The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Psalm 106

Psa 106:1

See Lesson, Psalms, "Hallelujah".

V 1: Yahweh is a God who keeps His promises, even though (as this psalm emphasizes) His people prove unworthy of His kindness.

Psa 106:3

BLESSED: The "Beatitudes" in the Psalms: Psa 1:1; 2:12; 32:1,2; 33:12; 34:8; 40:4; 41:1; 65:4; 84:4,5,12; 89:15; 94:12; 106:3; 112:1; 118:26; 119:1,2; 128:1,4.

Psa 106:5

THAT I MAY SHARE IN THE JOY OF YOUR NATION: The Heb word "goy" means Gentile. God's people become "Gentiles" in their faithlessness. Perhaps vv 4,5 were inserted by Hezekiah, to commemorate the return of northern tribes to true worship of Jerusalem (2Ch 30:1-12; 1Ki 8:46-48).

Psa 106:6

Lit, "we have sinned WITH our fathers" (AV): the doctrine of corporate responsibility: "By one man's disobedience many were made sinners" (Rom 5:19). "As in Adam all die" (1Co 15:22). The Bible has many examples of this: eg Daniel's sustained use of "we, us" in Dan 9:5-19; Nehemiah's comparable confession (1:6,7); 1Ki 8:31-53; Ezr 9:6; 1Ch 15:13; 21:13; 2Sa 21:1; Isa 59:8,9; Jer 3:25; Mat 18:25; 23:35,36; and esp Rom 5:12-21. There can be no disowning of the sin of the community of which one is a member. This is an important principle which still holds for the New Israel, despite its having been called in question during certain controversies, and despite the extremes of "block disfellowship" practiced in some Chdn circles.

According to the rabbis, this is an ascending order embodying all poss sins: (1) sins against oneself; (2) sins against one's neighbor; and (3) sins against God. The same formula of three terms occurs in Solomon's prayer (1Ki 8:47) and Daniel's (9:5). These three dreadful words do not occur again in this psalm; but instead, what a catalogue there is! Note the descriptive words which follow: "provoked" (v 7), "forgat, waited not" (v 13), "lusted, tempted" (v 14), "envied" (v 16), "forgat" (v 21), "despised, believed not" (v 24), "murmured, hearkened not" (v 25), "provoked" (v 29), "provoked" (v 33), "went a whoring" (v 39), and "provoked" (v 43) again.

Psa 106:7

They "were rebellious" (RV), even before they were out of Egypt: Exo 14:11,12; cp vv. 33,43 here.

Psa 106:8

FOR HIS NAME'S SAKE: That is, for the sake of His promises to their fathers (Psa 105:42).

Psa 106:9

REBUKED: Sw Mat 8:26. Cp also Psa 65:7; 89:9; 93:3,4; 107:23-30.

Psa 106:10

SAVED: The Heb "ga'al" sig the act of a near-kinsman.

Psa 106:13

THEY SOON FORGOT: Exo 32:8. Lit, "they made haste to forget" (AV mg), that is, they wanted to forget! After the mighty works of Exo 14:21; 15:1 there came (starting only three days later! -- Exo 15:22) the grumblings of Exo 15:24; 16:2; 17:2; etc.

"Their problem was forgetting. And forgetting came because of lack of understanding and of a deep intelligent impression. Day after day they witnessed the results of God's mighty power on their behalf, and therefore lived by sight. But the impression made upon their animal minds was faint and superficial. They gobbled and grunted when He filled the trough, and squeaked and squealed when He did not, but they never really knew Him" (GAG).

AND DID NOT WAIT FOR HIS COUNSEL: Referring to the people's impatience at Moses' absence: see Exo 32:1. Here "counsel" means not only the Decalogue but also the other details of the Law which were to govern their lives.

Psa 106:14

Lit, "they lusted a lust" (Num 11:4, sw). What a dramatic ct there is in Luk 22:15, where sw (and Heb idiom) is used by Jesus: "With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer."

THEY PUT GOD TO THE TEST: There is no contradiction with Jam 1:13. God cannot be tempted to do evil; rather, His patience was "tested" (RSV) (cp Psa 78:18,41,56; 95:9).

Psa 106:15

Remarkably, the LXX has "fatness" (with ref to the excess of quails in Num 11:20,32?) instead of "a wasting disease". If, however, "a wasting disease" is correct, the ref is to Num 11:33.

Psa 106:16

CONSECRATED: Recalls the complaint against Moses and Aaron: that they had made themselves the "holy" or elite ones, when in fact the whole congregation could lay claim to that title (Num 16:3-5).

Psa 106:19

AT HOREB THEY MADE A CALF: Act 7:41, emphasizing that this happened in the very place where the 10 Commandments were given (Exo 20:4,5; Deu 4:16).

Psa 106:20

WHICH EATS GRASS: There is a withering contempt in those last three words. In the Tabernacle the cherubim of glory were prob in the form of oxen (as they were in Solomon's Temple: cp with 1Ki 7:25,29,44; 2Ch 4:3,4,15; WBS 170,181). The usual explanation that the golden calf was an imitation of Egypt's idol Apis is a commentator's fantasy. Furthermore, "These are your gods" (Exo 32:4,5) seems to require more than one ox, which accords well with the plural figures of the cherubim, but not with the singular "god" of Egypt.

THEY EXCHANGED THEIR GLORY: Quoted in Rom. 1:23. Ignorant Gentiles cannot change the Glory of God into any human or animal pattern, for the simple reason that they have never properly known the Glory of God in the first place. But this statement is lit true of Israel. This point, and several others, suggest that the common assessment of Rom 1 -- ie that it is describing the depravity of the Gentile world -- needs to be rethought (see Psa 81; WBS 305-308).

Psa 106:23

MOSES... STOOD IN THE BREACH: See Exo 32:9-14,30-35.

Moses did not seek to disavow the sins of the community over which God had placed him (cp v 6 here), but rather sought to take total responsibility for those sins. He stood fearlessly at the place where the line of defense had been broken, as a last protecting barrier for the nation helplessly at risk because of their sins. This is "the good shepherd" laying down his life for the sheep (Joh 10:11,15); it is the yearning of Paul to save his fellow-Israelites, even at his own expense (Rom 9:3). And it is David's desire to be punished for the sins of the nation (2Sa 24:17). But all of these -- stirring examples though they be -- are but inadequate previews or echoes of the one and only great sacrifice, by which the Man Christ Jesus stood in the breach (cp Eze 22:30), and redeemed all his sinful brethren (Psa 49:7; Isa 59:16,17; Mar 10:45; Mat 20:28; Tit 2:14; Heb 9:12,15; 1Ti 2:6; 1Pe 1:18,19).

Psa 106:24

They relinquished all desire for the Land of Promise, by ignoring the reports of Joshua and Caleb (Num 14:31).

Psa 106:25

Quoting Deu 1:27, where to the one sin of grumbling is added the other of blasphemy.

Psa 106:26

2 oaths of God: for harm (Num 14:28,30) and for good (Num 14:21).

Psa 106:27

This language -- "the nations"... "the lands" -- clearly calls for a much wider application than that which ensued after Num 14. In fact, it appears to be quoting Moses' own warning of later days: Lev 26:33-38; Deu 28:64-68. And so it is quoted later by Ezekiel: see Eze 20:23.

Psa 106:28

Num 25: The word "yoked" suggests the sin fornication (cp Paul in 1Co 6:16-18 and 2Co 6:14-17). The ref to "the dead" (AV) is either to the worship of dead idols (as NIV), called "No-gods", or to the worship of departed spirits and the belief in the immortality of the soul (v 37, notes; Deu 32:17; cp 1Co 8:4,5; Isa 8:19; Deu 18:9-11).

Psa 106:30

INTERVENED: "Made atonement" (LXX), ie, by "sacrifice" of the offending "worshipers" (Num 25:7-11).

Psa 106:31

Such exceptional statements are made of only two men -- Abraham is the other (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3,9,22; Jam 2:23). And it is of course true also of all those who are "in Abraham" (Rom 4:24,25).

Psa 106:33

THEY REBELLED AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF GOD: This should prob be read as "God's Spirit", with ref to the Angel of the Lord (cp Isa 63:9,10).

AND RASH WORDS CAME FROM MOSES' LIPS: No implication of reprobation behind the word translated "rash"; rather it means "emphatically". The reprobation is in the phrase: "with his lips", in the sense of "his own lips" instead of "with God's guidance": "Hear now, ye rebels, must we [Moses and Aaron -- not Moses and God] fetch you water out of the rock?" (Num 20:10).

Psa 106:34

Jdg 1:27-29; 2:14-22 is an extended commentary on this and the next nine vv.

Psa 106:37

DEMONS: "Shedim" (transl "devils" in AV). Sig "destroyers", a play on the name of the Almighty: "Shaddai". Instead of God-blessed fruitfulness, they chose a gross parody: the Canaanite fertility cults, and what would bring their spiritual destruction. Both occurrences of "shedim" in LXX are translated by "daimonion" in the NT: ref to idols and not to any disembodied "spirits". In this sense the NT occasionally uses "daimonion" (1Co 10:20,21; Rev 9:20; 1Ti 4:1).

Psa 106:45

FOR THEIR SAKE HE REMEMBERED HIS COVENANT: What a moving ct with vv 13,21! "Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee" (Isa 48:15).

AND OUT OF HIS GREAT LOVE HE RELENTED: But of course God does not "repent" in the lit sense of the term. He is not a man that He should repent (1Sa 15:29). Then why does Scripture use this kind of language so often about Him? The only alternative to asserting, time and again, that the words of the Bible do not mean what they say, is to accept that God uses this kind of terminology because He wants His people to think of Him in this way. This is what is best for them. (For fuller details on this theme, see WRev 271, 272.)

Psa 106:47

This v invites comparison with 1Ki 8:49,50. One fulfillment of this desired deliverance from captivity was in Ezra and Nehemiah; but such Scriptures as Isa 49:8-26 indicate that the massive captivity rounded up by Sennacherib (as described in the Taylor Prism) had an early and happy release, thanks to the unquenchable faith of Hezekiah.

Psa 106:48

This "doxology" concludes Book 4 of the Psalms.

FROM EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING: Spoken by all the people (amim = Israel, all of them!). "And so all Israel shall be saved" (Rom 11:26,27; Isa 59:20; Jer 31:31), but only when their sins are forgiven and the Messiah comes.

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