A single phrase changed my view of a whole passage. I had understood Psalm 78 as a history lesson of failure. Take-
The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; they … refused to live by his law. They forgot … the wonders he had shown them. (Psalm 78:9-11)
This psalm is full of such examples that seem to tell us not to be hard-hearted like the people of Israel, until I noticed,
I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old… (Psalm 78:2)
This is a parable pointing to hidden things-
We … will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. (Psalm 78:4)
The writer is not beating up Israel over their failure saying, “Never do that again!” He is encouraging the people to remember and tell of the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord to the next generation.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. (Psalm 78:7)
We are told to remember our history lest we repeat it. The writer teaches us to tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of God so that they can learn to trust him for themselves. What have we seen him do? Why do we trust him? Who will we tell?
In my life, these are lessons of weakness and failure where I have seen God come through to save. Historical failure invokes fear, praiseworthy deeds inspire hope.