May 11: Psalm 106

May 11: Psalm 106

Lessons from history—Israel’s rebellion and unfaithfulness

Common meter double 86.86 D             Llangloffan, p. 69
Promised Land, p. 79

O praise the Lord! O thank the Lord! For bountiful is He;

Because His lovingkindness lasts to all eternity.

Who can express Jehovah’s praise or tell His deeds of might?

O blessed are they who justice keep and ever do the right.

Regard me with the favor, Lord, which Thou dost bear to Thine.

O visit Thou my soul in love; make Thy salvation mine;

That I may see Thy people’s good and in their joy rejoice,

And may with Thine inheritance exult with cheerful voice.

With all our fathers we have sinned, iniquity have done;

We have gone on in wickedness, in evil ways have run.

Our fathers did not understand Thy works in Egypt done;

Of all Thy many mercies shown, they did remember none.

Though at the sea, the Sea of Reeds, they were rebellious grown,

He saved them for His own name’s sake, to make His pow-er known.

And so the Red Sea He rebuked; it dried at His command.

And then He led them through the depths as through the desert land.

And from the hand that hated them, He did His people save,

And from the hand of enemies to them redemption gave.

The waters overwhelmed their foes; none lived of all their throng.

His people then believed His words and praised His name in song.

The people soon forgot His works, nor waited for His will;

They lusted in the wilderness, and God they tempted still.

He filled them with the meat they craved, a plague made their reward.

Men envied Moses, Aaron scorned, one holy to the Lord.

The op’ning earth on Dathan closed, Abiram’s band entombed;

A fire blazed in their company and wicked ones consumed.

Yet they at Horeb made a calf, before an image kneeled;

They made their glory like an ox that eats grass in the field.

Then God their Savior they forgot, great things in Egypt done,

In Ham’s land, by the Sea of Reeds, His awesome deeds each one.

He said He’d cut them off, unless before Him in the way

He’d chosen Moses there to stand and turn His wrath away.

Then they despised the pleasant land, did not believe His word,

But, grumbling in their tents, refused to hearken to the Lord.

He therefore swore to cast them down there in the desert sands,

Among the nations cast their seed, and scatter through the lands.

They yoked themselves to Baal Peor, ate off’rings to the dead,

Provoked His anger with their deeds; the plague among them spread.

Then Phin’has stood and interposed, and so the plague was stayed;

Forever this as righteousness to his account was paid.

At Meribah they angered Him, on Moses evil brought,

For they provoked his temper so his speech was rash and hot.

They would not heed the Lord’s command the heathen tribes to slay,

But mingled with the nations all and learned their evil way.

When they the heathen idols served, these were to them a snare,

For they to demons sacrificed their sons and daughters there.

They poured out guiltless blood, the blood their sons and daughters shed

When they, to idols sacrificed, on Canaan’s altars bled.

Polluted was the land with blood, and thus defiled were they

In all their works; and with their acts they went the harlot’s way.

Against the people kindled was the anger of the Lord;

They so provoked His wrath that He His heritage abhorred.

He gave them to the nations’ pow’r, put haters in command;

Their foes oppressed them, and they were subdued beneath their hand.

He many times delivered them, but rebels still were they

In all their plans, so down they went in sin to pine away.

Yet their distress He looked upon when He had heard their cry,

And He remembered for their sake His covenant on high.

Then He relented in His grace and for His mercies’ sake;

He gave them pity from all those who did them captive take.

Save us, O Lord, our gracious God, from heathen lands reclaim,

That we may glory in Thy praise and thank Thy holy name.

Bless’d be Jehovah, Isr’el’s God, to all eternity.

Let all the people say, “Amen.” Praise to the Lord, give ye.

Whereas Psalm 105 uses historical narrative as an outline for the praise of God for His deeds of salvation, Psalm 106 uses it as the structure of a sustained confession of sins and the ongoing motive for repentance. The praise of God in this psalm, then, springs from the consideration of God’s fidelity to His people notwithstanding their own infidelities to Him: “Praise the Lord, for He is gracious, for His mercy endures forever!” The examples of the people’s continued sin are drawn from the accounts of the Exodus and the Desert Wandering, a period of such egregious unfaithfulness that only a few of that entire generation were finally permitted to enter the Promised Land. This poetic narrative, which summarizes much of the Books of Exodus and Numbers, deals with the period of the Desert Wandering as a source of negative moral example: “Don’t let this happen to you.” Such is the approach to that period through much of biblical literature, from Deuteronomy 33 to 1 Corinthians 10.  The gravity of this temptation, of course, arises from its resting on a solid truth. God is faithful to His promises; He will never abandon those who place their confidence in Him. The danger here is not that of excessive trust in God’s fidelity, but of not guarding sufficiently against human infidelity. (Reardon, p. 209-210)

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