Psalm 106:1-23: A Strange Thanksgiving
May 12, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Surely few, if any, would write a song like this one today, or include its emphases in their annual report! This psalm starts out traditionally enough (“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever”), but it soon goes to unfamiliar territory. When the psalmist asks that God “remember” him with “favor,” it is quickly followed by a litany of the sins of God’s people! Not normally the subject of a song that we would write for praise today—all the mistakes, sins, rebellion of the people of God! The psalmist recounts their sin before they crossed the Red Sea, their sin in the desert, and their sin making a golden calf as an idol. It would be like writing a song today that instead of celebrating all the great and good of past Christian ages, told the story of all the wrongs that the church has done.
Why does the psalm “praise the Lord” by recounting all the sins of God’s people? For at least four reasons:
- It is unhealthy to photoshop out the mistakes and sins of our heroes. That does not mean that we should be quick to eviscerate every error that a Christian leader makes; far from it. But it does mean that we should be honest about the fact that in years gone by, Christians have not always done what is right. How are we to learn from our failures if we do not even acknowledge that they are failures?
- It is healthy to recount sins because it gives God’s people an appropriate humility. We are not called to grovel in the dust, but we are called to remember that only God can save. Self-righteousness is no more to be a bed-fellow with a Christian than bed bugs, lice or locusts. The Christian, if anyone, should be humble, for the Christian is the person who has recognized that he needs saving.
- It is honoring to God to recount the fact that is God who did it—not we ourselves. Too many of our perspectives on the great moves of God are human-centric not theocentric. We rejoice at hearing of the story of some church growing exponentially, and prominent in the story will be the brilliance of the key leader. There is no doubt that God does use some men and women in extraordinary ways. But the emphasis must be that it is God who does it—even if he chooses to use frail, broken jars of clay.
- It is good to have a holistic view of the Bible whereby we see the Old Testament as a story of God’s rescue, not merely a record of unattainable and unrealistic rules. The more we can see the human, rebellious note that runs throughout the Old Testament, the more we will understand the necessity of grace, the work of God’s Spirit, and be moved towards dependence upon God.
So praise the Lord! Give thanks that he is good. Especially because his steadfast love endures even through the failings and faults and depravity of humanity, even of his own people. Let that encourage you, sinner, that God can use you too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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