Look Both Ways

A maskil  of Asaph. My people, hear my teaching;

    listen to the words of my mouth.

I will open my mouth with a parable;

    I will utter hidden things, things from of old—

things we have heard and known,

    things our ancestors have told us.

We will not hide them from their descendants;

    we will tell the next generation

the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,

    his power, and the wonders he has done.

He decreed statutes for Jacob

    and established the law in Israel,

which he commanded our ancestors

    to teach their children,

so the next generation would know them,

    even the children yet to be born,

    and they in turn would tell their children.

Then they would put their trust in God

    and would not forget his deeds

    but would keep his commands.

They would not be like their ancestors—

    a stubborn and rebellious generation,

whose hearts were not loyal to God,

    whose spirits were not faithful to him.

In spite of all this, they kept on sinning;

    in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.

So he ended their days in futility

    and their years in terror.

Whenever God slew them, they would seek him;

    they eagerly turned to him again.

They remembered that God was their Rock,

    that God Most High was their Redeemer.

But then they would flatter him with their mouths,

    lying to him with their tongues;

their hearts were not loyal to him,

    they were not faithful to his covenant.

Yet he was merciful;

    he forgave their iniquities

    and did not destroy them.

Time after time he restrained his anger

    and did not stir up his full wrath.

Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,

    as a warrior wakes from the stupor of wine.

He beat back his enemies;

    he put them to everlasting shame.

Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,

    he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;

but he chose the tribe of Judah,

    Mount Zion, which he loved.

He built his sanctuary like the heights,

    like the earth that he established forever.

He chose David his servant

    and took him from the sheep pens;

from tending the sheep he brought him

    to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,

    of Israel his inheritance.

And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;

    with skillful hands he led them.