Observe This “remembrance” Psalm recounts the story of Israel from Moses and the entry into the Promised Land, focusing on Israel's past failures, forgetfulness and ingratitude, the need for repentance and His forgiveness.
The Psalm begins with a call to praise (1), followed by a beatitude: Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right (3). Verses 6-46 recall Israel’s failures and God’s forgiveness – effectively a prayer of confession. Israel’s rebelliousness is presented in 9 episodes, from the Exodus to Judges: their disobedience, their idolatries, their stubbornness, with the consequence of the Exile (24 and 27).
Finally comes a prayer for salvation (47), and a closing word of praise echoes verse 1 (48).
Interpret Psalm 106 spotlights Israel’s chronic disobedience and rebellion, in contrast to God’s unending mercy and forgiveness, His covenant loyalty to His “chosen”.
The psalm is anonymous, though some scholars think the same person wrote Psalm 105 (focused on God’s powerful miracles and victory) and 106, each presenting different aspects of the story of Israel. Like Psalms 78, 105, 135, and 136, Psalm 106 is a historical Psalm. The last verse, 48, signals the end of Book 4 of Psalms which emphasized Moses’ calling in Israel's story.
Apply We don’t like to think about sin, especially our own, but Psalm 106 holds a mirror up to us if we dare to look.
There’s a telling quote from Charles Spurgeon: “Too many think lightly of sin, and therefore think lightly of the Saviour.” If we think about this quote and reread the Psalm, noting how little the Israelites thought of Yahweh while manufacturing idols and complaining about God’s menu choices. Even Moses had a great fall when he struck the rock twice, not trusting Yahweh to provide.
And maybe that’s our problem. Do we think too lightly of Jesus’ sacrifice, our relationship with Him Who gave up everything so we could ‘always do what is right’, out of love for Him? Yielding our lives to Him so we stay on His narrow but excellent road just might transform us into those ‘who always do what is right’.
We can’t be constantly flailing ourselves, but we need to look both within and up, to compare what outside pressures are telling us with what God is asking of us and constantly giving us – mercy, forgiveness, love, grace. The exchange is pretty unbalanced in His favour, but we can only be thankful for that. As Tim Keller points out, ”Despite (no, because of) God’s wonderful patience and mercy, we are always obligated to do right.”
Ask Lord, would you help me to get back onto Your narrow way, to keep my mind and heart on You? Will You send Your Spirit so I always do what is right?
Pray Lord, thank You for shielding me from the many consequences of my foolish behaviour and carelessness in following You. Let Your grace so transform, that I will always choose to do what is right.
Sing Psalm 106 Poor Bishop Hooper
Kiran Young Wimberly and the McGraths - Banks of the Nile
The Corner Room - Psalm 106:1
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.