Psalm 106 Bible Commentary

Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown

(Read all of Psalm 106)

Ps 106:1-48. This Psalm gives a detailed confession of the sins of Israel in all periods of their history, with special reference to the terms of the covenant as intimated (Ps 105:45). It is introduced by praise to God for the wonders of His mercy, and concluded by a supplication for His favor to His afflicted people, and a doxology.

1. Praise, &c.--(See on Ps 104:35), begins and ends the Psalm, intimating the obligations of praise, however we sin and suffer 1Ch 16:34-36 is the source from which the beginning and end of this Psalm are derived.

2. His acts exceed our comprehension, as His praise our powers of expression (Ro 11:33). Their unutterable greatness is not to keep us back, but to urge us the more to try to praise Him as best we can (Ps 40:5; 71:15).

3. The blessing is limited to those whose principles and acts are right. How "blessed" Israel would be now, if he had "observed God's statutes" (Ps 105:45).

4, 5. In view of the desert of sins to be confessed, the writer invokes God's covenant mercy to himself and the Church, in whose welfare he rejoices. The speaker, me, I, is not the Psalmist himself, but the people, the present generation (compare Ps 106:6).
visit--(Compare Ps 8:4).

5. see the good--participate in it (Ps 37:13).
thy chosen--namely, Israel, God's elect (Isa 43:20; 45:4). As God seems to have forgotten them, they pray that He would "remember" them with the favor which belongs to His own people, and which once they had enjoyed.
thine inheritance-- (De 9:29; 32:9).

6. Compare 1Ki 8:47; Da 9:5, where the same three verbs occur in the same order and connection, the original of the two later passages being the first one, the prayer of Solomon in dedicating the temple.
sinned . . . fathers--like them, and so partaking of their guilt. The terms denote a rising gradation of sinning (compare Ps 1:1).
with our fathers--we and they together forming one mass of corruption.

7-12. Special confession. Their rebellion at the sea (Ex 14:11) was because they had not remembered nor understood God's miracles on their behalf. That God saved them in their unbelief was of His mere mercy, and for His own glory.
the sea . . . the Red Sea--the very words in which Moses' song celebrated the scene of Israel's deliverance (Ex 15:4). Israel began to rebel against God at the very moment and scene of its deliverance by God!

8. for his name's sake-- (Eze 20:14).

9. rebuked-- (Ps 104:7).
as through the wilderness-- (Isa 63:11-14).

12. believed . . . his words--This is said not to praise the Israelites, but God, who constrained even so unbelieving a people momentarily to "believe" while in immediate view of His wonders, a faith which they immediately afterwards lost (Ps 106:13; Ex 14:31; 15:1).

13-15. The faith induced by God's display of power in their behalf was short lived, and their new rebellion and temptation was visited by God with fresh punishment, inflicted by leaving them to the result of their own gratified appetites, and sending on them spiritual poverty (Nu 11:18).
They soon forgat--literally, "They hasted, they forgat" (compare Ex 32:8). "They have turned aside quickly (or, hastily) out of the way." The haste of our desires is such that we can scarcely allow God one day. Unless He immediately answers our call, instantly then arise impatience, and at length despair.
his works-- (De 11:3, 4; Da 9:14).
his counsel--They waited not for the development of God's counsel, or plan for their deliverance, at His own time, and in His own way.

14. Literally, "lusted a lust" (quoted from Nu 11:4, Margin). Previously, there had been impatience as to necessaries of life; here it is lusting (Ps 78:18).

15. but sent leanness--rather, "and sent," that is, and thus, even in doing so, the punishment was inflicted at the very time their request was granted. So Ps 78:30, "While their meat was yet in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them."
soul--the animal soul, which craves for food (Nu 11:6; Ps 107:18). This soul got its wish, and with it and in it its own punishment. The place was therefore called Kibroth-hattaavah, "the graves of lust" [Nu 11:34], because there they buried the people who had lusted. Animal desires when gratified mostly give only a hungry craving for more (Jer 2:13).

16-18. All the congregation took part with Dathan, Korah, &c., and their accomplices (Nu 16:41).
Aaron the saint--literally, "the holy one," as consecrated priest; not a moral attribute, but one designating his office as holy to the Lord. The rebellion was followed by a double punishment: (1) of the non-Levitical rebels, the Reubenites, Dathan and Abiram, &c. (De 11:6; Nu 26:10); these were swallowed up by the earth.

17. covered--"closed upon them" (Nu 16:33). (2) Of the Levitical rebels, with Korah at their head (Nu 16:35; 26:10); these had sinned by fire, and were punished by fire, as Aaron's (being high priest) sons had been (Le 10:2; Nu 16:1-35).

19-23. From indirect setting God at naught, they pass to direct.
made--though prohibited in Ex 20:4, 5 to make a likeness, even of the true God.
calf--called so in contempt. They would have made an ox or bull, but their idol turned out but a calf; an imitation of the divine symbols, the cherubim; or of the sacred bull of Egyptian idolatry. The idolatry was more sinful in view of their recent experience of God's power in Egypt and His wonders at Sinai (Ex 32:1-6). Though intending to worship Jehovah under the symbol of the calf, yet as this was incompatible with His nature (De 4:15-17), they in reality gave up Him, and so were given up by Him. Instead of the Lord of heaven, they had as their glory the image of an ox that does nothing but eat grass.

23. he said--namely, to Moses (De 9:13). With God, saying is as certain as doing; but His purpose, while full of wrath against sin, takes into account the mediation of Him of whom Moses was the type (Ex 32:11-14; De 9:18, 19).
Moses his chosen--that is, to be His servant (compare Ps 105:26).
in the breach--as a warrior covers with his body the broken part of a wall or fortress besieged, a perilous place (Eze 13:5; 22:30).
to turn away--or, "prevent"
his wrath-- (Nu 25:11; Ps 78:38).

24-27. The sin of refusing to invade Canaan, "the pleasant land" (Jer 3:19; Eze 20:6; Da 8:9), "the land of beauty," was punished by the destruction of that generation (Nu 14:28), and the threat of dispersion (De 4:25; 28:32) afterwards made to their posterity, and fulfilled in the great calamities now bewailed, may have also been then added.
despised-- (Nu 14:31).
believed not his word--by which He promised He would give them the land; but rather the word of the faithless spies (compare Ps 78:22).

26. lifted up his hand--or, "swore," the usual form of swearing (compare Nu 14:30, Margin).

27. To overthrow--literally, "To make them fall"; alluding to the words (Nu 14:39).
among . . . nations . . . lands--The "wilderness" was not more destructive to the fathers (Ps 106:26) than residence among the heathen ("nations") shall be to the children. Le 26:33, 38 is here, before the Psalmist's mind, the determination against the "seed" when rebellious, being not expressed in Nu 14:31-33, but implied in the determination against the fathers.

28-30. sacrifices of the dead--that is, of lifeless idols, contrasted with "the living God" (Jer 10:3-10; compare Ps 115:4-7; 1Co 12:2). On the words,
joined themselves to Baal-peor--see Nu 25:2, 3, 5.
Baal-peor--that is, the possessor of Peor, the mountain on which Chemosh, the idol of Moab, was worshipped, and at the foot of which Israel at the time lay encamped (Nu 23:28). The name never occurs except in connection with that locality and that circumstance.

29. provoked--excited grief and indignation (Ps 6:7; 78:58).

30. stood--as Aaron "stood between the living and the dead, and the plague was stayed" (Nu 16:48).
executed judgment--literally, "judged," including sentence and act.

31. counted . . . righteousness--"a just and rewardable action."
for--or, "unto," to the procuring of righteousness, as in Ro 4:2; 10:4. Here it was a particular act, not faith, nor its object Christ; and what was procured was not justifying righteousness, or what was to be rewarded with eternal life; for no one act of man's can be taken for complete obedience. But it was that which God approved and rewarded with a perpetual priesthood to him and his descendants (Nu 25:13; 1Ch 6:4, &c.).

32, 33. (Compare Nu 20:3-12; De 1:37; 3:26).
went ill with--literally, "was bad for"
Moses--His conduct, though under great provocation, was punished by exclusion from Canaan.

34-39. They not only failed to expel the heathen, as God
commanded-- (Ex 23:32, 33), literally, "said (they should)," but conformed to their idolatries [Ps 106:36], and thus became spiritual adulterers (Ps 73:27).

37. unto devils--Septuagint, "demons" (compare 1Co 10:20), or "evil spirits."

38. polluted with blood--literally, "blood," or "murder" (Ps 5:6; 26:9).

40-43. Those nations first seduced and then oppressed them (compare Jud 1:34; 2:14; 3:30). Their apostasies ungratefully repaid God's many mercies till He finally abandoned them to punishment (Le 26:39).

44-46. If, as is probable, this Psalm was written at the time of the captivity, the writer now intimates the tokens of God's returning favor.

45. repented--(compare Ps 90:13).

46. made . . . pitied-- (1Ki 8:50; Da 1:9). These tokens encourage the prayer and the promise of praise (Ps 30:4), which is well closed by a doxology.