The happiness of God's people. (1-5) Israel's sins. (6-12) Their provocations. (13-33) Their rebellions in Canaan. (34-46) Prayer for more complete deliverance. (47,48)
Verses 1-5 None of our sins or sufferings should prevent our ascribing glory and praise to the Lord. The more unworthy we are, the more is his kindness to be admired. And those who depend on the Redeemer's righteousness will endeavour to copy his example, and by word and deed to show forth his praise. God's people have reason to be cheerful people; and need not envy the children of men their pleasure or pride.
Verses 6-12 Here begins a confession of sin; for we must acknowledge that the Lord has done right, and we have done wickedly. We are encouraged to hope that though justly corrected, yet we shall not be utterly forsaken. God's afflicted people own themselves guilty before him. God is distrusted because his favours are not remembered. If he did not save us for his own name's sake, and to the praise of his power and grace, we should all perish.
Verses 13-33 Those that will not wait for God's counsel, shall justly be given up to their own hearts' lusts, to walk in their own counsels. An undue desire, even for lawful things, becomes sinful. God showed his displeasure for this. He filled them with uneasiness of mind, terror of conscience, and self-reproach. Many that fare deliciously every day, and whose bodies are healthful, have leanness in their souls: no love to God, no thankfulness, no appetite for the Bread of life, and then the soul must be lean. Those wretchedly forget themselves, that feast their bodies and starve their souls. Even the true believer will see abundant cause to say, It is of the Lord's mercies that I am not consumed. Often have we set up idols in our hearts, cleaved to some forbidden object; so that if a greater than Moses had not stood to turn away the anger of the Lord, we should have been destroyed. If God dealt severely with Moses for unadvised words, what do those deserve who speak many proud and wicked words? It is just in God to remove those relations that are blessings to us, when we are peevish and provoking to them, and grieve their spirits.
Verses 34-48 The conduct of the Israelites in Canaan, and God's dealings with them, show that the way of sin is down-hill; omissions make way for commissions: when they neglected to destroy the heathen, they learned their works. One sin led to many more, and brought the judgments of God on them. Their sin was, in part, their own punishment. Sinners often see themselves ruined by those who led them into evil. Satan, who is a tempter, will be a tormentor. At length, God showed pity to his people for his covenant's sake. The unchangeableness of God's merciful nature and love to his people, makes him change the course of justice into mercy; and no other change is meant by God's repentance. Our case is awful when the outward church is considered. When nations professing Christianity, are so guilty as we are, no wonder if the Lord brings them low for their sins. Unless there is general and deep repentance, there can be no prospect but of increasing calamities. The psalm concludes with prayer for completing the deliverance of God's people, and praise for the beginning and progress of it. May all the people of the earth, ere long, add their Amen.
Psalms 106:1-48 . This Psalm gives a detailed confession of the sins of Israel in all periods of their history, with special reference to the terms of the covenant as intimated ( Psalms 105:45 ). It is introduced by praise to God for the wonders of His mercy, and concluded by a supplication for His favor to His afflicted people, and a doxology.
1. Praise, ends the Psalm, intimating the obligations of praise, however we sin and suffer 1 Chronicles 16:34-36 is the source from which the beginning and end of this Psalm are derived.
2. His acts exceed our comprehension, as His praise our powers of expression ( Romans 11:33 ). Their unutterable greatness is not to keep us back, but to urge us the more to try to praise Him as best we can ( Psalms 40:5 , 71:15 ).
3. The blessing is limited to those whose principles and acts are right. How "blessed" Israel would be now, if he had "observed God's statutes" ( Psalms 105:45 ).
4, 5. In view of the desert of sins to be confessed, the writer invokes God's covenant mercy to himself and the Church, in whose welfare he rejoices. The speaker, me, I, is not the Psalmist himself, but the people, the present generation (compare Psalms 106:6 ).
visit--(Compare Psalms 8:4 ).
5. see the good--participate in it ( Psalms 37:13 ).
thy chosen--namely, Israel, God's elect ( Isaiah 43:20 , 45:4 ). As God seems to have forgotten them, they pray that He would "remember" them with the favor which belongs to His own people, and which once they had enjoyed.
thine inheritance--( Deuteronomy 9:29 , 32:9 ).
6. Compare 1 Kings 8:47 , Daniel 9:5 , where the same three verbs occur in the same order and connection, the original of the two later passages being the first one, the prayer of Solomon in dedicating the temple.
sinned . . . fathers--like them, and so partaking of their guilt. The terms denote a rising gradation of sinning (compare Psalms 1:1 ).
with our fathers--we and they together forming one mass of corruption.
7-12. Special confession. Their rebellion at the sea ( Exodus 14:11 ) was because they had not remembered nor understood God's miracles on their behalf. That God saved them in their unbelief was of His mere mercy, and for His own glory.
the sea . . . the Red Sea--the very words in which Moses' song celebrated the scene of Israel's deliverance ( Exodus 15:4 ). Israel began to rebel against God at the very moment and scene of its deliverance by God!
8. for his name's sake--( Ezekiel 20:14 ).
9. rebuked--( Psalms 104:7 ).
as through the wilderness--( Isaiah 63:11-14 ).
12. believed . . . his words--This is said not to praise the Israelites, but God, who constrained even so unbelieving a people momentarily to "believe" while in immediate view of His wonders, a faith which they immediately afterwards lost ( Psalms 106:13 , Exodus 14:31 , 15:1 ).
13-15. The faith induced by God's display of power in their behalf was short lived, and their new rebellion and temptation was visited by God with fresh punishment, inflicted by leaving them to the result of their own gratified appetites, and sending on them spiritual poverty ( Numbers 11:18 ).
They soon forgat--literally, "They hasted, they forgat" (compare Exodus 32:8 ). "They have turned aside quickly (or, hastily) out of the way." The haste of our desires is such that we can scarcely allow God one day. Unless He immediately answers our call, instantly then arise impatience, and at length despair.
his works--( Deuteronomy 11:3 Deuteronomy 11:4 , Daniel 9:14 ).
his counsel--They waited not for the development of God's counsel, or plan for their deliverance, at His own time, and in His own way.
14. Literally, "lusted a lust" (quoted from Numbers 11:4 , Margin). Previously, there had been impatience as to necessaries of life; here it is lusting ( Psalms 78:18 ).
15. but sent leanness--rather, "and sent," that is, and thus, even in doing so, the punishment was inflicted at the very time their request was granted. So Psalms 78:30 , "While their meat was yet in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them."
soul--the animal soul, which craves for food ( Numbers 11:6 , Psalms 107:18 ). This soul got its wish, and with it and in it its own punishment. The place was therefore called Kibroth-hattaavah ("the graves of lust," Numbers 11:34 ) because there they buried the people who had lusted. Animal desires when gratified mostly give only a hungry craving for more ( Jeremiah 2:13 ).
16-18. All the congregation took part with Dathan, Korah, &c., and their accomplices ( Numbers 16:41 ).
Aaron the saint--literally, "the holy one," as consecrated priest; not a moral attribute, but one designating his office as holy to the Lord. The rebellion was followed by a double punishment: (1) of the non-Levitical rebels, the Reubenites, Dathan and Abiram, &c. ( Deuteronomy 11:6 , Numbers 26:10 ); these were swallowed up by the earth.
17. covered--"closed upon them" ( Numbers 16:33 ). (2) Of the Levitical rebels, with Korah at their head ( Numbers 16:35 , 26:10 ); these had sinned by fire, and were punished by fire, as Aaron's (being high priest) sons had been ( Leviticus 10:2 Numbers 16:1-35 ).
19-23. From indirect setting God at naught, they pass to direct.
made--though prohibited in Exodus 20:4 Exodus 20:5 to make a likeness, even of the true God.
calf--called so in contempt. They would have made an ox or bull, but their idol turned out but a calf; an imitation of the divine symbols, the cherubim; or of the sacred bull of Egyptian idolatry. The idolatry was more sinful in view of their recent experience of God's power in Egypt and His wonders at Sinai ( Exodus 32:1-6 ). Though intending to worship Jehovah under the symbol of the calf, yet as this was incompatible with His nature ( Deuteronomy 4:15-17 ), they in reality gave up Him, and so were given up by Him. Instead of the Lord of heaven, they had as their glory the image of an ox that does nothing but eat grass.
23. he said--namely, to Moses ( Deuteronomy 9:13 ). With God, saying is as certain as doing; but His purpose, while full of wrath against sin, takes into account the mediation of Him of whom Moses was the type ( Exodus 32:11-14 Deuteronomy 9:18 Deuteronomy 9:19 ).
Moses his chosen--that is, to be His servant (compare Psalms 105:26 ).
in the breach--as a warrior covers with his body the broken part of a wall or fortress besieged, a perilous place ( Ezekiel 13:5 , 22:30 ).
to turn away--or, "prevent"
his wrath--( Numbers 25:11 , Psalms 78:38 ).
24-27. The sin of refusing to invade Canaan, "the pleasant land" ( Jeremiah 3:19 , Ezekiel 20:6 , Daniel 8:9 ), "the land of beauty," was punished by the destruction of that generation ( Numbers 14:28 ), and the threat of dispersion ( Deuteronomy 4:25 , 28:32 ) afterwards made to their posterity, and fulfilled in the great calamities now bewailed, may have also been then added.
despised--( Numbers 14:31 ).
believed not his word--by which He promised He would give them the land; but rather the word of the faithless spies (compare Psalms 78:22 ).
26. lifted up his hand--or, "swore," the usual form of swearing (compare Numbers 14:30 , Margin).
27. To overthrow--literally, "To make them fall"; alluding to the words ( Numbers 14:39 ).
among . . . nations . . . lands--The "wilderness" was not more destructive to the fathers ( Psalms 106:26 ) than residence among the heathen ("nations") shall be to the children Le 26:33,38 is here, before the Psalmist's mind, the determination against the "seed" when rebellious, being not expressed in Numbers 14:31-33 , but implied in the determination against the fathers.
28-30. sacrifices of the dead--that is of lifeless idols, contrasted with "the living God" ( Jeremiah 10:3-10 ; compare Psalms 115:4-7 1 Corinthians 12:2 ). On the words,
joined themselves to Baal-peor--see Numbers 25:2 Numbers 25:3 Numbers 25:5 .
Baal-peor--that is the possessor of Peor, the mountain on which Chemosh, the idol of Moab, was worshipped, and at the foot of which Israel at the time lay encamped ( Numbers 23:28 ). The name never occurs except in connection with that locality and that circumstance.
29. provoked--excited grief and indignation ( Psalms 6:7 , 78:58 ).
30. stood--as Aaron "stood between the living and the dead, and the plague was stayed" ( Numbers 16:48 ).
executed judgment--literally, "judged," including sentence and act.
31. counted . . . righteousness--"a just and rewardable action."
for--or, "unto," to the procuring of righteousness, as in Romans 4:2 , 10:4 . Here it was a particular act, not faith, nor its object Christ; and what was procured was not justifying righteousness, or what was to be rewarded with eternal life; for no one act of man's can be taken for complete obedience. But it was that which God approved and rewarded with a perpetual priesthood to him and his descendants ( Numbers 25:13 , 1 Chronicles 6:4 , &c.).
32, 33. (Compare Numbers 20:3-12 , Deuteronomy 1:37 , 3:26 ).
went ill with--literally, "was bad for"
Moses--His conduct, though under great provocation, was punished by exclusion from Canaan.
34-39. They not only failed to expel the heathen, as God
commanded--( Exodus 23:32 Exodus 23:33 ), literally, "said (they should)," but conformed to their idolatries ( Psalms 106:36 ) and thus became spiritual adulterers ( Psalms 73:27 ).
37. unto devils--Septuagint, "demons" (compare 1 Corinthians 10:20 ), or "evil spirits."
38. polluted with blood--literally, "blood," or "murder" ( Psalms 5:6 , 26:9 ).
40-43. Those nations first seduced and then oppressed them (compare Judges 1:34 , 2:14 , 3:30 ). Their apostasies ungratefully repaid God's many mercies till He finally abandoned them to punishment ( Leviticus 26:39 ).
44-46. If, as is probable, this Psalm was written at the time of the captivity, the writer now intimates the tokens of God's returning favor.
45. repented--(compare Psalms 90:13 ).
46. made . . . pitied--( 1 Kings 8:50 , Daniel 1:9 ). These tokens encourage the prayer and the promise of praise ( Psalms 30:4 ), which is well closed by a doxology.