Yesterday, as we read Psalm 105, the psalmist recorded God’s many acts of covenant loyalty to Israel. God was faithful to Israel at every turn. The first 5 verses of Psalm 106 seem like it might be a continuation from 105—so much so that Psalm 105 ends with the same word that begins 106, “Hallelujah,” which is transliterated from the Hebrew meaning “Praise the Lord.”
We see a reminder in verse 1 that God’s “lovingkindness” (NASB, or loyal, covenant love—hesed) endures forever. The next several verses go on in hymnic fashion to praise the Lord and plead with Him to “remember” and to “visit with Your salvation.” It is here that we begin to notice a turn from Psalm 105. While 105 declares God’s fidelity, verse 6 sets the stage for Israel’s continuous infidelity. Psalm 106 tells story after story of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God, and God’s continued patient discipline to call His people to repentance.
In many ways, Psalm 106 acts as an overview of Old Testament history. The story picks up with “Our fathers in Egypt…” in the days of Moses. There is a telling line that is the lynchpin for Israel’s unfaithfulness found in verse 21—“They forgot God their Savior.” In forgetting the God who delivered Israel from the crushing weight of Egyptian captivity, Israel wandered from the “justice” and “righteousness” that the psalmist esteems in verse 3.
Israel’s forgetting takes them to the point that the psalmist refers to them as “sinking down in their iniquity” (43), interpreting Israel’s oppression by their enemies rightly, as the consequences of rebellion. This, we understand, as the Babylonian Exile. The Exile, outside of the Exodus, is the most important event in the Old Testament when God removed His people from the Land He had given them. This punishment is spelled out clearly in Deuteronomy 28. However, verses 44–48 call upon the Lord to act upon His promise in Deuteronomy 30,
“So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, 2 and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, 3 then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.” (Deuteronomy 30:1–3)
Psalm 106 closes one of the major divisions in the book of Psalms, book 4. Each book of the Psalms was added to the psalter at various times. Book 4 was added toward the end of the Babylonian Exile (if not around its conclusion), and it’s a clear cry to God of confession and repentance. Likewise, the people cry out to God to remember His promise as He renews His people to covenant glory (4–5).
In what ways have you “forgotten God your Savior?”
When you look back over your past in what ways do you see God’s love overcoming your own disloyalty?
Is there any sin you need to confess and repent of? What promises of God are you hanging onto today?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate