Forgetfulness

18 Oct

Psalm 106 focuses on the forgetfulness of God’s people and once again tells the salvation history in a different slant. Israel’s escape from Egypt was always a central theme of telling the God story much the same way that the story of Jesus is central to our salvation story.

As I said, this time the psalms describes the forgetfulness of the people and the faithfulness of God. Again, this is a common theme in scripture and in our lives.

1-3 Hallelujah!
Thank God! And why?
Because he’s good, because his love lasts.
But who on earth can do it—
declaim God’s mighty acts, broadcast all his praises?
You’re one happy man when you do what’s right,
one happy woman when you form the habit of justice.

I like the language for those who are happy. The strength of doing what is right and ‘forming a habit of justice’ is the way to find happiness. I think of the recent stupidity on Capital Hill and think that it proves that not doing what is right or just causes UNhappiness for lots of people

4-5 Remember me, God, when you enjoy your people;
include me when you save them;
I want to see your chosen succeed,
celebrate with your celebrating nation,
join the Hallelujahs of your pride and joy!

6-12 We’ve sinned a lot, both we and our parents;
We’ve fallen short, hurt a lot of people.
After our parents left Egypt,
they took your wonders for granted,
forgot your great and wonderful love.
They were barely beyond the Red Sea
when they defied the High God
—the very place he saved them!
—the place he revealed his amazing power!
He rebuked the Red Sea so that it dried up on the spot
—he paraded them right through!
—no one so much as got wet feet!
He saved them from a life of oppression,
pried them loose from the grip of the enemy.
Then the waters flowed back on their oppressors;
there wasn’t a single survivor.
Then they believed his words were true
and broke out in songs of praise.

The thing that the psalmist says is wrong with the people is that they have forgotten God’s faithfulness in saving the people. One of my favorite quotes from Richard Foster is “Noise and distraction is not of the devil, it is the devil”. I am not big on talking about evil or the devil, but I think when we allow ourselves to live distracted lives that are not grounded in God, we distance ourselves from God and the grace and peace God wants to share with us.

13-18 But it wasn’t long before they forgot the whole thing,
wouldn’t wait to be told what to do.
They only cared about pleasing themselves in that desert,
provoked God with their insistent demands.
He gave them exactly what they asked for—
but along with it they got an empty heart.
One day in camp some grew jealous of Moses,
also of Aaron, holy priest of God.
The ground opened and swallowed Dathan,
then buried Abiram’s gang.
Fire flared against that rebel crew
and torched them to a cinder.

The line that stands out for me, is that they only cared about pleasing themselves. It is sure fire way to be unhappy and unlovable to focus on ourselves, our wants, our wishes, our own way. Perhaps it is the truth of being a social people that we must be aware and accountable to others to be truly fulfilled ourselves.

19-22 They cast in metal a bull calf at Horeb
and worshiped the statue they’d made.
They traded the Glory
for a cheap piece of sculpture—a grass-chewing bull!
They forgot God, their very own Savior,
who turned things around in Egypt,
Who created a world of wonders in the Land of Ham,
who gave that stunning performance at the Red Sea.

The psalmist says that the people traded God for a cheap imitation. We the holidays fast approaching, I wonder if we substitute all the frantic holiday preparation, for the longer of the Messiah alive in our lives. We forget which one is the authentic gift.

The next 22 verses tell of God’s anger with the people and Moses continuing to try to lead the people. These psalms have been long, detail attempts to get the people to understand that the mess that they are in with other countries having rule over them stems from their forgetfulness of God’s saving power. I often wonder how much misery and pain we bring on ourselves and others because we forget the power of God to redeem us and love us and sustain us.

The psalmist ended this ‘history lesson’ with the affirmation of God’s faithfulness. The Psalms tell us again and again and again, no matter what kind of trouble we have gotten ourselves into, no matter how long we have forgotten the power of God which has given us life, God is ready to remember us and the covenant God has made with the people. As with any parent, God’s overwhelming desire is to have a loving, growing, and meaningful relationship with God’s children. You are one of those children of God. Enjoy God’s presence today.

44-46 Still, when God saw the trouble they were in
and heard their cries for help,
He remembered his Covenant with them,
and, immense with love, took them by the hand.
He poured out his mercy on them
while their captors looked on, amazed.

47 Save us, God, our God!
Gather us back out of exile
So we can give thanks to your holy name
and join in the glory when you are praised!

48 Blessed be God, Israel’s God!
Bless now, bless always!
Oh! Let everyone say Amen!
Hallelujah!

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