Psalm 106 – A Bad Response to God’s Love

Reading Time: 8 Minutes

Clint Eastwood fans may remember the movie, “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.” Psalm 105 rejoices in the “good” God has done for his people.

Unfortunately, Psalm 106 presents the “bad” and “ugly” history of Israel’s disobedience, sin and rebellion toward God.

Praise and Behavior

God’s character is once again illuminated at the beginning of this Psalm.

Praise the Lord!
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord,
or declare all his praise?
3 Happy are those who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times.
(Psalm 106.1-3)

Remember the Hebrew lesson from Psalm 103. The key word, “hesed,” that is found in so much of the Hebrew Scriptures, is the reason why we praise and thank God.

Hesed,” originally meant “covenant keeping ability.” God formed a personal relationship with the people of Israel. His part of the agreement was to be their God, to care for them, and to give them the promised land.

Psalm 105 tells the history of how God fulfilled his part of the covenant or agreement. To do that, he had to free a nation from slavery and settle them in the land of promise.

What about Israel? Did they keep their part of the agreement? Did they observe righteousness and do justice, as lauded in verse 3? It is sad to say, but the answer is “no.”

A History of Rebellion

The Psalm outlines a long history of rebellion among God’s very own people.

Verses 6-8 (Exodus 14.10-14) – Even as the people of God were escaping 400 years of slavery, they became fearful and complained to God.

What about us? As we are escaping the slavery of addiction or self-centered activities, it is tempting to go back to our old familiar ways.

Moses told the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today” (Exodus 14.13).

When we stand firm and look to the Lord for freedom, we will experience God’s mighty power.

Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
so that he might make known his mighty power.
(Psalm 106.8)

Verses 13-18 – The people of God continually grumbled against their leaders. When their needs or wants were not met, they fondly remembered their time as slaves in Egypt. However, they neglected to recall how they complained about the harshness of their taskmasters.

“What have you done for me lately,” is expressed by self-centered, self-pleasing, self-consumed people quite often. We praise God and his leaders, when things go well.

When something affects the pleasures that seem to rule our lives, we are quick to complain.

Idol Worship

Exodus 32 describes how God’s people turned away from him to worship a golden calf.

They made a calf at Horeb
and worshiped a cast image.
They exchanged the glory of God
for the image of an ox that eats grass.
They forgot God, their Savior,
who had done great things in Egypt.
(Psalm 106.19-21)

One of my favorite preachers used to say, “When people turn away from God, they don’t turn to nothing. They turn to anything.”

God’s people turned away from the Creator, who had established his steadfast love with them and bowed down to “an ox that eats grass.”

How did this happen? They forgot what God had done for them and turned to a very poor substitute for the Greatest Being of All.

If you think this is strange, what about people today who turn away from God for addiction, money, the world’s fame, and much more?

A Summary of Sin

Verses 24-25 summarize the sin and rebellion of God’s people.

Then they despised the pleasant land,
having no faith in his promise.
They grumbled in their tents,
and did not obey the voice of the Lord.
(Psalm 106.24-26)

In four lines, the writer of the Psalm describes the heart-attitude of rebellion.

(1) Rebellion and sin are rooted in dissatisfaction with God. To despise something is to think lightly of it.

When we believe that God has somehow “short-changed” us, we set ourselves up for rebellion. If we think that God can’t “throw a good party,” we may try someone or something else instead of God.

(2) Unbelief is at the center of iniquity and transgression. If we doubt God’s love and his power to provide for us, we will seek substitutes.

We live in an “I want it all and I want it now” world. When God doesn’t seem to give us excellent customer service, our lack of faith will lead us to other sources of satisfaction.

(3) Grumbling is an outgrowth of being dissatisfied with God and of not trusting his work in our lives.

It seems as if we live in a “victim” society today. Nearly everywhere you go you will find someone who has been offended or hurt. People from all walks of life speak of how their rights have been violated.

Resentments are a big deal in the program of Alcoholic’s Anonymous. One of my friends often says, “If you keep on with that, you’re going to get loaded, pal.”

Resentments and grumbling will take us away from God and send us to substitutes for him and his gracious work.

AA has a great saying that is worthy of being quoted.

“Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy.

“I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes” (Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous Page 417).

(4) When we take lightly what God has done for us and don’t rely on God’s love and power, we are on shaky ground with God. Add resentments and grumbling to the mix and we end up turning away from the voice of the Lord in disobedience.

The fall from freedom and joy to idolatry and rebellion does not take place quickly. It begins when we stop listening to the voice of the Lord.

We take for granted all of God’s gifts to us and begin to complain about what we have not received. Resentments lead us to outright disobedience.

The remainder of the Psalm outlines a litany of further ways that people who should have enjoyed a loving relationship with God turned away from him.

Save Us Please

When people finally reached rock bottom because of their rebellion, they cried out to God for his mercy.

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.
(Psalm 106.47)

The greatest gift of God to us his willingness to forgive us and come to our aid. Once again, he will take us from the pits of slavery and give us the ability to praise his name.

Before leaving this Psalm please take some time to review verses 24-26. Ask yourself if you are sliding into any aspects of rebellion that are mentioned there.

May We Pray for You?

The prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church is honored to pray for you. Please email me at bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and so will the prayer team.

3 Comments

  1. In my life, I can’t recall a time when there was more grumbling, fear and dissatisfaction than in this day of coronavirus, violence, political squabbling and in-fighting. It has started with leaders, with celebrities, with news media, with church leaders and seems to have spilled over into our lives, our children and grandchildren – to all generations.

    Not every person in leadership is living in fear and distrust, but enough are that we see evidence of it manifested everywhere we look…..EXCEPT, if we look up.

    You’ve pointed out that I’ve personally had a hard year. I won’t deny that. In many ways, 2020 continues to try to drag me to dispair. When I come to Scripture like Psalm 106 and I see the ingratitude of the Israelites, I know that my own nature would let me sink into a pit where I could be of no use to my family, my friends, to my God if I don’t set my mind on Christ and what He continues to do for me daily.

    Counting my blessings is a way to glorify God for all He has done and continues to do for me, teaching me to fully rely on Him. My life only matters if I make Him Lord.

    Adding to the societal issues of this year, I lost my husband to cancer…but I can’t stop with that thought, I must acknowledge and bask in the blessed memories of years God gave us that medically we shouldn’t have had.

    My daughter’s large, carefully planned March wedding was hit by coronavirus lockdown the day before – but what a beautiful intimate time it was with just parents celebrating without a barrage of guests to distract.

    The job that I enjoyed was changed drastically by a corporate takeover…but I am still employed and while now it is only part-time, it gives me opportunity to be of service helping with childcare for grandkids. I know God will handle the financial change as well.

    And losing my dad…what a shock to find him. But what a blessing to see what his life meant to so many. And to know that he sits with Jesus today.

    My joy comes from knowing and trusting God. My sadness is real – but so is that deep abiding joy. There are days when, like the Israelites, I take my eyes off Jesus and look around in grumbling dispair. I’m ungrateful. I’m pitiful. I’m overwhelmed. And then I must repent of my ingratitude and return to His joy. As Paul shared with Thessalonica – “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
    (1 Thessalonians 5:16‭-‬18 )

    This is the secret to life the Israelites missed. Praise God for being “Always.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Denise. This has been a very difficult year. If you check out a “stress index,” you probably are off the chart on difficult issues that they list.

    God gave you a wonderful family and heritage. He also gave you a relationship with Jesus that is real and vibrant.

    As I read your thoughts, I see the two coming together. You certainly have had many hard knocks this year, but Jesus has held your hand. You are able to live in gratitude, even though it is difficult.

    I hope my words convey the appreciation I have for how you have endured the stress of 2020. May God bless you and your family richly.

    Like

  3. Thank you for your encouragement. God has always proven Himself faithful and loving. That truth is where my foundation must stand. I don’t always feel it…but I do always know it.

    Like

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