Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Morning ponderings on Psalm 106 (NASB)

Each morning as I wolf down my cereal & toast, I like to have something to read. Given that somehow I run from the beginning of my day to the end, I have made it a point to read the Word during breakfast. It's almost guaranteed. Even though I'm rushed and hurried, God somehow always manages to impress something upon me in the short time that I get to share with Him. Sometimes it's something small, sometimes it's something bigger. I want to try and voice these out, and with my new commitment to blogging more (wait, that's not a new commitment...) I think I can safely share it here. Hopefully it resonates with you...or at least makes you think.

Psalm 106 is basically a rough history of the nation of Israel, all crammed into one chapter. Yowza. Hundreds of years, millions of people. You'd think it would take more than that, but no. And what is it summed up by in the sub-title? "Israel's Rebelliousness and the LORD'S Deliverances." Dang. That kinda sucks for Israel when you think about it. Years and years of history, and what are they remembered for? Rebelliousness. Gotta work on that Israel.

However, the real meat of it is right there in the same sentence. First portion: Israel (People in general) screw up. A lot. Second Portion: God is always there to fix it. Not just once - He doesn't just toss us after the first screwup. That's Deliverances ladies and gentlemen - plural. And the same applies to us.

The majority of Psalm 106 plays like a broken record: Israel forgets God, Israel becomes oppressed, God saves Israel. And what struck me about this is that we're the same way. It's easy to look at the Old Testament and dismiss it as boring, old stories. I know I did that for a long time. The New Testament was much more interesting - it had Jesus, and Paul and all kinds of good stuff. But the OT? Wasn't that just rules, regulations and some stuff in Song of Solomon that you weren't really supposed to read (or understand) until you were married?

After having much of the OT summed up for me in Psalm 106, I came to a conclusion. The OT isn't boring (it is old.) What God is providing for us through the OT is twofold: a warning and a promise. The warning is to not repeat history - God gave everything He had to the Israelites, and they just didn't get it. The promise is of salvation through Jesus' death and resurrection on the cross. We already have the promise - in our hands, tangible and living.

So far, I haven't even quoted any scripture, but now we're there. Because while we often dismiss much of the OT as "old" - it still applies to everyday life, and Psalm 106 especially. So let's get into it:

Psalm 106: 19-25

19 They made a calf in Horeb
And worshiped a molten image.
20 Thus they exchanged their glory
For the image of an ox that eats grass.
21 They forgot God their Savior,
Who had done great things in Egypt,
22 Wonders in the land of Ham
And awesome things by the Red Sea.
23 Therefore He said that He would destroy them,
Had not Moses His chosen one stood in the breach before Him,
To turn away His wrath from destroying them.
24 Then they despised the pleasant land;
They did not believe in His word,
25 But grumbled in their tents;
They did not listen to the voice of the LORD.

Here we see one snapshot - Israel has just gotten out of Egypt - God saved them from intense slavery and the murder of their male children. Kind of a big deal, no? And what do they do? They made a gold cow. Yeah. A cow. That eats grass, farts methane to destroy the ozone layer, and provides tasty steaks. They "forgot God their Savior." How often do we do that? How often do we forget the awesome saving power of our Lord, and throw it all away for the things of this world? Maybe it's not a cow - but it's probably other worldly things. Idols aren't just statues made of gold - it's anything that holds a place in our hearts before God.

This comes into play later in Psalm 106, specifically verses 35-39:

35 But they mingled with the nations
And learned their practices,
36 And served their idols,
Which became a snare to them.
37 They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons,
38 And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and their daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
And the land was polluted with the blood.
39 Thus they became unclean in their practices,
And played the harlot in their deeds.

Are we doing this? Are we becoming more worldly in our actions? I know I'm guilty. I know I allow myself to say, do, hear and see things that I shouldn't. Every time, it's a compromise, letting myself be snared by the world. I pray that I will change my ways - to stay clean. Even though I know God forgives me every time I screw up.

What happens next? God promises His wrath (something I never want to face, but thanks to Jesus, never have to) upon Israel. Moses intervenes, begging for forgiveness. God relents, and is still planning on giving them the land of Canaan, a land "flowing with milk and honey." Sounds nice, doesn't it? I don't think I'd complain. However, what is Israel's response? They rejected the land, didn't believe in God, and didn't listen. What a thank-you, Hallmark should take notes.

Again, how does this apply to us? How often do we trust in our own understanding, and push God aside? How often do we look at small things in our life and dismiss all the blessings that God has bestowed upon us? I know I allow it to happen more than I should. This fallen world, Satan and his demons, want us to be dragged down until we can't see the light and hope that is God above. I challenge you readers (and myself) to stand above this, rejoicing in the salvation that God has provided for us - along with the tons of good things that He has provided.

Sounds like we've got a pretty difficult road ahead of us. But if there is one thing to take from Psalm 106, it's the promise of God's greatest gift in Jesus. For the psalm ends with:

43 Many times He would deliver them;
They, however, were rebellious in their counsel,
And so sank down in their iniquity.
44 Nevertheless He looked upon their distress
When He heard their cry;
45 And He remembered His covenant for their sake,
And relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness.
46 He also made them objects of compassion
In the presence of all their captors.
47 Save us, O LORD our God,
And gather us from among the nations,
To give thanks to Your holy name
And glory in Your praise.

God delivers us from our iniquity. God looks upon our distresses, when we cry out - and God remembers his promise. We are forgiven, we are redeemed, we are saved. And at the end of the day, we should echo the psalmist in verse 48:

48 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
From everlasting even to everlasting.
And let all the people say, "Amen."
Praise the LORD!

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