>If Psalm 105 is Israelite History 101, Psalm 106 is Israelite History 102, with an emphasis on confession of sin.
Most of the psalm’s forty-eight verses review Israel’s sins from the time the people dwelled in Egypt (7), through the exodus (7-12), during their long sojourn in the desert (13-33), as they occupied the Promised Land (32-39), and during their oppression and captivity (40-43).
The psalmist prefaces this long confessional litany of sin with praise and a declaration that seems contradicted by most of the psalm (1-3, ESV):
Praise the LORD!
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD,
or declare all his praise?
Blessed are they who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times!
It’s easy to sing the familiar words praising God’s goodness and his steadfast love, and we readily realize our inability to recount all God’s mighty deeds or adequately declare all the praise due his name. But verse three causes pause.
Can anyone observe justice and do righteousness at all times? Since no one can, how can anyone be blessed?
The psalmist then writes:
Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people;
help me when you save them,
that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones,
that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
that I may glory with your inheritance (4-5, ESV).
God’s favor is the only avenue to blessing. His Son is the only source of salvation. His Spirit is the only way to obey. Because God grants us his favor, salvation through Christ, and sanctification through His Spirit, we begin to live for him. Then we can see the spiritual, if not the physical, prosperity of God’s elect. Then we are able to rejoice within the church community. And then we look forward to our glorious inheritance in Christ.
But while we do these things, we confess our sin.
The long list of Israel’s sins, despite God’s repeated deliverance and provision, confirms the impossibility and our inability to do righteousness at all times. If we’re honest with ourselves, we realize that we are just as sinful as those stiff-necked Israelites. We feel our kinship with Israel, whose “enemies oppressed them” and brought them “into subjection.” Although God delivered them many times, they “were rebellious in their purposes and were brought low through their iniquity” (42-43, ESV).
When we humble our hearts and turn to God in true repentance, he hears our cries for mercy.
Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress,
when he heard their cry.
For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
He caused them to be pitied
by all those who held them captive (44-46, ESV).
God motivated pagan kings to release a remnant of faithful believers from captivity so they could return to the Promised Land. God also remembers his covenant with us. He will grant relief from our distress according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
We can pray with the psalmist:
Save us, O LORD our God,
and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise (47, ESV).
God will save us. But he saves us with a purpose: that we may gives thanks to his holy name and glory in his praise.
Because God is faithful and his love never fails, we praise him with all his people in every place and every time (48, ESV):
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the LORD!
Quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.