At first glance of Psalm 106, t I wasn’t sure to be honest, I wanted to dive down into Israel’s sin for 48 verses. It’s largely a lament, a confession, a recounting of Israel’s rebellion. But it is in the way the Psalmist trusts Gods faithfulness in the wake of all that rebellion, where the hope of this Psalm most abundantly springs to life. And it’s a jam-packed Psalm full of so many nuggets to keep coming back too in the days to come.
Psalm 106 sits alongside Psalm 105, complementing each other as they both recount Israel’s history. Both Psalms begin and end with “Praise the Lord”. Psalm 105 looking through the lens of Gods faithfulness to his covenant, and as we will see, Psalm 106 seeing the events through Israel’s rebellion. The Psalm begins with writer bringing praise to God, recognising Gods enduring love and faithfulness. He does this in a humble position in vs 2 & 3:
Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare praise?
Blessed are they who maintain justice and constantly do what is right.
These two verses are so profound. They sum up two crucial ways we are to be followers of Jesus and honour God with our lives. Firstly, they point us to strive always to bring God praise; and secondly to live a holy life and to make the world a more just place. They should inspire us.
At the same time, they show a standard we just can’t keep. As much as I can praise God with my lips and my life, as much as I can strive for justice in the way I live, how I spend my money, what goes onto my Facebook page, I can’t be perfect in those things – no one can. Like Paul says in Romans 3, and the author says in verse 6. We have sinned. We can’t live up to the perfection prescribed. So the writer moves his focus to the Lord – beseeching him for what only he can do.
“Remember me O Lord, O Lord, when you show favour to your people, come to my aid when you save them, that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may share in the joy of your nation and join your inheritance in giving you praise” (vs 4 &5)
It’s a prayer of recognition of where the writer stands before God. He cannot make the cut on his own. It’s a prayer of desperation for help, recognition of his own unworthiness. So what does the Psalmist do, he puts his trust in Gods promises, that he can take part in each of these promises given to God’s chosen people.
In my research for this Psalm I have been trying to find out who wrote it, but it’s not super clear. My study bible tells me that it was most likely written by a Levite living in, at a time when exiles to Babylon were returning to the their lands. What gets fascinating is that in vs 6 – 7, the authors language moves from the we (“we have sinned”) to they (“they gave no thought to your miracles”). As he now starts recounting Israel’s rebellion all the way, he aligns himself with the same sin, the same rebellion he and his generation were presently going through. I think then, that this is an appropriate way for us to read this Psalm, to see the things that Israel did, and to recognise that we do they same things. We as a nation of Australia, we as an FAC community and we at Figtree, in our different context.
Here is a scattering of the words statements that I found so relatable to my own walk.
- They did not remember your many kindnesses (v7)
- But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold. (v13)
- They gave in to their craving; they grew envious (v14)
- They exchanged their glorious God for an image (v20)
- They forgot the God who saved them, they did not believe his promise. (v21)
- They grumbled (v25)
- They yoked themselves (v28)
- They worshiped their idols (v36)
- But they were bent on rebellion (v43)
Pausing on each statement my mind cascades to a million places and seasons and times. Reading through each statement evokes so much of my own life – my own rebellion. And I have no doubt that’s the intent for his readers in their own situation. These statements of the sinful outworking’s of the human heart are a reminder of how prone we all are – wherever in history we find our selves.
But – throughout the Psalm, these statements are contrasted by the outworking’s of Gods heart in response to that sin. Throughout this recounting of events, there are a number of instances when God warned his people, and didn’t hold them back from their own sinful desires. As vs 15 says “he gave them what they asked for”.
But in spite all of that, God remained completely faithful, Gods grace over them and in their situation never ceased. As you read through these statements, on the ways we have seen God at work in the same way recently and in the different seasons of our own lives.
- Yet he saved them for his name’s sake (v8)
- He led them through the depths as through a desert. (v9)
- He saved them from the hand of the foe (v10)
- Many times he delivered them (v43)
- Yet he took note of their distress when he heard their cry (v44)
- For their sake he remembered his covenant and out of his great love he relented. (v45)
- He caused all who held them captive to show them mercy. (v46)
Having pondered all that rebellion, and all of Gods faithfulness throughout – the authors response in the final 2 verses is to ask all his readers to join him in beseeching God in prayer. He asks that God would gather back his people from exile and that they could give their thanksgiving and “glory in your praise” v47. The Psalmist is dreaming of a future when all his people are gathered together, the whole nation of Gods scattered people are boasting and congratulating and worshiping God for what he has done.
As you pray today – take a couple of minutes to dream too of that future when all Gods people are gathered together as one, giving thanks and worshiping him, and giving him getting all the glory. What would that look like? And how does that affect the way we go through our day today?