Psalm 106 – Thank God That We May Go To Heaven
Psalm 106:1-48 NIV
Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.
Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare His praise?
Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.
Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them,
that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may share in the joy of your nation and join your inheritance in giving praise.
We have sinned, even as our ancestors did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly.
When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea.
Yet He saved them for His name's sake, to make His mighty power known.
He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; He led them through the depths as through a desert.
He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy He redeemed them.
The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived.
Then they believed His promises and sang His praise.
But they soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for His plan to unfold.
In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness they put God to the test.
So He gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease among them.
In the camp they grew envious of Moses and of Aaron, who was consecrated to the Lord.
The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan; it buried the company of Abiram.
Fire blazed among their followers; a flame consumed the wicked.
At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal.
They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass.
They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt,
miracles in the land of Ham and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
So He said He would destroy them – had not Moses, His chosen one, stood in the breach before Him to keep His wrath from destroying them.
Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His promise.
They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord.
So He swore to them with uplifted hand that He would make them fall in the wilderness,
make their descendants fall among the nations and scatter them throughout the lands.
They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods;
they aroused the Lord's anger by their wicked deeds, and a plague broke out among them.
But Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was checked.
This was credited to him as righteousness for endless generations to come.
By the waters of Meribah they angered the Lord, and trouble came to Moses because of them;
for they rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses' lips.
They did not destroy the peoples as the Lord had commanded them,
but they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs.
They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them.
They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to false gods.
They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.
They defiled themselves by what they did; by their deeds they prostituted themselves.
Therefore the Lord was angry with His people and abhorred His inheritance.
He gave them into the hands of the nations, and their foes ruled over them.
Their enemies oppressed them and subjected them to their power.
Many times He delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin.
Yet He took note of their distress when He heard their cry;
for their sake He remembered His covenant and out of His great love He relented.
He caused all who held them captive to show them mercy.
Save us, Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord.
The Psalmist praised God eloquently, and yet he posed a question, asking who can “fully declare His praise?” Indeed, even as we praise God for the many wonders we see and the blessings we are grateful for, there’s still so much more that’s wonderful and beautiful about God that we don’t fully comprehend. It is beyond our imagination how great our God is.
The Psalmist prayed that those who practice what’s right and just would be blessed by God. We know we cannot earn our salvation through our works, but we definitely hope that God sees what we do, is pleased with us, and blesses our efforts.
The Psalmist asked God not to forget him, but to remember to “come to my aid”. He didn’t assume or take for granted that he had the right to salvation. He requested God to save him, acknowledging that he didn’t deserve it because “we have done wrong and acted wickedly.”
Do we see the humble position the Psalmist took? He didn’t see himself as above his fellow Jews, but saw himself as a sinner like everyone else. How do we see ourselves compared to our fellow disciples and even those outside of our church? Do we imagine ourselves to be better, or more deserving than them?
Note that the psalm changed from the use of “I” to “we” here. The Psalmist was not just looking out for himself, he was praying for others like him too. See the heart of the psalm; we are not supposed to be self-centred. We need to see ourselves as sinners, like everyone else, in need of God’s mercy.
The Psalmist listed 7 past failures of the Israelites. God loved and saved them despite these failures:
After the 10 plagues in Egypt, the Israelites were set free from slavery, but the Egyptian army pursued them. With the Red Sea before them and their enemies behind them, the Israelites got scared and blamed Moses (Exodus 14:11). They were rebellious against God despite seeing His miracles and how He has won their freedom for them. Yet God saved them by parting the Red Sea, even when they were faithless.
Not long after they’ve sung praises to God for saving them, they quickly forgot God’s love and power again. They started complaining that they missed the meat they had in Egypt. The fact is, they were oppressed slaves and never enjoyed meat in Egypt. God gave them manna and quail to provide for their needs, but he also sent a disease on them to teach them a lesson (Numbers 11:33).
A short time later, Korah led Dathan and Abiram, in a coup attempt against Moses and Aaron. They had grown envious of Moses' and Aaron’s position as the chosen leader and the high priest respectively. God brought judgment against the coup by opening up the ground to swallow them up along with their families (Numbers 16:24).
While Moses was receiving the 10 Commandments on Mount Sinai, the people forgot about the God who had saved them from the Egyptians. They made a golden calf and worshipped it as their god instead. If Moses had not stood before God to keep His wrath from destroying them, the ungrateful Israelites would have been annihilated. After that, the people were faithless about entering the Promised Land and God caused them to wander in the desert. No one in their generation, except Caleb and Joshua, got to see the Promised Land (Exodus 32:19).
Israelite men started indulging in sexual immorality with Moabite women and joined them in worshipping their pagan gods. Even when Moses was having a meeting with the leaders of Israel about this problem, an Israelite man brought a woman to his tent to have sex with her right before their eyes. It was only when Phinehas drove a spear through both the man and the woman that God stopped the plague on the Israelites (Numbers 25).
At Meribah, the people complained to Moses again, this time over the lack of water. This angered Moses. God told Moses to speak to the rock to bring forth water but Moses struck the rock instead. As a result, Moses was prohibited from entering the promised land (Numbers 20).
After they entered Canaan, the Israelites did not get rid of all the Canaanites and instead adopted their practices. They worshiped their idols, sacrificed their sons and their daughters to false gods, and they prostituted themselves. God gave them into the hands of other nations. The Israelites were brought so low because they did evil in the eyes of God. Yet, God saved them again and again when He heard their cries and saw their distress (Book of Judges).
“For their sake He remembered His covenant and out of His great love He relented. He caused all who held them captive to show them mercy.”
“Save us, Lord our God, and gather us from the nations.”
Moses prophesied that God would scatter the Israelites among the nations when they became corrupt and worshipped idols. God would remove them from the land and scatter them among the nations.
After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time – if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing His anger, I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey Him. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; He will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which He confirmed to them by oath. (Deuteronomy 4:25-31 NIV)
This happened some 550 years later, at the time of the Babylonian conquest of Judah. So this psalm seemed to have been written when their captivity ended and they were allowed to return to their land. The Psalmist called on his people to give thanks to God that they were able to return to their land.
Are we grateful for what Christ has done for us, enabling us to return to God’s Holy Land? He died for us while we were still sinners. Recounting all the past failures in our life helps us to see God’s faithfulness. I didn’t like recalling my failures because it hurt my pride. But it is necessary to remember them. How can we be grateful to God if we don’t remember our failures?
It is a privilege to be a follower of Christ. The Psalmist felt grateful to God as he acknowledged his sins and the sins of his people. As they prepared to return to their land after 70 years of exile, he thanked God for saving them again. He asked all his people to “Praise the Lord”.
We too, will get to Heaven one day! Let’s recount our past failures and sins and give thanks to God.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit. Andy joined the Central Christian Church in 1990.