Psalm 106

106:0There is nothing in the psalm to tell us who the psalmist was. The psalmist is the person that wrote the psalm. But Bible students think that it was the psalmist that wrote Psalm 105. Psalm 105 tells some of the story of God's people from Abraham to Moses. Psalm 106 tells us some of the story of Moses leading the people to Canaan. It also tells us some of the things that they did later in Canaan. Canaan was the country where God's people lived. North Canaan became Israel and south Canaan became Judah.

Nearly everything in Psalm 106 tells us that God's people did not obey him. So, God let powerful kings beat his people in war. The King of Assyria beat Israel and the King of Babylon beat Judah. He took the people from Judah to Babylon. The psalmist may have lived in Babylon. He knew about what happened there. He prayed that God would not forget him, (verse 4), when he took the Jews back to Judah, (verse 5). That is what Bible students think verse 5 means. Jews are people who were born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

So, Psalm 106 is the second part of Psalm 105. It is a prayer that God will forgive all the bad things that his people have done. We talk to God. A prayer is the words that we pray. ‘Forgive’ means ‘not remember the bad things that we have done.’ This is possible because of what Jesus did. He died to take away those bad things, or sins. He said those words, ‘Father, forgive them’, while the Roman soldiers were crucifying (killing) him. Father is one of the names that Christians call God. It was not usually a Jewish name for God. God promised to David, ‘I will be his (Solomon's) father, and he will be my son’, (2 Samuel 7:14). But there are not many examples in the Old Testament (first part of the Bible).

The Lord is Good!

Verses: 1-5

1 Hallelujah! Say ‘thank-you’ to the Lord, because he is good.

His kind love will always remain.

106:1The Jews spoke Hebrew. ‘Hallelujah’ in verse 1 is a Hebrew word. Many people do not translate it. They use the Hebrew word, even if they are not Jewish. It means ‘Praise the Lord.’ This means ‘tell the Lord that he is very great.’ ‘Lord’ is a special name for God that his servants use. It means that God will love them and give them help. They will love and serve (work for) him. ‘Thank-you’ is a polite way to say ‘thanks!’ The ‘kind love’ in verse 1 is a special Bible word. It translates the Hebrew word ‘chesed.’ This means the love of God that does not stop. It does not stop even when people do not obey him. This psalm tells of many times when the Jews did not obey God. But he still loved them! Even at the end, when they went to Babylon, he still loved them. After 70 years, he brought them home again. In verses 4 and 5, the psalmist prays that he will be among those that go home. The ‘something good’ in verse 4 is the going home to Judah from Babylon.

2 Nobody can tell about all the great things that the Lord has done.

Nobody can praise him enough.

3 The people that obey his rules are very happy.

They always do what is right.

4 Lord, do not forget me when you do something good for your people.

Give me help also when you make them safe.

5 Then I will:

· enjoy the good things that you do for your people,

· be happy together with them,

· praise you with the people that belong to you.

Psalm 106: 6-12 The People of Israel at the Sea of Reeds

6 We have sinned as our fathers before us did.

We have done wrong things; we have been very, very bad.

106:6The word ‘sinned’ means ‘not obeyed God’ and ‘not obeyed God's rules.’ The psalmist says this three times. ‘Sinned’, ‘done wrong’, and ‘been very bad’ all mean the same. ‘Our fathers’ does not only mean fathers, but grandfathers and their fathers and grandfathers and so on. Some lived 900 years before, when Israel came out of Egypt. But the psalmist says that the people are still sinning! He says ‘We have sinned as they did’, (verse 6).

7 When our fathers were in Egypt, they did not understand your miracles.

They forgot the kind love that you often gave to them.

They did not obey the Lord by the sea, the Sea of Reeds.

106:7The miracles in Egypt were the plagues (bad things), (verse 7). Miracles are great things that only God can do. You can read about the plagues in Psalm 78, Psalm 105 and Exodus 7-12. The Sea of Reeds was a place near Egypt. The people of Israel had to cross over it to get away from Egypt. We are not sure where it is. Bible students think it is somewhere north of the Gulf of Suez. Reeds are plants that grow near water. Here God saved his people from the Egyptians. The Egyptians were following the people of Israel. God saved his people because he was so powerful. He made everybody know that he was powerful. He did this because his name meant that he was powerful, (verse 8). (His name ‘elohim’, usually translated ‘God’, means ‘very powerful.’) God was angry, so he shouted at the Sea of Reeds. It became dry, as a desert is dry, verse 9. A desert is a place full of sand, where there is no water.

8 But he saved them because of his name.

He showed everybody that he was very powerful.

9 He shouted at the Sea of Reeds and it became dry.

He led his people through the deep parts of it.

It was as if they went through a desert!

10 He saved them from the hand of the enemy.

He redeemed them from the hand of the foe.

106:10Both parts of verse 10 mean the same. It is a good example of Hebrew poetry.

11 The waters covered their enemies.

Not one of them remained alive.

106:11Every one of them drowned, (verse 11)! This made the people of Israel believe that God was with them.

12 Then God's people believed his promises

and they all sang and praised him.

106:12They sang his praise, verse 12. But they soon forgot, as the next part of the psalm tells us. The story of the people of Israel crossing the Sea of Reeds is in Exodus 14.

Psalm 106: 13-33 The People of Israel Go From the Sea of Reeds to Canaan

13 But they soon forgot what the Lord had done.

They did not wait for him to tell them his plan.

14 In the wilderness they wanted food very much.

And they tested God in the desert.

15 So he gave them what they asked for.

But he also sent an illness that made them die.

16 Then they became jealous of Moses

when they were staying in the desert.

They were also jealous of Aaron,

who was a special servant of the Lord.

106:16‘Jealous of Moses’, verse 16, means that they did not like what God did. God seemed to love Moses and Aaron more than he loved them! This was not true, so God destroyed the jealous people. Some of them fell into a great hole and the ground covered them. A fire destroyed Korah and his family. The stories are in Numbers 16. Aaron was a special servant of God. He was a priest, and his family were priests for many centuries. Priests worked for God in the tabernacle or temple (God's house on earth).

17 God made a hole in the ground and Dathan fell into it.

God buried Abiram and all his family.

18 Then God sent a fire to their group of people.

The fire destroyed those very bad people.

19 They made a calf out of gold at Horeb and they worshipped it.

20 They stopped worshipping God, who is great.

Instead, they worshipped the image of an animal that eats grass!

21 They forgot the God that had saved them

and all the great things that he had done in Egypt.

22 They forgot the miracles that he had done in the land of Ham.

They forgot the things that surprised them so much by the Sea of Reeds.

23 So God said that he would destroy them.

But Moses stood up and argued with God.

He prayed that an angry God would not destroy them.

106:23In verses 19-23, we have the story of the calf that they made from gold. The story is in Exodus 32. Horeb is another name for Sinai mountain, a mountain between Egypt and Canaan. There Moses spoke with God on the mountain. While they were talking, the people asked Aaron to make a calf. A calf is a young cow. Aaron made one out of gold. They worshipped the calf that Aaron made instead of God. ‘Worship’ means love someone and say how great they are. Really, they worshipped an image. An image is not alive. It looks as something that is alive looks. This image looked as a calf looks, but they made it out of gold. God was very angry and wanted to destroy the people. But Moses asked him not to, and God agreed.

24 Later they said that they were afraid to go into the good land of Canaan.

They did not believe the promise of God.

25 They said bad things about God in their tents.

They did not obey the Lord.

26 So he lifted up his hand and said that they would die in the desert.

27 He said that their children would die in other countries.

This was after he had moved them all over the world.

106:27In verses 24-27, we have the story of their refusing to go into the Promised Land. They gave this name to Canaan, because God promised it to them. The full story is in Numbers 13-14. When they heard that there were strong people to fight in Canaan, they hid in their tents. These were the homes made from animal skins that they lived in. They grumbled, or said bad things, about God in their tents. So, God was angry again. He lifted up his hand to show that he really would do what he said. We call a promise made with lifted hands an oath.

28 Then they agreed to be the servants of the false god called Baal of Peor.

They ate the food given to gods that were never alive.

29 These things made the Lord angry.

He sent a plague against them.

30 But Phinehas stood up and punished some bad people.

Then God stopped the plague.

31 The Lord said that Phinehas had done a very good thing.

People will always remember it.

106:31In verses 28-31, we have the story of the Baal of Peor. Baal means ‘master’ and it is the name of a false god. People thought that he lived in a mountain called Peor. The story is in Numbers 25. The Lord punished (hurt them for doing wrong) with a plague. It was an illness, but we do not know what it was. Phinehas killed a man and a woman who were not obeying God's rules. Then the plague stopped.

32 They made the Lord angry at the waters of Meribah.

So, trouble came to Moses because of what they did.

33 They made Moses angry and he spoke without thinking.

106:33In verses 32-33, we have the story of why Moses did not go into the land of Canaan. It is in Numbers 20:1-13. Because Moses was angry, he spoke too soon!

Psalm 106: 34-47 The People of Israel in Canaan

34 The Lord told his people to destroy the nations of Canaan,

but they did not.

35 They mixed with those nations and they learned their way of life.

106:35They did mix (or perhaps marry them), (verse 35). They did learn to do the bad things that the Canaanites did, (verse 35).

36 They worshipped their idols and became caught in a trap.

106:36They did worship their false gods, (verse 36). So, they were in a trap, as an animal or bird is in a trap. They could not get out of it. A trap is something that catches you so that you cannot get away.

37 They killed their sons and their daughters for these idols!

106:37But there was something worse! To worship these false gods, they had to kill their children, (verse 37). This made the land dirty, or desecrated. This meant that they could not worship the Lord in it. He would not listen to their prayers and praises, (verse 38).

38 Their sons and their daughters had done nothing wrong,

but they killed them for these idols.

The idols were the false gods of Canaan

and these murders made the land dirty.

39 The Lord's people made themselves dirty by what they did.

They became as prostitutes!

106:39The Lord's people became as prostitutes, (verse 39). A prostitute is a woman who has sex with any man that pays her. The Bible says God is married to his people. If they worship false gods, they become as prostitutes.

40 So the Lord became very angry with his people

and he really did not like them.

106:40So, God was angry, (verse 40), and he gave his people into the hand of foreign governments.

41 He gave them into the hand of other countries

and their enemies ruled over them.

106:41As in verse 10, ‘hand’ means ‘power’, (verse 41).

42 Their enemies oppressed them

and made them do whatever they wanted Israel to do.

106:42‘Oppressed’ in verse 42 means that their enemies were not kind, they were cruel to Israel and hurt them. But because God loved them, he saved them many times, (verses 43-46). The stories are in the Book of Judges. ‘Changed his mind’ in verse 45 means that instead of punishing (hurting) them he saved them.

43 Often the Lord would save them from these enemies.

But again and again, they decided not to obey him

and they did more and more things that were wrong.

44 Yet the Lord heard them when they prayed to him.

He saw that they had trouble.

45 He remembered what he had agreed.

Because of his kind love, he changed his mind.

46 He made all the people that oppressed them feel sorry for them!

47 Save us, our Lord and God. Bring us back from other countries.

Then we will be very happy to thank you and to praise your holy name.

106:47In verse 47, the psalmist again prays that God will take his people home to Judah from Babylon and other places. When that happens, the Lord's people will be very happy to thank him and praise him. ‘Holy’ means that God has never done anything bad. He is so good that we all feel a bit afraid of him.

Psalm 106: 48

48 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel!

Praise him now and always! Let everybody say, ‘Amen!’


106:48Verse 48 is not really part of Psalm 106. It is an end to Book 4 of the Psalms, Psalms 90-106. ‘Amen’ means ‘we all agree.’