Psalm 106 Study Notes


106:1-48 While Ps 105 focuses on trust, Ps 106 emphasizes repentance. The absence of conflict between the northern and southern kingdoms suggests a setting for this psalm during the united monarchy. It consists of a historical chronology of the exodus and conquest.

106:1 Hallelujah! occurs twenty-three times in the OT. It means “praise Yahweh!” The rest of the verse is found also in 107:1; 118:1,29; 136:1; 1Ch 16:34.

106:2 God’s incomparable works reveal his glory (19:1-2).

106:3 The consequences of the Lord’s relationship with Israel include community peace and the integrity of its individual members who practiced righteousness.

106:4-5 This prayer for personal inclusion in God’s upcoming saving act is somewhat unusual, although Nehemiah also asks God to remember me (Neh 5:19).

106:6 The combining of “we” with “they” turns what would be an indictment into a confession. “The modern singer of the psalm has to do the same. The Israelites are our ecclesiastical forbears; their sins are our own writ large” (Derek Kidner).

106:7 Israel stubbornly refused to recognize God’s miraculous works (Ex 4:1,8; 6:9; 14:11) and rebelled instead.

106:8 The true theme of this psalm as praise for God’s grace comes through in this verse.

106:9 The parting of the Red Sea occurred during Israel’s departure from Egypt (104:7; 114:3; Ex 14:21-22; Is 63:13).

106:10 The adversary is literally “the one who hated.”

106:11-12 Compare these verses with Ex 14:28-15:1.

106:13 In v. 4 the psalmist asked God to “remember” him, yet Israel continually forgot God (Dt 4:9,23,31; 6:12; 9:7; 25:19; 32:18). Although the Lord supplied all their needs, they grew impatient in the wilderness.

106:14 Israel became greedy in the wilderness (Nm 11:31-34). On tested God, see note at 95:8-9 (cp. Ex 17:2,7; Dt 6:16).

106:15 God granted Israel’s request, only to send a plague (possibly consumption) as a response to their rebellious attitude.

106:16-18 The Israelites grew envious (Hb qana’ ) of Moses and Aaron (Nm 16:1-14,31-39). The Hebrew word often refers to God’s righteous jealousy on behalf of his name (Ex 20:5; 34:14; Ezk 39:25). As the Lord’s holy one, Aaron served as the first anointed high priest.


Hebrew pronunciation [yah SHAH]
CSB translation save, deliver, rescue
Uses in Psalms 57
Uses in the OT 205
Focus passage Psalm 106:8,10,21,47

Yasha‘ in causative verbs denotes save (Ex 14:30), deliver (Jdg 3:31), and rescue (Dt 22:27). Passive-reflexive verbs give passive ideas: be saved (Ps 80:3). Yasha‘ signifies give (Dt 20:4), win (Ps 98:1), bring (Ps 44:3), or accomplish (Is 63:5) victory. It is help (Lm 4:17), preserve (Ps 36:6), and spare (Jos 22:22). It can be avenge (1Sm 25:26). God makes victorious (1Ch 18:6). The passive-reflexive connotes be safe (Ps 119:117). Causative participles mean savior (Ps 17:7) or deliverer (Jdg 3:15); passive-reflexive ones imply saved and victorious (Zch 9:9). Yasha‘ appears several times with related yeshu‘ah (78x) and teshu‘ah (34x). Yeshu‘ah means salvation (Gn 49:18), deliverance (1Sm 14:45), help (Ps 3:2), and victory (Is 26:18); teshu‘ah does too (resp., Is 45:17; Pr 11:14; Ps 60:11; Jdg 15:18). Yeshu‘ah also suggests saving act (Ps 74:12) and prosperity (Jb 30:15), while teshu‘ah connotes safety (Ps 33:17).

106:19-20 Israel replaced God’s glory with a manmade image (Ex 32; Dt 9:12). The unique relationship that Yahweh had shared with the Israelites had served as a testimony to the other nations. Israel eliminated the one thing that distinguished them from all other peoples. The sin of idolatry is cited in this psalm as the single most significant breach of covenant fidelity.

106:21-22 There is something remarkable about the words they forgot God, considering who he is and the wonders he has done.

106:23 Moses stood before God in the breach, mediating on behalf of the wayward people in the wilderness and offering his life to prevent their destruction (105:26; Ex 32:10-11,31). Compare Ps 106:19-23 with Dt 9:8-21.

106:24-27 Rather than following the reports of Joshua and Caleb about the inhabitants of the land of Canaan, Israel showed a lack of trust and rejected the promised land (78:59,67; Nm 11:20; 14:11). Consequently, Israel’s descendants experienced exile and dispersion (Lv 26:33; Dt 4:26-27; 28:64-65; Ezk 20:23). Compare Ps 106:24-27 with Nm 13:25-14:45; Dt 1:21-33.

106:28-31 Israel participated in a fertility cult at Peor in Moab, further endangering their relationship with the Lord. Over twenty-four thousand died from the plague that resulted (Nm 25:1-9). In later Scripture, Baal of Peor symbolizes apostasy (Hs 9:10). Phinehas demonstrated faith by his zeal for God, and God counted it as righteousness to him and to all who follow his example (see Gn 15:6).

106:32-33 The rebellion at Meribah (81:7; 95:8; Ex 17:1-7; Nm 20:2-13) provided the catalyst for Moses’s sin of presumption (Nm 8-13). As a result, he did not enter Canaan.

106:34-38 The Israelites were instructed to annihilate all the inhabitants of the cities they conquered (Ex 34:11; Dt 7:1; 20:16; Jdg 1:21; 2:3), but they failed to do so. Consequently they intermarried with foreigners and adopted many of their idolatrous practices, including infant sacrifice (see Lv 18:21; 2Kg 16:3; 21:6; 23:10). God’s faithfulness to his divine promise and covenant was met with infidelity by Israel (Ex 23:32).

106:39-40 Israel’s abominations rendered the people and the land of Canaan ritually and ethically unclean, thus unacceptable to the Lord.

106:41-44 The Lord allowed the oppression of Israel by other nations as divine judgment. The goal was discipline and restoration to divine favor (Jdg 2:14; 3:1). The book of Judges recounts the repeated cycle of disobedience, oppression, entreaty, and restoration.

106:45-46 The Lord remembered (v. 4; see note at 25:6-7) the Abrahamic covenant and exercised compassion on the basis of his covenant love and mercy (105:8,42; Jdg 2:18; Jl 2:13; Jnh 4:2). In his sovereignty, he caused the captors to show compassion toward his people (2Kg 25:27-30).

106:47-48 The psalmist appealed to God’s saving acts toward Israel as the grounds for imploring the Lord to gather and restore the nation once again (see 1Ch 16:35-36; Is 61:7-14). Every book of the Psalms ends with praise (see note at 41:13).