Saturday, Oct 16th

Last update:02:29:00 PM GMT

Psalm 106

E-mail Print PDF

This may, or may not, be written by David, but it bears all his hallmarks – honest admission of guilt and sin, expressing woes for one’s lack of holiness, but always ending with praise for the Lord! What we might call a ‘Davidism’! There are differing views as to the date of this Psalm, but no-one can truly fix it in time. This does not really matter – what matters is that we call on God to renew and keep us, no matter what our circumstances or even our moods are like.

Verses 1-3

  1. Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

  2. Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD? who can shew forth all his praise?

  3. Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times.

Once again the marvellous encouragement to “Praise ye the Lord”. When we praise God, halal (no, nothing to do with Islamic meat), we light up His word and Person in our hearts. This is right, because God shines anyway. There are interesting other possible meanings for this word, though they do not apply in this text. The One to be praised is Yah. This is a contraction or shortening of Jehovah, known as the one true God (therefore, all others are false). This contracted form for Jehovah is also found in other places, such as at the end of Hallelu-YAH (‘you – praise the Lord’). The contracted form is first used in Exodus 15:2, “The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation”. (Note: Hebrew sources advise that when Hallelujah is sung or said in Christian churches, it does NOT mean ‘praise the Lord’ in an individual response).

On occasions I receive letters or emails using G-d or similar written use of Hebrew words referring to God. They think it is fearful to speak the word ‘God’, ‘Yahweh’, etc. It should be understood that God gave us His names to use, not to hide. The change to being fearful took place during the Second Temple period, so was invented by later Israelites, who then used the name Adonai instead. If a reader is unfamiliar with such Hebraic complexities, I do not recommend they follow it up.

So – praise the Lord! Give thanks to Him. The first reference to ‘Lord’ is Yah, but the second ‘Lord’ in this verse is the full rendition of Jehovah (‘the existing one’ from the root, hayah, meaning to exist or be extant: to exist without beginning or end). Christians often use titles for the Lord they think are His proper names, but some are simply expressions of His qualities rather than His Name. In English and being non-Jews we use the name with its vowel pointings, and do not resort to shortening it to YHWH, which cannot be pronounced.

We should praise Him “for He is good”. This encompasses many qualities of God – He is towb; agreeable, pleasant, excellent, valuable, better, happy, benign. Or, to put it another way, we must praise Him for being Who He is! He is good because His mercy is everlasting… checed, full of lovingkindness; He is faithful and kind, and will show it in abundance to those who love Him.

Verse 2 asks who can possibly relate everything good coming from God, when there are endless acts of God’s goodness? We can only utter what we know and as far as we are able, for He is literally ‘too much’ to speak of! This is possibly why the ancients began to fear using His Name. They feared Him (as should we all) but they then feared even talking to, or about, Him as He prescribed. We should not follow this decision, but should use any names He Himself gave us in His word.

Those who follow the Lord in all things and “doeth righteousness” continually will “keep judgment”. We must acquire and maintain righteousness, tsedaqah… justice, doing what is right when governing, and when judging in courts of law and ruling. We must speak only the truth and do what is always right. In other words (when applying this to our modern lives) we are righteous because we are saved by grace. Our morals and ethics must be higher than anyone else’s, because God’s character is even higher than ours. Yet, we must copy and do the same.

Verses 4-11

  1. Remember me, O LORD, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation;

  2. That I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.

  3. We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.

  4. Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea.

  5. Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.

  6. He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.

  7. And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.

  8. And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left.

“Remember me, O Lord (Jehovah)”. What does that mean? God cannot ‘forget’ (He simply chooses not to take action)! It means that the Psalmist is asking God to bring him to mind. This is an human thought, for God always has His people in mind. But, it is the kind of thing we say when we want reassurance. Read the full statement and you will see that the writer wants God to consider him when he is under threat or attack… “visit me with thy salvation”. Of interest, is that ‘salvation’ is yeshuw’ah. It means to deliver from dangers, to give victory and prosperity. In this case, it is sought for the entire nation.

The Psalmist does not just pray, he wants to SEE evidences of God’s promises coming to the fore. In our modern lives we often pray, but without seeking evidences that God is actually helping us. This makes the prayers a kind of half-way request, where we do not really expect any answers. The Psalmist says he and the nation want to SEE the good promised by God, so he can be filled with joy. Then, he can “glory with thine inheritance”. We cannot really be joyful by being told we have a mighty inheritance, if we do not actually receive it! We cannot rejoice in being the Lord’s children, if all the benefits are locked behind a high wall, unavailable.

He acknowledges that the people sin, just as their forefathers sinned. The ancients did not fully understand the plagues in Egypt, nor the countless benefits given to them in the desert. They angered God when on the shore of the Red Sea. Even so, God went on to save them utterly, because of His promises made to the earlier patriarchs, and because He wants the whole world to see and fear his mighty power.

God rebuked the Red Sea so that it dried up, making a pathway for the fleeing Hebrews. That is, He ga’ar – restrained the Sea and later took them under His wing through the deserts though they frequently complained. Despite their sinfulness, God saved them from their enemies, the Egyptian army wanting to kill them. As they chased the Hebrews through the towering waters, God brought them crashing down to drown them… “not one of them (was) left”! Today, we have many enemies. In the face of enemies we can do one of two things – hide away and be ‘secret’ or face the enemy with God as our protection. Which do YOU do? One brings misery, the other brings assurance and help.

Verses 12-23

  1. Then believed they his words; they sang his praise.

  2. They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel:

  3. But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.

  4. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.

  5. They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the LORD.

  6. The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram.

  7. And a fire was kindled in their company; the flame burned up the wicked.

  8. They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image.

  9. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.

  10. They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt;

  11. Wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea.

  12. Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.

“Then they believed… his words”! They sang His praises… but only after He wrought amazing miracles to save them. We are all like this – we claim to believe and yet cannot quite muster total belief when faced with dangers or enemies! We might throw up some prayers in desperation, but these are not genuine, nor are they fruitful. What we see is that God understands our useless prayers and fear, and helps us anyway. He helps not because of our frantic prayers, but because it has always been His intention to assist and deliver. It is His actions, not ours, that save. Today, we give money to the red poppy appeal for brave soldiers, but demand a replica poppy in return, instead of simply giving. Similarly, Christians expect something from God when, all along, HE expects something from US – obedience!

Because they were superficial in their faith, the Hebrews soon forgot the stupendous miracles and again resorted to their own futile decisions and ideas. This is the main way we think as believers! We wait a short while to see what God wishes to do, and then, impatiently, we do what WE think should be done, thus circumventing God’s own path and will. In this way we cause our own suffering and lack of faith. The ancients were no different. They could not wait for God to show them His hand… and that is why their sufferings lasted forty years. Their own actions took them into forty years of journey, a journey that should have taken just a few months. Look at your own lives today – do you suffer or not have answers because you took matters into your own hands and could not wait patiently for God to reveal His will?

Some Christians think that a wealthy life and no problems indicate just how much God must love them. Not so. Very often God will allow us to think this way because we are far from Him. Our wealth determines what we do, not God. As verse 15 woefully warns us: “he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul”. Never think you have God’s blessing just because He has allowed you to gain money or goods or what you want. The reverse has happened – He allows you to enjoy your gains on this earth, but you will suffer reduced or missed blessings from God. It is all a delusion, for your money and self-will will take you nowhere in terms of godliness. You will live by a “leanness of soul” that will be apparent to faithful believers, but not to you. (I can assure those with relative wealth that if your life had no such things to give material support, your thinking would be very different).

The people began to envy Moses and his brother, Aaron. Both were men of God who were far greater than most of the Hebrews. This jealousy led to attempted coups and hatred as some vied for supremacy. For this, Dathan and his followers were swallowed up. Dathan (‘belonging to a fountain’) was a chief of the tribe of Reuben. He and his brother, Abiram, agreed to the conspiracy devised by Korah, to take over from Moses and Aaron. And so they died.

Verses 24-29

  1. Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word:

  2. But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.

  3. Therefore he lifted up his hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness:

  4. To overthrow their seed also among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands.

  5. They joined themselves also unto Baalpeor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead.

  6. Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them.

Korah gathered many of the Hebrews around him and against Moses, daring to stand before the Tabernacle as a rebel. God told Moses and Aaron to stand away from the crowd, so He could consume them. The two leaders fell down and pleaded with God not to do so. After a commotion Moses told Dathan and his followers that God had commended him to do His work – it was not his own idea. The proof would come by God opening up the earth to swallow the defiant ones. In other words, he uttered prayers that God would destroy them.

Do we do this today? I know that some think I do what I do because I wish to. I can only say my whole Christian life has been devoted to do what God wishes. I have left behind thoughts of gain and status, because I fear the Lord; this is not a boast, but a simple telling of the facts. Is this how YOU live? For Dathan the consequences of wanting leadership and status brought a heavy price, as God caused the earth to swallow up him and his entire family and followers.

Anyone can make a mistake, but what the people did went far beyond simple mistakes. They actively sought out the god Baal-peor (‘lord of the gap’). This was the pagan god worshipped by the people of Peor (Moabites) and seems to have provided the excuse for sexual licentiousness when the golden calf was made. The king of the Moabites, Balaak, hired Balaam the prophet to curse Israel.

Sexual sin is always a popular one, and no less popular amongst the Moabites and the people who lived in Peor. Some Israelites decided to copy them, and so God put 24,000 of them to death by a plague. Peor was a mountain city in Moab. (Baal-peor/Beth-peor, from Beth-baal-peor).

The people also “ate the sacrifices of the dead”. This could mean ones who were executed. In this text, however, it means they ate sacrifices offered to the local god or Ba’al, Peor… who himself is dead, a fake deity. This caused divine anger in the Lord, and He brought a plague upon them. ‘Plague’ can also mean slaughter, or to be struck down by divine judgment. God still brings devastation on His people if they live unrighteously.

Verses 30&31

  1. Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed.

  2. And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.

In the middle of this evil, God raised up the magistrate, Phinehas (Piynechac, ‘mouth of brass’) to stop the actions of the people. He condemned Zimri and Cozbi and so God lifted the plague. Phinehas was Aaron’s grandson. By his action, God conferred upon his family an everlasting priesthood (until the coming of the Messiah) and counted him to be righteous.

Verses 32-40

  1. They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes:

  2. Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.

  3. They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them:

  4. But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.

  5. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them.

  6. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils,

  7. And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.

  8. Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions.

  9. Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance.

The Psalmist reminded the Israelites of their evils. They did not believe God could deliver them from the Egyptian soldiers, until He opened up the Red Sea. They also complained bitterly about lack of water. This was when Moses gave in and hit a rock with his staff – a river of water came out. It is always a temptation when a pastor or teacher is hounded for particular outcomes by Christians, who push him until he does what they say. As with Moses, this can be a deadly error. For taking part in such demands, he lost his opportunity to enter the Promised Land. Thus, he “spake unadvisedly” “so that it went ill with Moses”. There have been times I have been provoked by fellow believers, and I know just how hard it is to resist the ‘popular vote’. It can lose members, or turn believers against the pastor. But, it must be done.

Then, after entering Canaan with great wealth, and taking over land and cities and homes, the Israelites did not destroy the heathen they came across. They let them live… then mixed with them, and finally adopted their pagan ways. This is a modern evil amongst Christians, for not opposing the incoming of Islam and many other cults. For this we have, and will, suffer. We serve the idols of Islam simply by allowing Islam to operate without opposition and paying benefits to Muslims who do not work, giving them much socially. (Yes, I know some Muslims do work, but it is their religion that harms, not their work, or not).

The Israelites also burned their children alive on altars to false gods. Make no mistake – false gods are “devils” (verse 37), shed (from I) – malignant demons, from a root meaning to destroy, spoil, ruin. Thus, they “shed* innocent blood”. That is, they murdered them, thus polluting the whole land of Canaan and those who joined them in their illicit worship, or even just allowing them to live, and by mingling with them as ‘friends’. These things cause a man to degenerate in spirit and are sinful. (*Though using the same English translated word ‘shed’, the second use is a different Hebrew word , chaphak – to pour out blood).

In these ways the Israelites, given so much by Jehovah, went their own ways and did whatever was in their imaginations. They “went a whoring”, zanah – became harlots (physically and spiritually), committed fornication (which includes all the sexual sins) and adultery, became cultic prostitutes, which all led them to move away from God. They went after their “own inventions”, ma’alal – whatever they wanted to do, though they knew why God had drowned the whole world with the Flood. Again, Jehovah was wrathful towards them and hated them, even though He had chosen them to be His nation on earth. Do what God hates and trouble will come. Ignore His commands and He will rain with penalties.

Verses 41-48

  1. And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them.

  2. Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand.

  3. Many times did he deliver them; but they provoked him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity.

  4. Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry:

  5. And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies.

  6. He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives.

  7. Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise.

  8. Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.

God has, and will, hand over His people to those who hate them, if they play fast and loose with their obedience to Him. When this happens it is only after those same people disregard God’s commands. When God brings down His hammer on His own people we can be assured that it is done for our good, but still is a punishment. And that punishment can last a very long time. At times the punishment is not only for a few weeks – it can last a lifetime, and even longer – it took the Hebrews 400 years of slavery before Moses was sent to free them. It took 70 years for God to release the Israelites from Babylonian bondage.

Yes, God will instantly forgive if we seek His face with repentance. But, the outcome is not always instant. Though forgiven, God can still allow or make the consequences of our sin a hard reminder. This is because sin is no small matter and God must judge each one. Therefore, even when forgiven the consequence of our sin remains, to stop us repeating what is wrong in God’s eyes. It reminds us of our responsibilities before God. Verse 43 shows that God helped the sinful Israelites many times, but they still returned to their evils and sins. Thus, they provoked Him to respond. They knew His laws and commands and yet ignored them. And so God brought them down low. Then, after they suffered because of their own sins, God would bring them back to favour again when they cried out to Him with repentance.

Because He had promised the patriarchs, He “regarded their affliction” even though it was they who brought the affliction upon their own selves. He “remembered” and “repented” because He is merciful. I would remind readers that “repented” in this text does not mean God had done something wrong and then apologised to Himself! It means that when He saw them He grieved and had compassion. Before their repentance He could do nothing. He even made sure that their captors pitied them (verse 46). So, even their enemies had compassion for those they captured as slaves. This was certainly true of Daniel’s early life at the royal court.

The Psalmist finishes by calling on Jehovah to “Save us, O Lord! Take us out of captivity and let us praise your holy Name, showing we are triumphant in our praise”. Even in captivity or under stress, we can still praise the Lord. Indeed, this is the key to our wellbeing, spiritually and emotionally. Let God be blessed always (verse 48), through all eternity. Let us all say “Amen. Praise ye the Lord”! So be it, praise Him for His fidelity and faithfulness, His lovingkindness and holiness, His care towards us.

---oOo---

Published on www.christiandoctrine.com

Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
Wales
United Kingdom