Daily D – Psalm 78:52-53
He led his people out like sheep and guided them like a flock in the wilderness. He led them safely, and they were not afraid; but the sea covered their enemies.
PSALM 78:52-53 (CSB)
Asaph was a member of David’s royal court. Twelve of the songs in the book of Psalms are attributed to him. This one provides lessons from Israel’s history. “Those who do not remember their past,” George Santayana so astutely declared, “are condemned to repeat their mistakes.”
Asaph helps us remember how God has acted in the past on behalf of his people. He reminds us of God’s power and provision. He declares God’s patience, kindness, and compassion. He also notes God’s hand of correction.
He describes how God led Israel through the wilderness from Egypt into the Promised Land in verses 52 and 53. “He led his people out like sheep and guided them like a flock in the wilderness.” How could we not call to mind David’s Shepherd Psalm: “The LORD is my shepherd; I have what I need,” (23:1)?
“He led them safely, and they were not afraid; but the sea covered their enemies.” Psalm 23 states in full alignment,
he leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life;
he leads me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—they comfort me.
Asaph tells us that God “led his people out like sheep and guided them like a flock in the wilderness.” He led at the pace of the people. He guided them all along their journey. He protected and defended his people and provided for them.
Do not miss these leadership lessons. David did not. We have his personal insights in Psalm 23, part of which are noted above. This is David’s testimony. Then in the last three verses of Psalm 78, Asaph tells us his observations of David’s life and leadership:
and took him from the sheep pens;
he brought him from tending ewes
to be shepherd over his people Jacob—
over Israel, his inheritance.
He shepherded them with a pure heart
and guided them with his skillful hands.
King David led the people of Israel like God led Israel out of Egypt. “He shepherded them with a pure heart and guided them with skillful hands.”
The best leaders lead like God and like King David.
Questions deserving answers include these:
* How pure is my heart?
* How skillfully do I lead myself and guide others?
Let us learn the lessons of the past (and today’s newspaper) about leading with something less than pure hearts.
Let us learn the lessons of the necessity of improving our skills in the service of others.
I will cultivate a pure heart and skillful hands.
Our Father, cleanse my heart from all impurity. Enhance my abilities to lead myself and others with increasing expertise. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”