Psalm 106

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 9, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

If you look at today’s contemporary worship songs, how many of them feature long, detailed descriptions of what we’ve done wrong as God’s people? I really can’t think of many. Why is that? We always prefer our focus to be on good things, whether the good things that God has done, the good things we can accomplish as His people, God’s love, etc. But Psalm 106 is different than that. It is considered to be a hymn of the ancient church, but it doesn’t just talk about good things; in fact, there’s a large section of this psalm that discusses Israel’s unbelief and disobedience toward God!

But before we get to that, this psalm starts off with praise of God in verse 1: “Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Even though we will see how Israel was rebellious, it’s important to focus first and foremost on the goodness of God, thanking and praising Him for His love. The wording of verse 2 indicates that no one can ever fully declare God’s praises or share all of His mighty acts.

Verses 3-5 move on to a prayer for God to bless, save, and restore His people. The psalmist wants to make sure that He is included in the blessings that God has promised to give His people - the prosperity, the joy, and the inheritance.

Verses 6-7 show the contract between God and His people. Where this psalm started out praising God for His goodness, now it tells of the people’s wickedness. The current people of Israel have sinned, and so have their ancestors. They are wicked people who do not deserve God’s blessings. But, verse 8 gives the good news: “Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known.” God clearly didn’t save Israel because they were good but because He is good, and this mighty work of grace would make His name known.

Verses 9-12 go on to tell of God’s deliverance of the people of Israel from Egypt, which was a founding time for them as a nation. All that God did for them was because God chose them as His people, not because of any merit they had.

Then we get into the big section of Israel’s unbelief and disobedience, in verses 13-43. Go read it for all the details, but verse 13 sums it up pretty well: “But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.” Israel was impatient, they were jealous, they practiced idolatry, they didn’t believe God, they rebelled against Him, and they adopted pagan cultures, just to name a few. What wonderful things to sing about, right?

Finally, in verses 44-46, we hear more about God’s love for His wicked people. God heard His people crying out to Him in distress when they suffered the consequences of their disobedience to Him. He still loved them and caused their captors to show them mercy. In spite of all their disobedience, God continued to love them. Once they repented and called out to Him, He showed them His grace and favor.

In verse 47, the psalmist echoes the prayer of verses 4-5, praying for God’s salvation. It’s interesting to note that the psalmist has shifted from the singular (“I”) to the plural (“we”). He has embraced his place in the community. It is not only he who has sinned but all of Israel, so it’s not only the psalmist who has to ask for God’s grace but the entire nation does. Finally, the psalm ends in verse 48 the same way it started: with praise to God.

What would our worship services be like if we sang songs like this one - praising God but also confessing all that we have done wrong as His people? What about in our personal worship - are we modeling this idea and telling God how we have messed up, then asking for Him to save us? It’s not easy to admit our sins, especially not publicly, but I encourage you to follow the model of this psalm in your prayer life. While praising God is great and we should do so, our praise has no meaning if we don’t recognize all the ways that we’ve messed up and yet God has loved us anyway. Praise Him today for His continual grace in your life when we truly don’t deserve it.

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