Why is it so easy for us to forget the victories and miracles of our past when faced with the troubles of today? In yesterday’s reading, the Psalmist narrated Israel’s history with an emphasis on God’s faithfulness. Today’s reading continues with a different emphasis.
This psalm was likely written during the exile to Babylon which had created a crisis of faith for many in Israel. God had judged them as a nation. They asked, “How should we respond to His judgment?” The psalm begins by offering praise to the Lord (v. 1). The Psalmist declares that he is going to recite God’s “mighty acts” (v. 2). We are prepared for the recital of the miracles God performed for Israel. In a sense, that is exactly what the Psalmist does, describing the exodus from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the conquest of the Promised Land. However, this time the emphasis is not so much on the miracles, but on how Israel responded. Israel consistently fell into unbelief. After the miracle of the Red Sea, the psalmist laments, “[B]ut they soon forgot what he had done” (v. 13). Israel failed to enter the Promised Land right away because “they did not believe his promise” (v. 24). After the conquest of the Land, Israel worshiped idols, sacrificed their children to false gods, and “shed innocent blood” (vv. 34–39).
Despite all this, God was patient. He judged them in order to bring about their repentance. Again and again, God offered grace. But Israel’s sin culminated in the Exile (v. 47). The Psalmist calls Israel to repent and to praise God for His faithfulness, even while longing for deliverance (vv. 47–48).
>> This month’s study covers joyful moments and times of utter despair. Yet, through every circumstance, God always shows His faithfulness. This is our third study of the Book of Psalms, and in 2022 we will conclude with the final chapters. To review the previous studies of Psalms, go back to September, 2019 for Book 1, and to October, 2020 for Book 2. Thank you for spending time in God’s Word with us.
Lord God, we hesitate to judge Israel for their unfaithfulness, because we so often fall into unbelief ourselves. We praise You that our salvation depends on Your faithfulness to us. May we grow ever more faithful to You. Amen.