Psalm 106

The Word Made Fresh

1Praise the LORD!
Give thanks to the LORD, who is good,
and whose steadfast love never ends.
2Who can tell the great things the LORD has done,
or lift up praise for all of it?
3Those who practice justice
and who always do what is right are honored.
4Remember me, LORD, when you come to the aid of your people.
Help me when you rescue them.
5Then I can see how your chosen people prosper
and share their joy and honor your heritage.
6All of us, including our ancestors, have sinned.
We have done wicked things that shouldn’t be done.
7When our ancestors were in Egypt
they paid little attention to the wonderful things you did.
They didn’t remember how great is your love for them,
and they turned against you at the Sea of Reeds.
8But for the sake of God’s name they were rescued
and God’s mighty power was evident.
9The LORD reprimanded the sea, and it became dry ground.
God led them through it as if it were just a desert.
10And so, God saved them from their enemy,
and they were rescued from their foe.
11The waters covered their enemies. Not one remained.
12Then they believed what the LORD had told them,
and began to sing God’s praises.
13But it wasn’t long before they forgot what the LORD had done,
and stopped consulting the LORD for guidance.
14Their cravings in the wilderness got the best of them,
and there they tested God.
15God gave them what they demanded,
but then sent a contagious illness among them.
16They soon became jealous of Moses and Aaron,
whom God had chosen to lead them.
17So, the ground opened up and swallowed Dathan,
and covered up Abiram’s followers.
18Then fire broke out among them
and burned up the wicked ones.
19They made a calf at Horeb.
They worshiped a manmade idol.
20They turned away from God,
and turned to an image of an ox that eats grass.
21They forgot the God who had rescued them,
and the great things God had done for them in Egypt.
22God performed mighty deeds in the land of Ham,
and an awesome rescue at the Sea of Reeds.
23God threatened to destroy them,
but Moses, whom God had appointed,
stood between them, and God relented,
and did not harm them.
24Then they began to despise the beautiful land,
because they had no faith in God’s promise to give it to them.
25They complained in their tents and disobeyed the LORD’s voice.
26So, the LORD’s hand was raised against them,
and God swore that they would collapse in the wilderness,
27and their children scattered among the nations roundabout.
28Then they began to cling to the Baal of Peor.
They ate sacrifices that had been offered to the dead.
29They did things that made the LORD very angry,
and a plague broke out among them.
30But Phinehas interceded for them
and the plague left them.
31That is why Phinehas has been honored as a righteous man,
and always will be, from generation to generation.
32They made the LORD angry at the waters of Meribah,
and Moses suffered on their account
33because they made him bitter,
and he spoke harshly to them.
34They did not destroy all the people of the land
as the LORD had commanded them.
35They mingled with those people and copied their customs.
36They even worshiped their idols,
and that became a trap for them.
37They sacrificed their children to the demons.
38They spilled the blood of the innocents –
the blood of their own sons and daughters
was poured out to the idols of the Canaanites,
and the land was fouled with their blood.
39They performed filthy rituals
and prostituted themselves in the process.
40Then the LORD’s anger rose against them,
and God hated God’s own heritage,
41and turned them over to the nations around them
so that they were ruled by people who hated them.
42Their enemies lorded it over them
and subjected them under their power.
43Many times God had rescued them, but they rebelled.
They were brought down through their own sinfulness.
44Even so, the LORD took note of their distress
when their cry rose up.
45And God remembered the covenant,
and became compassionate toward them again.
46God made all their captors have mercy on them.
47Rescue us, O LORD our God!
Gather us in from among the nations
and we will praise and give thanks to your holy name.
48Let the LORD, the God of Israel, be honored,
now and forevermore.
And let the people say, ‘Amen!’
Praise the LORD!


1-3: Psalm 106 begins positively enough with a call to praise and a word of reassurance for those who are faithful.

4-5: The psalmist pauses to issue a personal plea for God to remember him when their deliverance comes; a hint that all is not well.

6-12: Aha! All is not well. Sin is at the root of the problem as is so often the case. The author confesses that “all of us, including our ancestors, have sinned.” Then he begins the tabulation of their transgressions. In contrast to Psalm 105:37-38 which gave no hint of any wrongdoing, there is no glossing over in Psalm 106. Here nearly every trespass is catalogued (though not in strict chronological order). They rebelled against God at the Sea of Reeds? Yes, according to the story of the crossing (Exodus 14:10-12) they complained that Moses had brought them out to die. (The “Sea of Reeds” is an alternate reference to the Red Sea. We think.)

13-15: These verses seem to refer to the episode of the quail God sent into the camp when the people complained of having no meat (see Numbers 11:33).

16-18: These verses refer to the revolt of Dathan and Abiram (see Numbers 16).

19-23: The golden calf apostasy is recorded in Exodus 32.

24-27: This appears to be a reference to the story of the refusal of the people to go in and possess the land after the spies returned with a negative report (see Numbers 13, 14).

28-31: Numbers 25 tells the story of the influence of the Baal of Peor and the intervention of Phinehas, Aaron’s son.

32-33: In Numbers 20:1-13 we read the story of the waters of Meribah where Moses brought water out of a rock after the people complained; but he did so in such a way that God was angered and decided that Moses and Aaron would not enter the Promised Land.

34-39: The Promised Land was never completely secured until the time of David, and there are many accounts of the Israelites being lured into the various religious cults of the Canaanites.

40-46: These verses briefly summarize the history of the nations of Judah and Israel. The emphasis is on God’s repeated acts of rescue and restoration in spite of the sins of the people.

47: The psalm ends with a prayer for a new ingathering of the people of Israel from “among the nations,” indicating that the kingdoms of Judah and Israel have been overrun and the people scattered and exiled.

48: When the psalms were later arranged into five “collections” or “books,” the transition from one collection to another was signaled by adding at the end of the last psalm in each collection a verse which blesses God and acknowledges God’s eternal rule. The first 4 collections each end with a similar expression (compare 41:13, 72:18-19, 89:52, and 106:48), and the last (Psalm 150) with a hymn of praise.


God is faithful even when we are not, but God’s patience goes only so far. Then God may turn away and let us suffer the consequences of our folly. Today is a good time to remember the foolish things we’ve done and thank God for forgiving us.