From: Pete Williamson
Psalm 106 comes as ‘Part 2’ of a two-part psalm. Psalm 105 tells of God’s favor towards Abraham and his salvation of Israel from the grasp of Pharaoh in Egypt. It’s a joyful psalm of God’s mighty deeds. Then reality hits in Psalm 106 hits. In the desert and beyond, the people forget the mighty deeds of God, and are thereby punished. Yet, God remains faithful to his covenant despite the sins of the people.
A key idea reoccurs throughout Psalm 106. Forgetfulness. Firstly, the psalmist calls on God to remember him – v4 – “Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people”. Then throughout the psalm we have this constant refrain:
v7- “they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.”
v13- “But they soon forgot his works;”
v21- “They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt”
Then finally in the midst of Israel’s forgetfulness, God…
v45- “… remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
I think so often we are so eager to see God do something powerful. Something definitive, so that we could trust him fully. It’s easy to think that the people of the exodus had it easy—they saw God move powerfully. Surely it’s easy to trust him after that! But us humans don’t work like that. The Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign so that he could show his power, to which Jesus replies that even if someone rose from the dead they would not believe. It feels that an act of God would solve all our problems of faith. But we neglect to notice our own forgetfulness.
As I reflect on my life, at many points of my life I have been aware of God’s faithful hand in my life. Yet, in a moment of doubt, all those acts conveniently fail to enter my consciousness. It’s not that I think of them and find them unconvincing in a moment of doubt. It’s that they just do not enter my mind. I forget God’s faithfulness. In our human condition we are so distractible that we do not see clearly. We are so clouded by the pressures of the here-and-now that we will neglect to consider the messages of the past to understand what is right, good, and true. It is not enough to see God’s goodness, we must see and remember.
This is why a regular refrain in Scripture is to remember; to resist the slipping of mind like we resist evil; to record the great deeds of God for a future generation; to write his faithfulness on a monument. To see rightly, we mustn’t simply see the here-and-now, but to see God’s work through the generations.
Advent is a time to remember. To remember our sins, and how God came to save us in Jesus. And from that memory to rightly understand God’s intentions for creation and awaiting his coming again.
I am a Deacon at CotC, a campus minister with Harvard Grad Students, a father of Malachi, and a husband of Kelly.