“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!” Israel’s God is good. His covenant faithfulness and mercy last forever. The people who called upon His Name in ancient days needed to acknowledge these truths. They were to speak rightly concerning the Almighty and publicly embrace the life of committed obedience to His Word.
It was a great privilege to rejoice in the Lord as a part of God’s Old Testament people. The faithful worshiper knew that the Lord would “show favor” to His chosen ones, and that He would bring them “prosperity” and “gladness.” God was committed to save those who earnestly called out to Him in worship and followed Him with sincere obedience.
The problem of Old Testament history was not a lack of faithfulness on the Lord’s part, but sin on the part of His people. Even though “we and our fathers have sinned,” the Almighty continued to show favor to His beloved Israel. He “rebuked the Red Sea” for them and helped them in their battles against many enemies, “but they soon forgot His works,” and “they did not wait for His counsel.”
What was the Lord doing over the decades of their rebellion? He disciplined His people according to His fatherly love and covenant faithfulness. Think of the episodes recorded in Numbers: Korah’s rebellion, the golden calf incident, the Baal of Peor, and constant murmuring against God. The people forgot about the Lord’s goodness. They thought more fondly of Egypt than about God’s good gift of the Promised Land.
Along the way there were a few who stood up bravely for the Lord and His Law—men like Moses and Phinehas. Yet even Moses was not permitted to enter the Promised Land. An entire generation died in the wilderness. Their children would be given the gifts that they had despised, but within a few years the chosen people would again ignore the Lord’s commandments. They would not “destroy the peoples,” but “mixed with the nations and learned to do what they did.” They soon became ensnared in the vile spiritual practices of the Canaanites, even killing their own children as sacrifices to “the idols of Canaan.”
The Lord repeatedly handed them over to their enemies in order to discipline them. When they called out to Him for help, “many times He delivered them,” but they continually returned to their evil ways. Though they had no constancy in their affections and obedience, the Lord always “remembered His covenant.”
Because of the plain facts of Old Testament history, the final plea of Psalm 106 must be grounded in God and His steady character rather than in the faithfulness of His people. “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.” Even today, our petition to the Almighty in our time of need must be based on the perfect faithfulness of Jesus and His eternal mercy. We have received the greatest salvation imaginable because of the righteousness and blood of the one Lamb of God. We look to Him again today and live.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
O Lord our God, You are good. You show favor to Your people We rejoice in You together with all of Your children. You met us with salvation when we had nowhere left to turn. You made a way for us through the tumultuous sea of Your righteous judgments. You have seen us when we were trapped in the snare of our sins and have provided a way out through the life and death of Your Son. If You were to charge us for our sins, there would never be any hope of life for us. Your Son stood up on our behalf at just the right time. His righteousness has covered over our rebellion. We have been cleansed by His blood. We are assured of Your love for us through Him. You see us even now in our distress and help us through every situation of despair and disaster. Please save us again and again, until we are with You, body and soul, in our heavenly habitation.