Theme: The Need to Confess Our Sin
In this week’s lessons we see that even when we sin, the Lord remains the God who acts not only in judgment, but also in faithfulness and compassion.
Scripture: Psalm 106:1-48
If verse 1 strikes the keynote of the psalm as far as God is concerned, crying, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever,” verse 6 strikes the keynote as far as the people are concerned. It has to do with Israel’s sin and is a confession of it: “We have sinned, even as our fathers did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly.” What follows from this point is a litany of Israel’s transgressions (vv. 6-39), as I noted above. This section can be handled in a number of different ways. However, as far as the content is concerned, it is probably most helpful to note that there are eight distinguishable sins spread out over three periods of the nation’s history: the time of leaving Egypt, the years in the desert, and the occupation of the Promised Land.
As far as leaving Egypt is concerned, the chief sin of the people was their rebellion against God, mentioned in verse 7: “They did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea.” These “many kindnesses” would have been God’s faithfulness in remembering his promises to Abraham to visit them and deliver them from their Egyptian captivity, and his grace in sending Moses and Aaron as the agents of his deliverance. His “miracles” (v. 7) would be the plagues visited upon the Egyptians. These should have drawn the people to God in faith and grateful obedience. Yet as early as the border of the Red Sea, when they were not yet even completely out of Egypt, they rebelled against God and Moses, complaining, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert” (Exod. 14:11, 12)!
The psalm says that in spite of this rebellion God “saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known” (v. 8). Indeed he did. He parted the waters of the Red Sea to bring them across on dry land. Then he caused the waters to return to drown the pursuing Egyptians so that “not one of them survived” (v. 11).
The psalm says, “Then they believed his promises and sang his praise” (v. 12). True! But it was not much credit to them to have done it then. “This is mentioned, not to their credit, but to their shame,” wrote Spurgeon, since “those who do not believe the Lord’s word till they see it performed are not believers at all….Their song was very excellent,…but sweet as it was, it was quite short, and when it was ended they fell to murmuring.”1
Is it that way with you? You see God’s miracles, but at the first sign of any new opposition you forget what God has done and are soon rebelling against what you suppose to be your hard and painful life? Then, when God saves you again, you sing his praises but soon forget even that deliverance. That is exactly what you and I are like. Should we not say, as the psalmist, “We have sinned, even as our fathers did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly” (v. 6).
1Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 2b, Psalms 88-110 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1966), pp. 366, 367.
Why is verse 6 a keynote for the people?
Name the three periods of time covered in Israel’s history.
What was the people’s primary sin? Why?
According to verse 8, why does God save Israel in the desert? How do the people respond?
Application: How are you like Israel? What kindnesses do you forget?
Prayer: Ask God to draw you to him in grateful obedience.