Saturday: Psalms 105-106 & Amos 5.18-24

From Pete Williamson

Psalms 105-106: To conclude Book Four of the psalms, we have these two psalms. In these two psalms we find a fundamental tension in God’s interaction with people which permeates the Old Testament. On the one hand, these psalms are very similar - they retell the same series of events – when God rescued his people out of Egypt and led them through the desert to the promised land. On the other hand, they could not be more different. Psalm 105 sings praise for the great and powerful providence of God, who was always faithful, and who saved Israel and brought them into their own land. Psalm 106 tells of the deep-set rebellion in the hearts of God’s people, and how near to destroying those people God was. Israel was saved only by faithful intercessors like Moses, and by God’s mercy. Read together, these psalms clearly express a difficult tension that runs through the Bible; that God is good, but things are messed up. By placing these psalms together, we are forced to consider the nature of God and his goodness amid the reality of a harsh world with broken people.

Amos 5.18-24: There’s many reasons to criticize church, but I always find myself defending church. I know its imperfect, but I find myself irritated by people whose primary response to church and Christian community is simply how unsatisfactory it is. I feel like there needs to be a fundamental understanding that we are for Christian community and when we’re dissatisfied with something we work constructively to build a better community.

Though I may not be ultimately wrong in feeling that way, it’s probably not that similar to how the religious leaders of Amos’ time felt about their religious community and practices. Yet God does not hesitate to say “I hate your worship”. You can hear the voice of the religious leaders: “But surely God understands that the worship is designed to honor him? And sure, we could probably be doing more for ‘justice and mercy’, but I don’t think God would be against our worship. Surely it’s both and. We need justice and mercy, and good worship.” God is not so polite. He hates their acts of worship.

This passage reminds me that there is space to be truly dissatisfied with God’s people and what they’re doing. Being purely critical isn’t helpful, but we need a prophetic voice that will not mince words when we do not represent God well. God is not always the God of the polite nudge, but is the God who flips tables when our worship does not honor him. We need to be willing to hear that God today.