From Psalms 106-107
Today we will look another long Psalm which retells Israel’s history. This one in particular gives a fairly sober picture of Israel and focuses on their disobedience and sin. It starts and ends however on a good note. Praising the LORD for his goodness and steadfast love.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
106 Praise the LORD!
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD,
or declare all his praise?
3 Blessed are they who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times! (Ps 106.1-3)
The Psalmist looks back to the mighty deeds of the LORD. No doubt again this is their deliverance from Egypt. He associates this moment of their salvation with the LORD’s covenant love.
Interestingly he seems to believe there are people who observe justice and do righteousness at all times. ‘The commendation formula used in v 3 describes a state to be emulated. Here it functions not simply as an exhortation but also as an answer to the question of v 2. Right living is the prerequisite for deliverance. The logic is that expressed in the divine message of Isa 56:1: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come.…”’ (Allen, L. C. (2002). Psalms 101–150 (Revised) (Vol. 21, p. 70). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.)
The Psalmist turns to himself.
4 Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people;
help me when you save them,
5 that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones,
that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
that I may glory with your inheritance. (Ps 106.4-5)
The Psalmist has recalled the saving events of Israel’s past and hopes to enjoy a similar situation in his time. He believes the LORD will again show favour to his people and save them. He wants to see this happen.
The Psalm will now take a turn for the worse as he recalls Israel’s sin and disobedience while the LORD was rescuing them from Egypt and bringing them into the promised land.
6 Both we and our fathers have sinned;
we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.
7 Our fathers, when they were in Egypt,
did not consider your wondrous works;
they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love,
but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.
8 Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
that he might make known his mighty power.
9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry,
and he led them through the deep as through a desert.
10 So he saved them from the hand of the foe
and redeemed them from the power of the enemy.
11 And the waters covered their adversaries;
not one of them was left.
12 Then they believed his words;
they sang his praise.
13 But they soon forgot his works;
they did not wait for his counsel.
14 But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness,
and put God to the test in the desert;
15 he gave them what they asked,
but sent a wasting disease among them.
16 When men in the camp were jealous of Moses
and Aaron, the holy one of the LORD,
17 the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan,
and covered the company of Abiram.
18 Fire also broke out in their company;
the flame burned up the wicked.
19 They made a calf in Horeb
and worshiped a metal image.
20 They exchanged the glory of God
for the image of an ox that eats grass.
21 They forgot God, their Savior,
who had done great things in Egypt,
22 wondrous works in the land of Ham,
and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
23 Therefore he said he would destroy them—
had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him,
to turn away his wrath from destroying them.
24 Then they despised the pleasant land,
having no faith in his promise.
25 They murmured in their tents,
and did not obey the voice of the LORD.
26 Therefore he raised his hand and swore to them
that he would make them fall in the wilderness,
27 and would make their offspring fall among the nations,
scattering them among the lands.
28 Then they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor,
and ate sacrifices offered to the dead;
29 they provoked the LORD to anger with their deeds,
and a plague broke out among them.
30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened,
and the plague was stayed.
31 And that was counted to him as righteousness
from generation to generation forever.
32 They angered him at the waters of Meribah,
and it went ill with Moses on their account,
33 for they made his spirit bitter,
and he spoke rashly with his lips.
34 They did not destroy the peoples,
as the LORD commanded them,
35 but they mixed with the nations
and learned to do as they did.
36 They served their idols,
which became a snare to them.
37 They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to the demons;
38 they poured out innocent blood,
the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
and the land was polluted with blood.
39 Thus they became unclean by their acts,
and played the whore in their deeds.
40 Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people,
and he abhorred his heritage;
41 he gave them into the hand of the nations,
so that those who hated them ruled over them.
42 Their enemies oppressed them,
and they were brought into subjection under their power.
43 Many times he delivered them,
but they were rebellious in their purposes
and were brought low through their iniquity.
44 Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress,
when he heard their cry.
45 For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
46 He caused them to be pitied
by all those who held them captive. (Ps 106.6-45)
The sad history of Israel is one of sin and disobedience. The LORD remains faithful to his covenant, his promises and to Abraham. But the people did not follow the LORD, rather they abandoned him. They have been scattered and put into exile. They are captives of foreign nations the LORD has used to punish them.
The Psalmist cries out;
47 Save us, O LORD our God,
and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise.
48 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the LORD! (Ps 106.47-48)
And ends with praise, because he is confident the LORD will continue to be faithful to the covenant and his people.
Story of Israel
If we know our history they we know the LORD did eventually respond. He brought his people back into the promised land. But they still remained captive. They considered themselves slaves to the foreign powers over them. They were also bound in slavery to sin. They still needed to be freed.
Story of Jesus
In Romans there is a passage that has generated a number of different interpretations. Its Romans 7.7-25. Michael Bird (p142, A Bird’s-eye View of Paul: The Man, His Mission and His Message) and N.T. Wright (p563, The New Interpreter’s Bible : Acts – First Corinthians (Volume 10)) have explained Paul is not speaking about himself. Rather just like the Psalm above, Paul is speaking from the viewpoint of Israel still caught in the grip of sin.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 (Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!) So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Rom 7.21-25)
This is the situation of Israel. Still caught in sin. Just like a C1 Sinner in the diagram below. Under the law of sin. Still Paul cannot restrain himself. He knows the salvation that comes from Christ.
The situation of the believer (C3) has dramatically changed. They have been freed from this captivity to sin.
8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom 8.1-4)
The Psalm records the plight of Israel, still caught in her sin. Hence the Psalmist cries out ‘Save us, O LORD our God’ (Ps 106.47). God sent his own Son, to come in human form to die for our sin. In doing so he broke the hold sin has over us and enabled us to fulfill the law by walking in the Spirit. Praise God.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.