Psalm 106 – Cycle of Judgment and Repentance Found in the People of Israel

I enjoy Bible study very much.  One of my favorite things is to pray through a Psalm and let the Lord communicate with me concerning the truth found in it.  As I was reading Psalm 106, I was impressed with how I act like the Israelites, how the church falls into the same traps, and how our nation parallels the path taken by God’s people over and over again.

This Psalm was written to remind the people of the great things God did for them and how they rebelled against Him at every turn.  They were oppressed in the land of Egypt, so God provided for their exodus from their slavery.  Not only did He bring them out of that land, He made sure they were very wealthy in the process.  He guided them to the Red Sea.  He provided for them in the wilderness.  But that wasn’t enough for them.  They murmured, and complained, and rebelled against their God who sustained them during their journey.  Instead of placing complete faith and trust in the living God that had showed His power, they returned back to the dead idols they had been exposed to in Egypt – gods that had no power to protect and guide and provide.

As I look back on my own life, I see that cycle – times of commitment followed by a slipping into inaction then to open rebellion against what I knew was right.  I would experience another time of conviction, which would lead to repentance and back to commitment.  I believe I now have the commitment thing covered pretty well, but I can still see the cycle repeat itself on a smaller scale.  Understand, it may be on a smaller scale in our own eyes, but God makes no distinction.  So, I strive to renew my commitment and dedication each and every day – sometime successfully, sometimes not so much.  The joy is that God is always there and ready to forgive my shortcomings as long as I renew my commitment to do His will.  What He will not reward is insincere platitudes in an attempt to appease Him.

In the midst of this cycle of deliverance to rebellion and back to deliverance that the people of Israel were locked into, God always maintained at least one man to be His spokesman.  It was Moses during the exodus and wandering then Joshua as the people took the Promised Land.  I like how verse 23 puts it: “…had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach…”  I would never compare myself to Moses, but there are times when I feel like I am standing in the breach between God and my church.  Understand, I have a great church and I love the people God has assembled together to make it up, but I see apathy at times, which is in its own way rebellion.

I feel that my job as God’s spokesman to my church is to identify the unwanted inhabitants of the lives of my members and help them banish them.  After all, I see that as one of the commands that God has given us as believers – get rid of the worldly inhabitants (sins) in our lives so that we can live the holy life God intends.  As the Israelites did not rid the land of the original inhabitants, so we too often do not completely eliminate sin from our own lives.  It strikes me that as the people of God suffered unseen difficulties because they did not completely follow God’s commands, we suffer consequences for the sins we harbor in our own lives.  God is there to forgive and restore when we fall victim to our human nature, but He is also just when He allows us to experience the consequences for wrong choices.  That’s the way a loving father should react, so why do people not expect our Heavenly Father to act any differently.

But we also see God interacting with Israel as a nation.  He set up guidelines with them that if they would follow Him and obey His commandments, He would bless them in their promised land.  Notice that He also outlined consequences for them as a nation if they did not.  When Israel had a strong leader provided by God, who followed God’s commands, they were blessed as He promised, and they experienced peace in the land.  However, there were too many times that the people would buy into the ideas and religions of the inhabitants they left in their midst or the surrounding nations, and would drift away from God’s intended lifestyle.  God, in His justice, took action so that His people suffered for their rebellion.

I know that people today are saying that the U.S.A. is not a Christian nation, but I beg to differ.  I know that some of our founding fathers were not specifically Christian, but I believe that in their writings, it is obvious that they understood the importance of Christian beliefs in the lives of citizens and government.  They did not want to allow the government to dictate religion and they instituted protections along those lines; however, they also indicated that they built the government around the concept that man answered to a higher power (most of them believed it was God Almighty) and that the people making up the government would make decisions based on that foundation.  As long as that was true, this nation has been blessed.

But can the same be said for our society, and our government, today?  I believe there are some politicians who still use Christian standards when making decisions that affect us as citizens.  Unfortunately, I believe they are far too few.  Too many of our career politicians have a motivation other than honoring God behind their decisions.  For that reason, I believe that the U.S.A. is standing in a position of judgment before God right now just like the people of Israel did all too often.  If God will judge His chosen people, why do we think He will not judge us?

Can we skip the suffering that will inevitably come with God’s judgment?  I believe it is possible, but we must go directly to repentance and correct the rebellion in our society.  That means that society itself, the people as a whole, must accept God’s way.  That must then be reflected in those we choose to govern over us.  Only then can decisions be made that honor God.  If that happens, then He can bless our nation again.  If not, I fear for those who are here when God’s judgment falls on our nation.

Rooted in Church

Psalms 92:13-14
(13)  Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.
(14)  They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;

Planted in the house of the Lord.”  Isn’t that an interesting phrase?  What does it mean?  When applying scripture to life, we have to keep in mind that while there is only one interpretation, there are typically many applications.  I can see this phrase meaning to be rooted in heaven because the believer has a permanent place established for them there.  However, this particular Psalm has aspects of immediate application as well as anticipation for the future.

We should be praising God each day for His provision, and it should lead to joy in our hearts all day long.  But, it may be a bit unrealistic to expect those who oppose us to be utterly destroyed right before our eyes in the near future; although that could happen.  It is more reasonable to expect the utter destruction of those who oppose God and His followers upon His return.  At that time, we will witness them getting what they are due.  Before you think that I’m a bit too brutal in my thinking, we will see it happen and the Bible is clear that it will, but our desire should be to see our enemies become fellow Children of God instead of continuing on their path to destruction.

So, I want to focus on the immediate application of verses 13 and 14.  The phrase, “planted in the house of the Lord” can be taken to mean those who are established in a local church – those who have put down roots in a local body of believers and are there to produce fruit in that church.  The picture painted here is one of someone who has deep commitments to a church, someone who has sunk their supply chain into the resources available to them through fellow believers, and is not easily moved away from the nourishment found there.  The church needs more people like this.

The winds of change blow through churches regularly.  The floods of controversy and conflict sweep through.  Those who are not rooted are damaged and swept away because they have nothing to hold onto.  They are the ones who attend sporadically and never get involved in the activities of the church.  They may even be Sunday morning only attenders who sit on a pew, but are out the door as soon as the service is over.  They have no commitment to the church itself because they don’t fellowship with other believers.  They don’t know what’s truly going on in the church, and many times, don’t care.  They are open to the influence of rumor and innuendo because they don’t know the heart of the other members.

Those who are rooted in the church not only take from it, but give back to it.  “They shall still bring forth fruit.”  They supply the needs of others in the church.  They provide sustenance to those who visit either looking for a new church or those looking for a Savior.  They produce fruit through the influence of the Holy Spirit.  Any thriving church must have some who are exhibiting the special characteristics given to them by the Holy Spirit.  Without them, the church eventually dwindles away.

But, notice the next part of that phrase, “in old age.”  Spiritual fruit can be produced at any age.  Sold-out teenagers have an influence on people around them for the benefit and glory of God.  Young couples, and those with young families, have the energy of youth to be involved in activities; and that energy is a blessing when it is directed to benefit the church.  But this passage makes it clear that there is no retirement age to producing spiritual fruit.  Those who have served their entire lives have experience and wisdom they can pass along to those coming up to take their place.  Everyone has talents and abilities that they can use to benefit the church.  There is no expiration date on those.

A vibrant and growing church must have members who are rooted – unmovable with the influences of the world – and willing to continue to produce spiritual fruit in whatever way they can.  At your age, whatever it is, are you using your God-give abilities as He would want?