A devotion on Psalm 106: 24-48
Yesterday we saw that despite grand benefits to God’s people, they chose to be soulish and to walk in iniquity. Their Wills, their Intellect, and their Emotions were bent away from God and from things of God. They wanted what they wanted, when they wanted it even when it didn’t line up with God’s express directions for them. Today we will analyze the root of this problem and see God’s solution.
24 Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His word,
25 But complained in their tents and did not heed the voice of the Lord.
God has a plan for your life. He expresses it clearly in his Word and gives you Holy Spirit and every available resource to enable you to carry it out. You will either bend your will, your intellect, and your emotions to line up with his or you will despise it! Like a plant on the windowsill leans towards the sun and needs to be turned frequently so as not to deform, your soul/heart/mind need to be trained to not lean towards things of the enemy, the world, and the flesh. Keep turning it back to God.
Despise, ma’as, means to reject, refuse, loathe, disdain, cast off. It is an action born of strong emotion that can span the gamut from loathing to disregard – the ‘myeh’ attitude we addressed yesterday. God calls his plans for us the ‘pleasant land.’ By comparing it to other people’s, we may conclude we are not getting the best deal. We can say with our attitudes and actions, “God, I don’t want what you have for me. What I really want is this other thing over here.” We look at what he has for us or where he has us and conclude that it lacks value for our needs. This is marked by unbelief in his Word and promises; by private and/or public grumbling and complaining; and by open disobedience to his commands.
26 Therefore He raised His hand in an oath against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness,
27 To overthrow their descendants among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands.
God watches and sees us and our actions have an impact on him. The Israelite’s actions were so irksome that they roused God’s ire against his beloved. He values his plans and his Word so much that to despise them is to trample him and his goodness. To overthrow, naphal, means to fall in a variety of ways, e.g. fall down, fall away, be cast away or cast down, fall out; it can mean to die or rot. God would not only overthrow the offenders, but those who came after them who walked in their ways.
Beloved, our descendants frequently walk in our ways. It is an astonishing thing about human nature that our children will behave much like we do yet we will shake our heads and wonder why one earth they do what they do, not realizing it is what we trained them to do, moment by moment, year after year.
28 They joined themselves also to Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices made to the dead.
29 Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds, and the plague broke out among them.
30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was stopped.
31 And that was accounted to him for righteousness to all generations forevermore.
They did despicable things that God had forbidden for their own good and the consequences of their actions hailed down on them. Lucky for them, God in his mercy had raised and placed among them a man of honor who valued God and his ways, Phinehas. He was the son of Eleazer and the grandson of Aaron. Had he watched uncle Moses intercede for the people and change the tide of events? Had he watched his grandpa Aaron help erect the golden calf? His name means the hiss of serpent’s mouth. It means to diligently observe signs and touches on divination and sensitivity to the divine and therefore to whisper what one hears or sees.
He drove a spear through a couple that was flagrantly committing sexual immorality in the camp. He stood up to the immorality that had permeated the minds of his fellow countrymen and that was killing them. But they couldn’t see that. They were distracted by the good time they were having eating decadent food sacrificed to idols and by sexual sin. What would Jesus later say to the churches? “But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat foods sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality,” Revelation 2:14. They missed the stumbling block and one after the other, they tripped over it and fell away.
Phinehas’s bold action saved the day. Beloved your intercession is not in vain. Your prayers and actions can avert a plague. He who prays fires the winning shot.
32 They angered Him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses on account of them;
33 Because they rebelled against His Spirit, so that he spoke rashly with his lips.
But it didn’t stop there. These people, like us, have behaviors that are rotten through and through. They so vexed their leader Moses and drove him to a personal choice that would cost him his entry into the Promised Land. God dealt with him as he dealt with his followers and the consequences of sin applied to him also. His grand position of leadership and his vast experience couldn’t save him. It is a sad, sad story. He begged God to let him set foot in Canaan. God only allowed him to see it from a mountain top before he passed away.
34 They did not destroy the peoples, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them,
35 But they mingled with the Gentiles and learned their works;
36 They served their idols, which became a snare to them.
37 They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons,
38 And shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood.
39 Thus they were defiled by their own works and played the harlot by their own deeds.
The Israelites were supposed to dispossess the people of the land. But they fell in love with them and their ways. The word mingle, arab, means to braid. The Israelites interwove themselves with the foreigners they were supposed to wipe out. The result was just as God had warned about – they learned their works and their ways. They repeatedly did deplorable things and these became a snare to them. The pleasure thereof was but bait in a trap. They and their children suffered terribly for it.
40 Therefore the wrath of the Lord was kindled against His people, so that He abhorred His own inheritance.
41 And He gave them into the hand of the Gentiles, and those who hated them ruled over them.
42 Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand.
43 Many times He delivered them; but they rebelled in their counsel and were brought low for their iniquity.
“Why did I ever save these people from Egypt?” God might have thought. Their actions so kindled his ire that scripture says he abhorred them. That means he loathed or detested them. Those are strong words! Many times he delivered them but they despised his choices for them and bucked him at every turn.
44 Nevertheless He regarded their affliction, when He heard their cry;
45 And for their sake He remembered His covenant and relented according to the multitude of His mercies.
46 He also made them to be pitied by all those who carried them away captive.
O but grace! God’s heart melted when they suffered and cried out to him. As we’ve learned throughout the Psalms, we call, he hears. We cry, he answers. They sinned terribly. Nevertheless, God heard and saw their suffering. Nevertheless, he remembered his promise to his friend Abraham for a thousand generations and his grace covered this multitude of sin.
47 Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the Gentiles, to give thanks to Your holy name, to triumph in Your praise.
48 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord!
His grace to us delivers us from the ridiculous places we take ourselves. In his power and love he rescues us. And why? So we can give thanks and praise to his name. Thus do we triumph. Barak him, the Adonai of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Shout your “amen.” Sing your “praise the Lord.” Delight in his goodness and kindness to you despite your failures. He loves and will deliver you, nevertheless.