We set aside a day to remember – Memorial Day – because a precious gift was given – the life of a soldier, for us – and because we humans are so forgetful. 

Forgetfulness is a theme of Psalm 78, where Asaph recounts Israel’s forgetting God’s precious gift – His redemption of them out of Egypt. Asaph is honest about the family history. 

Israel forgot God’s redemption repeatedly, putting God to the test. So then, God responded in wrath – He “forsook them utterly” – this refers to when the Philistines captured the ark. God sometimes allows great losses for even greater victories. 

But the Psalm ends with honor, and hope. Asaph remembers that God raised up David, taking him from shepherding ewes to shepherd his people. 

A few observations, this Memorial Day:

  • It is good to remember our war dead – most of whom we’ve never known. The relative tranquility we enjoy was often paid for in blood. 
  • And yet their blood served an even greater purpose. Relative tranquility also grants us space to make the best use of the time, and to contemplate God. In a world where God is sovereign, we see multiple layers to the past sacrifices of our soldiers. They ensured our freedom, and yet God used their sacrifice to also contribute to an eternal freedom and prosperity, found only in God. 
  • But we are forgetful people. Psalm 78 and the rest of the Old Testament was written down for our instruction, that we might not desire evil, as Israel did (1 Cor. 10:6). And yet sometimes we still do. We forget. Then we become examples to ourselves. What then?
  • We too can be restored to the hope of the Psalm. But hope requires honesty, and honor. The first step is honesty, to what we forget. To be honest before God about when and how we are headstrong, self-directed, and self-willed. Honesty is not easy, at least about ourselves. Nor is it easy when it comes to the characteristic ways of forgetting that we learned from our parents or others we respect along the way. We want to honor them, but honesty comes first. When we remember in honesty, that remembrance opens new doors to us for grace. God redeems our forgetting. 
  • Because it gives us new ground upon which to honor the death of Christ, for us. The David of Psalm 78 would fail, and Israel would too. But God poured out all His wrath upon our David. And now we are shepherded by Him, in (v. 71-72)
    • Strength and gentleness
    • Familial ownership
    • Delight, as his inheritance,

and in leadership that is perfect in its

    • Morality and
    • Execution. 

Praise God: in Christ, we are defined by the strong, gracious love of the One Who shepherds us. Remember this, today, Christian.