The *LORD is Good!

Psalm 106

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 106

Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the Hebrew Bible.

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Jesus said, "Father, *forgive them. Because they do not know what they are doing". (Luke 23:34)

Psalm 106: 1 - 5

v1   *Hallelujah! Say "*thank-you" to the *LORD, because he is good.
  His kind love will always (remain).

v2   (Nobody) can tell about all the great things that the *LORD has done.
  (Nobody) can *praise him enough.

v3   (The people) that obey his rules are very happy.
  They always do what is right.

v4   *LORD, do not forget me when you do something good for your people.
  Give me help (also) when you make them safe.

v5   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.

The Story of Psalm 106

There 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 Godís people lived. North Canaan became Israel and south Canaan became Judah.

Nearly everything in Psalm 106 tells us that Godís 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 (Solomonís) 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).

What Psalm 106: 1 - 5 means

The *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.

The People of Israel at the Sea of *Reeds

Psalm 106: 6 - 12

v6   We have *sinned as our fathers (before us) did.
  We have done wrong things; we have been very, very bad.

v7   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.

v8   But he saved them because of his name.
  He showed (everybody) that he was very powerful.

v9   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!

v10   He saved them from the hand of the enemy.
  He *redeemed them from the hand of the *foe.

v11   The waters covered their enemies.
  Not one of them remained alive.

v12   Then (Godís people) believed his promises
  and they all sang and *praised him.

What Psalm 106: 6 - 12 means

The word "sinned" means "not obeyed God" and "not obeyed Godís 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).

The *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.

Both parts of verse 10 mean the same. It is a good example of *Hebrew poetry. Poetry is a special way to use words. This means that "redeemed" means "saved" and that "foe" means "enemy". "The hand" means "the power". The word "redeem" really means "buy back". By his power, God bought his people back from the Egyptians. This is why we call Jesus "the redeemer". Jesus bought us back from Satan when Jesus died. Satan is the name of Godís great enemy. When the people of Israel had passed through the Sea of *Reeds, the water came back. But the Egyptians were still passing through. Every one of them drowned, (verse 11)! This made the people of Israel believe that God was with them. They 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.

The People of Israel Go From the Sea of *Reeds to Canaan

Psalm 106: 13 - 33

v13   But they soon forgot what (the *LORD) had done.
  They did not wait for (him to tell them) his plan.

v14   In the *wilderness they wanted food very much.
  And they *tested God in the *desert.

v15   So he gave them what they asked for.
  But he (also) sent an illness that made them die.

v16   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 God.

v17   (God made) a hole in the ground and Dathan fell into it.
  (God) buried Abiram and all his family.

v18   Then (God) sent a fire to their group (of people).
  The fire destroyed those very bad people.

v19   They made a *calf (out of gold) at Horeb and they *worshipped it.

v20   They stopped *worshipping God, who is great.
  Instead, they *worshipped the *image of an animal that eats grass!

v21   They forgot the God that had saved them
  and all the great things that he had done in Egypt.

v22   (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.

v23   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.

v24   (Later they said that) they were afraid to go into the good land (of Canaan).
  They did not believe the promise (of God).

v25   They said bad things (about God) in their *tents.
  They did not obey the *LORD.

v26   So he lifted up his hand and said that they would die in the *desert.

v27   (He said that) their children would die in other countries.
  (This was after) he had moved them all over the world.

v28   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.

v29   These things made (the *LORD) angry.
  (He sent) a *plague against them.

v30   But Phinehas stood up and *punished some bad people.
  Then (God) stopped the *plague.

v31   (The *LORD said) that Phinehas had done a very good thing.
  (People) will always remember it.

v32   They made (the *LORD) angry at the waters of Meribah.
  So, trouble came to Moses because of what they did.

v33   (They) made Moses angry and he spoke without thinking.

What Psalm 106: 13 - 33 means

While they travelled from Israel to Canaan, the people often made God angry. But he still loved them! This part of the psalm talks about some of the bad things that they did. The *psalmist gives examples as he thinks of them. He was not there when they happened.

After they passed the Sea of *Reeds, the people of Israel came to the *desert. Wilderness is another word for *desert. There was no food there. So, God gave them manna. Manna is as dry sweet bread. Later, they wanted fresh food as they had eaten in Egypt. They wanted meat and vegetables, not just dry manna. So they tested God, verses 13-15. This means that they asked him to show them that he was God. It was as if they gave God an exam! So, God gave them what they wanted. But then he sent a *plague and many of them died. The story is in Numbers 11.

"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).

In verses 19 - 23, we have the story of the *calf that they made out of gold. The story is in Exodus 32. Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai, 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.

In 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.

In verses 28 - 31, we have the story of the Baal of Peor. Baal means Ďmasterí 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 Godís rules. Then the *plague stopped.

In 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!

The People of Israel in Canaan

Psalm 106: 34 - 47

v34   The *LORD told (his people) to destroy the peoples (of Canaan),
  but they did not.

v35   They mixed with the peoples (of Canaan)
  and learned to do as they did.

v36   They *worshipped their *idols
  and became caught in a *trap.

v37   They killed their sons and their daughters for these *idols!

v38   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.

v39   (The *LORDís people) made themselves dirty by what they did.
  They became as *prostitutes!

v40   So the *LORD became very angry with his people
  and he really did not like them.

v41   He gave them into the hand of (other) countries
  and their enemies ruled over them.

v42   Their enemies *oppressed them
  and made them do whatever they wanted (Israel) to do.

v43   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.

v44   Yet (the *LORD) heard them when they prayed to him.
  He saw that they had trouble.

v45   He remembered what he had agreed.
  Because of his kind love, he changed his mind.

v46   He made all the people that *oppressed them feel sorry for them!

v47   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.

What Psalm 106: 34 - 47 means

In Exodus 34:11-16, the *LORD told the people of Israel what to do in Canaan. They must kill the people and not marry them. This was to stop the people of Israel *worshipping the *idols in Canaan. An idol is an *image of a false god, perhaps made of wood, stone or metal. But the people of Israel did not obey the *LORD. They did not kill the Canaanites, verse 34. The Canaanites were the people that lived in Canaan. They did mix (or perhaps marry them), (verse 35). They did learn to do the bad things that the Canaanites did, (verse 35). They 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.

But 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). The *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.

So, God was angry, (verse 40), and he gave his people into the hand of foreign governments. As in verse 10, "hand" means "power", (verse 41). "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.

In 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

v48   *Praise the *LORD, the God of Israel!
  *Praise him now and always! Let everybody say, "*Amen!"

What Psalm 106: 48 means

Verse 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".

Something to do

Study the verses from Exodus and Numbers given above, and read some of the Book of Judges.


© 2001-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words).

July 2002

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