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Can you remember a time when you were overwhelmed by God’s love, and another time when you were so deeply ashamed that you could not recognise it? Thank God for his never-ending love.

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Bible passage Psalm 106

Psalm 106

 1 Praise the LORD.
       Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
       his love endures forever.

 2 Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORD
       or fully declare his praise?

 3 Blessed are they who maintain justice,
       who constantly do what is right.

 4 Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people,
       come to my aid when you save them,

 5 that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones,
       that I may share in the joy of your nation
       and join your inheritance in giving praise.

 6 We have sinned, even as our fathers did;
       we have done wrong and acted wickedly.

 7 When our fathers were in Egypt,
       they gave no thought to your miracles;
       they did not remember your many kindnesses,
       and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea.

 8 Yet he saved them for his name's sake,
       to make his mighty power known.

 9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up;
       he led them through the depths as through a desert.

 10 He saved them from the hand of the foe;
       from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them.

 11 The waters covered their adversaries;
       not one of them survived.

 12 Then they believed his promises
       and sang his praise.

 13 But they soon forgot what he had done
       and did not wait for his counsel.

 14 In the desert they gave in to their craving;
       in the wasteland they put God to the test.

 15 So he gave them what they asked for,
       but sent a wasting disease upon them.

 16 In the camp they grew envious of Moses
       and of Aaron, who was consecrated to the LORD.

 17 The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan;
       it buried the company of Abiram.

 18 Fire blazed among their followers;
       a flame consumed the wicked.

 19 At Horeb they made a calf
       and worshiped an idol cast from metal.

 20 They exchanged their Glory
       for an image of a bull, which eats grass.

 21 They forgot the God who saved them,
       who had done great things in Egypt,

 22 miracles in the land of Ham
       and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.

 23 So he said he would destroy them—
       had not Moses, his chosen one,
       stood in the breach before him
       to keep his wrath from destroying them.

 24 Then they despised the pleasant land;
       they did not believe his promise.

 25 They grumbled in their tents
       and did not obey the LORD.

 26 So he swore to them with uplifted hand
       that he would make them fall in the desert,

 27 make their descendants fall among the nations
       and scatter them throughout the lands.

 28 They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor
       and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods;

 29 they provoked the LORD to anger by their wicked deeds,
       and a plague broke out among them.

 30 But Phinehas stood up and intervened,
       and the plague was checked.

 31 This was credited to him as righteousness
       for endless generations to come.

 32 By the waters of Meribah they angered the LORD,
       and trouble came to Moses because of them;

 33 for they rebelled against the Spirit of God,
       and rash words came from Moses' lips.

 34 They did not destroy the peoples
       as the LORD had commanded them,

 35 but they mingled with the nations
       and adopted their customs.

 36 They worshiped their idols,
       which became a snare to them.

 37 They sacrificed their sons
       and their daughters to demons.

 38 They shed innocent blood,
       the blood of their sons and daughters,
       whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
       and the land was desecrated by their blood.

 39 They defiled themselves by what they did;
       by their deeds they prostituted themselves.

 40 Therefore the LORD was angry with his people
       and abhorred his inheritance.

 41 He handed them over to the nations,
       and their foes ruled over them.

 42 Their enemies oppressed them
       and subjected them to their power.

 43 Many times he delivered them,
       but they were bent on rebellion
       and they wasted away in their sin.

 44 But he took note of their distress
       when he heard their cry;

 45 for their sake he remembered his covenant
       and out of his great love he relented.

 46 He caused them to be pitied
       by all who held them captive.

 47 Save us, O LORD our God,
       and gather us from the nations,
       that we may give thanks to your holy name
       and glory in your praise.

 48 Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,
       from everlasting to everlasting.
       Let all the people say, "Amen!"
       Praise the LORD.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Explore the Bible

Do we ever learn from mistakes? How easily we choose to forget past events when it suits us, whether intentionally or not. The psalmist confidently gives thanks to God for his goodness, but then begins a lengthy reflection on what Israel chose to forget as they wandered in the desert. It makes for miserable reading!

Read this psalm again and count just how many times they forgot, how many times they disobeyed God, and how many times God continued to overshadow them with his loving protection. Notice too that at times he got angry, seriously angry.

Moses stood in the breach, interceding for the people after they had worshipped the golden calf. They were saved (vs 20–23 – see Exodus 32). The priest Phinehas, Moses’ nephew, intervened when they had worshipped Moabite gods. The plague of judgement ceased (vs 28–31 – see Numbers 25).

They did many evil things but it would appear that, at least twice, worshipping a God-substitute provoked God’s anger such that a human intervention was called for before his mercy could prevail. Supremely, Christ himself, our great High Priest, intervened on our behalf to reconcile us to God.


Have you ever set your heart on something or someone that has become a God-substitute? What helped you remember that God’s covenant love was reaching out to you?

Ro Willoughby

Deeper Bible study

‘O sing unto the Lord a new song: for he hath done marvellous things.’1

Ancient societies sang their history, as do old surviving cultures today such as Aboriginal Australians. Traditional, pre-literate people knew to rehearse their history in song and dance, ensuring that the next generation took a knowledge of their past into their future. In today’s high-tech societies, both in Asia and the West, people are becoming ignorant of their past and the events that shaped them. As today’s psalm powerfully proclaims, there are crucial lessons to be learned from the past. Philosopher George Santayana first coined the saying that those who do not know their past are condemned to repeat it.

The psalmist understood this. Some psalms, including last Sunday’s, celebrate God’s power and faithfulness in his great saving acts of the past (Psalms 105,136). Today’s psalm remorselessly catalogues not the glories but the sins of Israel’s past, by using words like ‘forget’, ‘sin’ and ‘rebel’. Written during the Babylonian exile, the psalm lists Israel’s past failures to follow God’s way and the punishments the people suffered. Finally, however, the theme of the psalm is the faithful continuation of God’s grace. After every episode of rebelliousness and punishment, God restored his people. Using words like ‘save’,‘redeem’ and ‘lead’, the psalmist calls on the exiles to learn from this and to trust that God can and will redeem them.

There are many sinful chapters in the history of the church – the Holy Wars, the Inquisition, apartheid, the Rwandan massacres, institutionalised child abuse. We, as the people of God, can still act wrongly. Crises which face the contemporary church are like chapters in the ongoing story told in this psalm, but we are still the people of a God always ready to forgive those who turn back to him. We can always return and God will meet us with his unending grace.

John Harris


1 Cantate Domino (Psalm 98:1, Book of Common Prayer)

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

1 Samuel 18,19

Mark 14

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How can I be free from sin?
Graham Kendrick and Steve Thompson
Copyright © 1991 Make Way Music
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.kingswayshop.com

Strength will rise (Everlasting God)
Brenton Brown & Ken Riley Copyright (c) 2005 Thankyou Music

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