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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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.