of the tribe of the people of Asher a chief, Ahihud the son of Shelomi. Of the tribe of the people of Naphtali a chief, Pedahel the son of Ammihud. These are the men whom the LORD commanded to divide the inheritance for the people of Israel in the land of Canaan.”

(Numbers 34 ESV)

Psalm 78:38-72

    Yet he, being compassionate,
        atoned for their iniquity
        and did not destroy them;
    he restrained his anger often
        and did not stir up all his wrath.
    He remembered that they were but flesh,
        a wind that passes and comes not again.
    How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
        and grieved him in the desert!
    They tested God again and again
        and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
    They did not remember his power
        or the day when he redeemed them from the foe,
    when he performed his signs in Egypt
        and his marvels in the fields of Zoan.
    He turned their rivers to blood,
        so that they could not drink of their streams.
    He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them,
        and frogs, which destroyed them.
    He gave their crops to the destroying locust
        and the fruit of their labor to the locust.
    He destroyed their vines with hail
        and their sycamores with frost.
    He gave over their cattle to the hail
        and their flocks to thunderbolts.
    He let loose on them his burning anger,
        wrath, indignation, and distress,
        a company of destroying angels.
    He made a path for his anger;
        he did not spare them from death,
        but gave their lives over to the plague.
    He struck down every firstborn in Egypt,
        the firstfruits of their strength in the tents of Ham.
    Then he led out his people like sheep
        and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
    He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid,
        but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
    And he brought them to his holy land,
        to the mountain which his right hand had won.
    He drove out nations before them;
        he apportioned them for a possession
        and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.
    Yet they tested and rebelled against the Most High God
        and did not keep his testimonies,
    but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers;
        they twisted like a deceitful bow.
    For they provoked him to anger with their high places;
        they moved him to jealousy with their idols.
    When God heard, he was full of wrath,
        and he utterly rejected Israel.
    He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh,
        the tent where he dwelt among mankind,
    and delivered his power to captivity,
        his glory to the hand of the foe.
    He gave his people over to the sword
        and vented his wrath on his heritage.
    Fire devoured their young men,
        and their young women had no marriage song.
    Their priests fell by the sword,
        and their widows made no lamentation.
    Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
        like a strong man shouting because of wine.
    And he put his adversaries to rout;
        he put them to everlasting shame.
    He rejected the tent of Joseph;
        he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim,
    but he chose the tribe of Judah,
        Mount Zion, which he loves.
    He built his sanctuary like the high heavens,
        like the earth, which he has founded forever.
    He chose David his servant
        and took him from the sheepfolds;
    from following the nursing ewes he brought him
        to shepherd Jacob his people,
        Israel his inheritance.
    With upright heart he shepherded them
        and guided them with his skillful hand.

(Psalm 78:38-72 ESV)

Something to Consider

Psalm 78: This Psalm recounts specific events from Israel’s past so that future generations of God’s people might learn from these lessons and avoid the temptations of unbelief and rebellion like the generations before them had experienced. The emphasis throughout this Psalm is the obligation of God's people to shape the next generation with the truths of God. Towards the beginning of the Psalm, the psalmist writes:

He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments. (Psalm 78:5-7)

These verses provide God's people with a perspective and a plan to produce a certain product among the next generation.

The Perspective

The psalmist mentions God has "established a testimony and appointed a law." In shaping the next generation, we need to consistently communicate the character of God and help our children contemplate the content of Scripture. We ought to recount stories within our homes of ways God has personally provided and worked powerfully in our own life and the life of our family. We must treasure the truth and value the voice of God while we help our children realize that what God has said in human history matters.

The Process 

The psalmist mentions how God has commanded us to "teach our children." As God's people, we must urgently take the character of God and the content of Scripture and integrate it into everything that makes up the life and routine of our families. The life of our family ought to be focused on magnifying who God is and honoring what God says. This kind of living and teaching will powerfully mark and influence the next generation.

The Product 

The psalmist mentions that we do these things "so that the next generation will set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments." Is there any greater goal in the life of a parent or overseer of children than that they would grow up and live as the psalmist describes here? We want our children to be independently dependent on God. We want them to have assurance and confidence that a relationship with God really works. If each generation would take the implications of this Psalm seriously and devote their lives to this manner of intentional living then we will find ourselves powerfully protecting multitudes of God's people from the devastations of unbelief and the temptations of rebellion.