Daily Family Worship

Psalm 106: A National Confession

by | Jun 14, 2024

psalm 106

This Psalm begins and ends with Hallelujah – “Praise ye the Lord!” The space between these two descriptions of praise is filled up with the mournful details of Israel’s sin and the extraordinary patience of God; and truly, we do well to bless the Lord at both the beginning and end of our meditations when sin and grace are the themes! This sacred song is occupied with the historical part of the Old Testament, and is one of many Psalms which are thus composed; surely this should be a sufficient rebuke to those who speak slightingly of the historical Scriptures. It is not fitting for a child of God to think lightly of that which the Holy Spirit so frequently uses for our instruction. What other Scriptures did David have, except those very same histories which are so depreciated nowadays – and yet he esteemed them beyond his necessary food, and made them his songs during his earthly pilgrimage!

The history of God’s dealings in the past is a record of continuous mercies, while the history of man’s activities is a narrative of continuous sin. The memory of the former quickened the Psalmist into his sunny song of thankfulness in the previous Psalm, and the consciousness of the latter moved him to the confessions which are found in this one. They are complements of each other. They are not only connected by the retrospective nature of them both, but also by the identity of their beginnings and the difference of their points of view. The keynote of Psalm 105 is “Remember his mighty deeds,” while that of Psalm 106 is “They forgot his mighty deeds.”

The psalmist preludes his confession and contemplation of his people’s sins by a glad remembrance of God’s goodness and lovingkindness, and by a prayer for himself. Surely the thought of the Lord’s unspeakable goodness most appropriately precedes the sorrowful confession, for nothing so melts a heart in repentance as the remembrance of His love. The abrupt prayer in verses 4 and 5 stands in the closest relationship to the theme of the Psalm, which draws out the dark record of national sin in order to lead to national repentance.

Beginning in verse 7, the Psalmist plunges into his theme and draws out the long, sad story of Israel’s faithlessness. He recounts seven instances during the wilderness sojourn, including the murmurings of the faint-hearted fugitives by the Red Sea (verses 7-12), their lusting for food (verses 13-15), the revolt headed by Korah and his friends against the chosen Aaronic priesthood (verses 16-18), the worship of the golden calf (verses 19-23), the people’s obstinate refusal to go into the Promised Land after the report of the ten wicked spies (verses 24-27), their participation in the abominable Moabitish worship of Baal-Peor (verses 28-31), and their rebellion at the waters of Meribah (verses 32-33). After finishing this melancholy catalog of sins in the wilderness, the Psalmist next turns to two flagrant sins that were done after the nation of Israel entered the Promised Land: their disobedience to the Lord’s command to exterminate the inhabitants of Canaan, and their adoption of the bloody worship that those people were guilty of.

In verses 40-46, the whole history of Israel is summed up as alternating periods of sin, punishment, and deliverance – recurring in constantly repeated cycles, in which the mystery of human obstinacy is set over against that of Div-ine patience. We hardly know whether we should wonder most at the incurable levity which learned nothing from experience, or the inexhaustible longsuffering which did not grow weary in giving wasted gifts. The end of Israel’s disobedience was that “they were brought low through their iniquity.” Sin weakens the true strength of men, and darkens their true glory.

But in verses 44-46, the singer rises from these sad thoughts to refresh his mind with the contemplation of God’s patient lovingkindness. The multitude of its manifestations far outnumbers that of our sins. His Covenant may be for-gotten by men, but it is still remembered by Him. Christ’s amazing grace – greater than all our sins – secures forgiveness after our repeated transgressions!

We praise You, O Lord Jesus, for Your amazing love and mercy, and for Your gracious lovingkindness which lasts to all eternity! Amen.

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