Today’s Bible reading is Psalm 106. It’s a look back at some sad moments in Israel’s history. As we read it, we might naturally feel as if we’re being led through the long hallway of a museum. Picture after picture, scene after scene depicts the shortcomings and failures of other people.
- In Exodus 14, Israel resisted being shaped by God’s wondrous works and steadfast love (106:7-12)
- In Numbers 11, these descendants of Abraham allowed unrestrained cravings to override their willingness to wait for God’s counsel (106:13-15)
- In Numbers 16, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram led many into rebellion out of jealousy and selfish ambition (106:16-18)
- In Exodus 32, Israel exchanged the glory of God for something they could make (106:19-23)
- In Numbers 14, they didn’t believe God’s promises and refused to follow his lead (106:24-27)
- In Numbers 25, a great many “yoked” themselves to blatant immorality (106:28-31)
- In Numbers 20, the people complained in the face of God’s faithfulness (106:32-33)
- In the opening chapters of Judges, Israel settled for half-measures and compromised standards (106:34-39)
- Throughout the era of the Judges, generation after generation took God’s deliverance for granted (106:40-43)
There’s a lot of “they” and “them” throughout this ancient poem, so it’s easy to treat Psalm 106 like a long walk through the dark, dusty wing of a museum. Spend a few minutes passing through, read the captions, shake your head at the foolishness of people who lived a long time ago, and move on to something else.
But to treat Psalm 106 as a museum gallery of the past is to miss the point. It’s not just “they” and “them,” it’s “we” and “us.”
Both we and our fathers have sinned;
we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness. (106:6)
Save us, O LORD our God… (106:47)
In fact, it hits even closer to home than “we” and “us.” It’s “me.”
Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people;
help me when you save them… (106:4)
Here’s a valuable lesson for us, even thousands of years later. Don’t treat God’s word like a museum. People easily walk through museums, observe, and leave, unchanged. It was nothing more than “they” and “them.”
When you open the Bible, treat it like a mirror (James 1:22-25). We look in mirrors to study, learn, and be transformed. “They” becomes “we” ultimately becomes “me.”
And that’s why a 3,000-year-old psalm is still worth reading:
- I need to be shaped by his wondrous works and steadfast love
- I must guard against allowing unrestrained cravings to override my willingness to wait for his counsel
- I am called to act from a heart of humility and kindness
- I must resist the temptation to seek anything or anyone above God and his glory
- I must choose to trust his promises and follow his lead
- I will present my body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God
- I will rejoice and express thanksgiving for his faithfulness and wisdom
- I will respect his authority and express my love by keeping his commandments
- I will appreciate the riches of his kindness and patience and grace, understanding that they are meant to lead me to repentance
God is still good (106:1). His steadfast love continues to endure forever (106:1). This God of “mighty deeds” (106:2) continues to bless those who observe justice and do righteousness” (106:3). He remembers and helps his people (106:4-5). He is worthy of your praise and my praise (106:1), even today.
All of that begins to become clear when we look in the mirror.