It seems obvious to the consistent reader of the Psalms that Psalms 105 and 106 were designed as a couplet. Psalm 105 focuses on God’s faithfulness to his people, more or less from the time of Abraham till the settling in the Promised Land. Psalm 106, on the other hand, focuses on the people’s faithlessness to God, roughly from the exodus to the exile. We will briefly consider some lessons from Psalm 106 next time; for now we turn our attention to Psalm 105.
This psalm is, in essence, a recollection of God’s faithfulness to his people in generations past, which is meant to drive the people to praise. As they remembered his grace to their forefathers, the people of Israel were meant to praise God. The psalmist opens with a call to praise (vv. 1–7) before recalling God’s covenant with Abraham (vv. 8–15), his providence in Joseph’s story (vv. 16–22), Moses’ ministry to the people in the exodus (vv. 23–28), and divine provision in the wilderness (vv. 39–41). The closing verses (vv. 42–45) are, in essence, the writer’s theological commentary on these events and a closing call to praise the Lord.
It is significant that, when he wanted to call his fellow Israelites to praise the Lord, he reminded them of God’s past kindness to them. God’s people had experienced a great deal of hardship, much of it of their own doing (see Psalm 106), but the writer does not, at least not here, want them to dwell on that. Remembering their own faithlessness, as we will see in Psalm 106, serves its own purpose, but they needed to remember God’s kindness to them if they would be driven to praise.
As human beings, we have a tendency to focus on the negative—to elevate our trials and afflictions above God’s kindnesses to us. We are driven to our knees in times of affliction to plead with him for deliverance. This is appropriate. The Scriptures command us to pray when we are in need of mercy. The Scriptures tell us that we don’t experience provision because we don’t ask for it.
At the same time, we have a tendency to quickly forget how kind God has been to us. As we pray for deliverance from affliction, we forget how he has delivered us in the past. As we pray for necessary provision, we forget that he has always faithfully provided for us in the past. And forgetting minimises our praise. Conversely, there is a direct connection between remembering what God has done for us and praising him for his goodness. Remembering drives worship.
We are often tempted to think that if we only saw God’s obvious displays of power as the Israelites did, we would not forget. We would not forget the parting of the Red Sea. We would not forget the pillar of cloud and fire. We would not forget the miraculous provision of manna and quail. We would certainly never forget water gushing from a rock. But we would! We are as prone to forget as Israel was. And we need to remember as urgently as they did.
The last couple of years have been hard. Many have faced affliction and sorrow. The declarations at the outset of 2020 that it was “my year” quickly faded. We have learned, among other things, not to always expect, wealth, health, and prosperity as we may have been prone to do previously.
At the same time, God has been kind to us. Don’t allow the challenges of recent years to strip your memory of God’s kindness toward you. Do the hard work of remembering his mercy to you, and let your remembrance drive you to praise.