Psalm 106

Psalms 106 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson

Psalm 106 is the last and longest psalm in Book Four.  Robert Godfrey divides the Psalm into three sections.

1-12     Begins with praise and prayer. Focuses on Israel at the edge of the Red Sea

13-33   Six episodes of the people’s sin in the wilderness.

34-48   Continuing sinfulness and idolatry from entering the promised land to exile.

Derek Kidner titles this psalm, “Not one lesson was learnt”  (British spelling).  Sadly, this is the story of the people coming out of Egypt and the story of humanity.  This is a psalm of the tragedy of self will.  Psalm 106 is also a testament of God’s longsuffering with the sin of His people, and we may say the same about our rebellious deeds toward God.

This psalm begins on a high note. The first verse, full of joy and praise is followed by the second verse which asks a rhetorical question, “ Who can . . . declare all his praise?”  You could spend an entire lifetime praising God and never exhaust all the reasons to praise Him.  I also like verse 4, where the Psalmist asks, “Remember me, O Lord”  Why would God remember me out of 10 million people in Michigan or 333 million in the U.S.   How could God remember me when there are almost 8 billion people in the world?  Aren’t there more important people (most certainly) or more talented people (without a doubt) or people more worthy of God’s love (many, many more).  Doesn’t God ever forget people?  How can He remember us among all the people He knows?

The theme of remembering is found in v. 7 where the people did not remember the abundance of God’s steadfast love.  In verse 13, the people forgot God’s works.  In v. 21, they “forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt.”  Then in vs. 45-46, despite their sin, “He remembered his covenant and relented  . . . (and) caused them to be pitied by all those who held them captive.”  Even though we do not remember, even though we forget, God never forgets us or any of His children.  He never forgets those He cut a covenant with.

In fact, in all their sin, we find a Godward theme.  In v. 8, “He saved them for His name’s sake” or v. 10, “He saved them.”   We also find God’s hand in judging them in v. 15, “He gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them.”  Even in an abundance of  material blessings, we can experience God’s judgment.   We do not always want God to give us what we think we need or want.

In the second section, the first verse, v. 13, could begin each episode, “But they soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel.”  They demanded meat when they had manna (vs. 14-15); they envied the leadership of Moses and Aaron (vs. 16-18); they worshipped a golden calf (v. 19-23); they refused to enter the promised land (vs. 24-27); they worshipped Baal (vs. 28-31); they provoked Moses to sinful anger (v. 32-33) [Godfrey, p. 190].

If Kidner is right, the people of Israel never learnt that they needed a mediator.  Mediators such as Moses (v. 23) and Phineas (v. 31) were used by God to stop more deaths from the judgment of God.  God raises up mediators.  Mediators do not surprise God or just appear.  God uses the means of various mediators, but none holds a candle to the One Mediator, our Lord Jesus.  Look at following verses:

1Tim. 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

Heb. 9:15   Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

Heb. 12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

In vs. 34-48, the downward spiral continues because they never learnt.  Reading these summary statements is rather painful.  There are two reasons for the pain.  One, is how little they learned from their past mistakes.  Two, I am a lot like them.  I am slow to learn, and I insist on sinning even though I know sin makes me smaller and always leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and hurts others as much as it hurts me.

Yet, the compassion of God is stunning.  In vs. 37-8, “they sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood” prompts God’s anger but also His compassion.  In vs. 40-41, “Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against His people, and he abhorred his heritage; he gave them into the hands of the nations.”  Yet, “He looked upon their distress . . . he remembered his covenant . . . He caused them to be pitied by all those who held them captive.”  He judges them and in the judgment that they deserves, He is filled with compassion toward them.  This is like David in II Sam 24 after he counted the people in a national census, Gad rebuked him and told David that he would be judged.  David had three choices of judgment and David had to choose: 3 years of famine, flee three months before your enemies, or 3 days of pestilence?  David chose the last option because David choose to fall into the hand of God rather than the hand of man.  Did David know God?  God “relented from the calamity and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.”  Almost takes your breath away.

Dear Father, we will never grasp the tiniest part of Your compassion in this life.  You judge and chastise us for our rebellion which we justly deserve.  Yet, while we endure the correction we deserve, You look at us with love.  You gave Your only Son, the Son of Your love, to suffer terribly in our place.  He suffered humiliation, rejection, and violence at the hands of wicked people.  Yet, we still do not value Your glory as we ought.  Will you forgive me?  I plead the blood of Christ over my sin and ask that You would forgive me, restore me, and use me.  I ask this in the only name that can save any human being: Jesus Christ.  Amen