>Remembering and Recounting, Psalm 105

>Need a quick lesson in Old Testament covenant history? Read Psalm 105.

Psalm 105 recounts God’s covenantal promise and how he brought his people into the promised land. God made the promise to Abraham, preserved and expanded Abraham’s descendents during hundreds of years in Egypt, brought those two million people out of slavery, and destroyed an entire unbelieving generation in the desert before finally bringing his people into the land flowing with milk and honey.

But Psalm 105 isn’t mere history; it’s history with a purpose. That multi-faceted purpose is reflected in the opening verses (1-6, ESV):

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
Seek the LORD and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

The psalm calls God’s people to do more than remember God’s wondrous works. It calls all of us to worship God, to thank him, to praise him, to glory in his name, to seek him, and to rejoice in him. And one more thing: make known his deeds among the peoples.

Worship must be accompanied by witness.

When we remember and recount God’s covenant faithfulness, we have comfort and confidence for the future. This covenant God still controls all the events in the world, while caring for us and our children.

He is the LORD our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
He remembers his covenant forever,
the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations
(7-8, ESV).

Most of this long psalm conveys God’s sovereignty over the patriarchs’ lives and the Israelite nation. God is the one who “summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread,” but “he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave” (16-17, ESV). This was God’s plan for preserving his people in Egypt.

In that lush land, the Lord “made his people very fruitful and made them stronger than their foes” (24). God is the one who “turned” the “hearts” of the Egyptians “to hate his people” and “to deal craftily with his servants” (25).

But God provided rescue for his people. “He sent Moses, his servant, and Aaron, whom he had chosen” (26).

The psalmist emphasizes God’s actions in subsequent verses describing how God sent each successive plague: “He sent…. He turned…. He spoke…. He gave…. He struck down…. He spoke…. He struck down….” (28-36, ESV).

That emphasis on God’s work continues in verses describing the exodus from Egypt and his provision in the desert: “…he brought out Israel with silver and gold” (37). “He spread a cloud for a covering, and fire to give light by night” (39). “…he brought quail, and gave them bread from heaven in abundance” (40). “He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed through the desert like a river” (41).

God did all this for Israel because “he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant” (42). God is always faithful. His steadfast love never fails. He did not merely deliver his people, he granted them joy and abundance (43-45, ESV):

So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
And he gave them the lands of the nations,
and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil,
that they might keep his statutes
and observe his laws.
Praise the LORD!

God did all this for his people so that they could obey him and praise him. God has delivered each believer from the land of sin’s slavery. Someday he will deliver each of us from this land of sin’s sorrow. What a day that will be!

But until that day comes, we have a responsibility to spread the good news of God’s sovereignty and his salvation through Jesus Christ. We have a duty not merely to remember covenant history in our minds, but to recount it to others!


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