The Original Quitters

They forgot what He had done, the wonderful works He had shown them.—Psalm 78:11

The psalm before us today begins by commanding us to listen: “My people, hear my instruction; listen to what I say” (Ps 78:1). You have only to read a few verses of this psalm to see that the psalmist, Asaph, is recalling the disobedience that characterized the Jews during their forty years’ wandering in the wilderness. Then a strange verse appears: “The Ephraimite archers turned back on the day of battle” (v. 9).

These Ephraimites were equipped with all they needed for warfare, but on the day of battle—that is, the first day of the fray—they “turned back.” Although well armed, in the moment of testing they were overcome by fear. Doubtless they paraded well and looked fine as they marched out to battle, but when they came face to face with the enemy, the only weapon they used was a cloud of dust as they retreated en masse—and in a hurry.

A preacher I once heard referred to the Ephraimites in this verse as “the original quitters.” What an indictment. The Ephraimites live on, you know; they are to be found in the rank and file of many a modern-day congregation. They look fine in church on Sunday mornings with a hymn book and a Bible in their hands, but let the hot rays of temptation beat upon them—and they run. They surrender to temptation because they have never learned how to surrender to God. When we surrender to God, then we need not surrender to anything else.


Lord Jesus, help me clarify to myself whether I am surrendered or not. For I see that if I do not fall at Your feet, then I fall at the feet of things and circumstances. Show me at whose feet I am lying. For Your own name’s sake. Amen.

Further Study

Dn 1:1-21; Rm 6:13; Eph 6:13

How did Daniel resist the temptation to compromise?

What are the results of resisting temptation?

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