Psalm 106 A History Of Rebellion And Forgiveness.
In this last of the psalms in book 4 the psalmist praises the LORD for His goodness and mercy (v.1; I Chron. 16:34). His mighty acts are many (v.2). He blesses those who keep righteousness and justice (v. 3 Cf. Ps.15:2). Most of all he seeks the LORD for His salvation (v.4), to enjoy the benefits of His covenant people (v.5 Cf. 119:132). He acknowledges there sin-a very necessary prerequisite (v. 6), with specific examples from there history (v.7). “Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake, that He might make His mighty power known.” (v. 8 Cf. Ex.9:16) Through His sovereign rule over creation and in history, He delivered them from their enemies (vv.9-11). “Then they believed His words; they sang His praise.” (v.12) Moses and the people sang the song we find at Exodus 15, following as it does the deliverance we have recorded in 14.They sang because they finally believed His words.
However, “they soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel.” (v.13). This is always the crux of the matter-believing His word and waiting for His counsel. Too often God’s people are quick to forget His providence and lust for more instead of waiting for His counsel from His word (Cf. Nu.11). As a result He sends leanness into their souls (vv.14-25 Cf. Is.10:16; Jer. 2:13). Out of envy they rebelled against Moses, and “a flame burned up the wicked.” (v.18 Cf. Nu. 16; Dt. 11:2) They then made a golden calf and worshipped it (v.19 Cf. Ex. 32; Dt. 9:8; Acts 7:41). They forgot their saviour and instead envied power, worshipped riches, and lusted after each other unrestrained. They had a new trinity-power, riches, and sex (vv.20-22). They were spared only through the intercession of Moses who stood in the breach (v.23 Cf. Ex. 32:10ff; Dt.9:19; Ezek.22:30).
They despised the LORD and His good providence because again, “they did not believe His word.” (v.24 Cf. Dt.1:32; 9:23; Heb.3:18-19). They complained, instead of heeding His voice (v.25 Cf. Nu.14:2, 27; Dt.1:27). For the unbelieving the wilderness wandering was His covenantal curse upon them (vv.26-27 Cf. Lev. 26:33; Nu.14:28-30; Ezek. 20:15-16, 23; Heb.3:11,18). It didn’t end there. They also joined themselves to the religion of the land they were supposed to conquer-Baal of Peor, and made sacrifices for the dead (v.28). Their deeds provoked the LORD to anger and He sent a plague (v.29). It took the intervention of Phinehas, much like Moses, to turn back the plague (v.30), an act of faith on his part (v.31). Then there was the waters of strife and Moses, also suffered also wavering in unbelief (vv. 32-33 Cf. Cf. Nu. 20:3-13).
Their destruction of the peoples in the promised land was incomplete (v. 34 Cf. Jud.1:21; 2:2). Instead, they gave themselves over to their idolatrous practices (vv.35-36), even to the point of sacrificing their children to demons (v.37-38). Their own works and deeds defiled them (v.39). It justified His wrath against them (v.40). Thus they were made slaves of the Gentiles (vv.41-42). This psalm is a sad litany of their history of rebellion, and yet it is also a history of the LORD’s continued deliverance as He remembered His covenant, according to His mercies, so that even their enemies pitied them (vv.43-46). For this reason the psalmist calls upon the people to ask the LORD God for deliverance yet again and to give thanks and triumph in His praise (vv.47-48).