(Today’s post by Chris Queen)
The Psalms cover such a wide range of topics, from songs of praise to laments to what I call the historical poems – that’s what I call those slightly longer psalms that recount different instances in Israel’s history.
Psalm 106 is one of those psalms, and the first half looks at the negative impact of their disobedience just after the exodus, despite the fact that God gave them what they needed every time.
14 In the wilderness they craved ravenously, in the desert they tested God. 15 So He gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease among them. 16 Then they envied Moses in the camp, and also Aaron, the holy one of ADONAI. 17 The earth opened up, swallowed Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram. 18 Also a fire blazed in their company, a flame consumed the wicked. 19 They made a calf in Horeb and worshipped a molten image.20 Thus they exchanged their glory for an image of a grass-eating ox. 21 They forgot God their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt— 22 miracles in the land of Ham, awesome things by the Sea of Reeds. 23 So He commanded their extermination, had not Moses, His chosen one, stood in the breach before Him, to turn His wrath from destroying them.
Why look back at the negatives in the past (besides highlighting the faithfulness of God, which we see elsewhere in Psalm 106)?
8 Yet He saved them for His Name’s sake, to make His mighty power known. 9 He rebuked the Sea of Reeds and it dried up, and He led them through the depths as through a wilderness. 10 So He saved them from the hand of those who hated them, redeemed them from the enemy’s hand. 11 The waters covered their adversaries— not one of them was left. 12 Then they believed His words. They were singing His praise.
Because we need reminders.
Israel’s long descent into oppression, misery, and eventual exile started with one act of disobedience – just like in our lives one sin can lead to pain and hardship. It’s easy to lose sight of that truth when temptation looks so enticing and feels too hard to pass up. Sometimes all it takes is one reminder to keep us from sliding far down into despair.
It’s often been said that it’s better to learn from others’ mistakes than to make the mistakes on our own. We should let Israel’s history serve as a reminder of how sin drives a wedge between us and God. We should heed the warnings that arise from the sins of the ones who have gone before us.
What other reminders do you have in your life to help steer you away from sin?