Psalm 106

Psa. 106:1    Praise the Lord!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord,
or declare all his praise?
3 Blessed are they who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times!

Preaching through this psalm I was struck by the way God’s faithfulness was shown in spite of the faithless people of Israel. The psalm recounts how Israel failed to live a life of faith and love to the God who redeemed them time and time again. The psalmist attributes this faithlessness to the fact that they “soon forgot his works and did not trust his word”. (7, 12, 13, 24, 43) The result was a life of disobedience manifested in heinous and unimaginable sin. The sin they entered into was punished harshly by God and then when they cried out to him, he looked upon their distress and “relented according to his steadfast love.” (45)

Their sin wasn’t something even we, in our modern desensitized hearts, could look over. Shortly after their Red Sea experience they created a calf of gold and worshipped it. Proclaiming this was the god that delivered them from the army of Pharaoh. While they were in the wilderness in Egypt they murmured in their hearts because they were hungry and God graciously fed them manna from heaven. It wouldn’t be long till they would forget again and then become intimate with a pagan god. Partaking in blasphemous sacrifices and even sacrificing their own children. This provocation was met by a strong plague sent by the Lord but in His mercy He didn’t wipe them out as a nation, due to the interventions by Moses and Phinehas. Eventually God’s anger would bring about the exile of Israel. The “warning, punishment, deliverance” cycle was abused too often by the young nation. So they were removed from their homeland yet in exile God’s mercy and grace was with them. He “caused them to be pitied” (46). They are delivered again from their dispersion and brought home.

The Christian sometimes reads the story of Israel and shakes their head in disbelief. How could a people who witnessed the great miracles of Scripture turn back on God? Especially when skeptics abound today who ask to see even one miracle of biblical proportion. Yet what we observe in the narrative of Israel, is that in spite of their great sins, some that are simply incomprehensible, God did not forget his covenant. He did not forget his promise to make a people for himself and to secure for them an eternal dwelling with him.

We observe in the history of Scripture and the Church the faithlessness of God’s people met by his enduring patience and steadfast love. This is exemplified to us most dramatically at the Cross where the perfect Son of God is murdered at the hands of sinful men. In a drama fitting for Scripture, God’s faithfulness knows no end, as Jesus would rise from the dead for the justification of his people. We look back, and this refrain of Israel, written so long ago, is ours today to sing and proclaim “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”.