Summary: God warns against forgetting Who He is and what He has done. The example provided is Israel during the wilderness wanderings. The message explores this concept, especially in relationship to the prayer life of Christians.
“[Israel] soon forgot his works;
they did not wait for his counsel.
But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness,
and put God to the test in the desert;
he gave them what they asked,
but sent a wasting disease among them.”
“We want what we want; and we want it when we want it.” This seems to be the mantra of modernity. Tragically, such attitudes permeate modern church life. We imagine that we know what we want, never pausing to think that He who gives us our being knows what we need and provides richly. Focused on our immediate desires, few of us can actually say what we need. This is one great reason why we need God. “Your will be done” has become a talisman in too many instances; we say the words, but we don’t mean it.
I believe it is accurate to say that few of us have all we want, though all of us likely have all that we need. It is distressingly easy to confuse “need” and “want;” the appetite is insatiable. Perhaps you will remember the words Solomon penned so many years ago:
“Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,
and never satisfied are the eyes of man.”
When we recall God’s goodness, we will almost always be satisfied. When we consider the fact that God is ever with those who love Him, we will rejoice. When we think of the blessings showered on us each day, we will praise the Lord our God. When we begin to compare ourselves to others, we will inevitably begin to feel cheated. When we focus on what we don’t have, we will shortly begin to grumble about how unfair life can be. The message this day is a call to focus on God’s goodness so that we will not forget God.
GOD’S RICH BLESSINGS IN A DIFFICULT SITUATION — The first twelve verses of this Psalm speak of God’s rich blessings to Israel during the wilderness journey. The first several verses speak in general of God’s goodness, encouraging those who know God to reflect His character.
“Praise the LORD!
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD,
or declare all his praise?
Blessed are they who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times!”
The next strophe is a petition addressed to the LORD, pleading with Him to again show goodness as He has in the past.
“Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people;
help me when you save them,
that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones,
that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
that I may glory with your inheritance.”
[PSALM 106:4, 5]
Two points I ask you to keep in mind. First, remember that the Psalms are prayers. I am not saying that all that is written in the Psalms is a prayer, but much of the Psalms consist of prayers. Then, notice that the Psalmist makes his request in full confidence that God will hear what he asks. He is not simply tossing out a plea in some vague hope that God might do something; he asks, confident that God does hear and that God will act in order to glorify His Name.
Then, on behalf of his people, the Psalmist confesses their awful sin of forgetting God’s goodness to the nation.
“Both we and our fathers have sinned;
we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.
Our fathers, when they were in Egypt,
did not consider your wondrous works;
they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love,
but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
that he might make known his mighty power.
He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry,
and he led them through the deep as through a desert.
So, he saved them from the hand of the foe
and redeemed them from the power of the enemy.
And the waters covered their adversaries;
not one of them was left.
Then they believed his words;
they sang his praise.”
Let’s think through what the Psalmist has written. God’s people did not think about God’s wondrous works when they were enslaved. They didn’t give thought to God’s power and might. In effect, they differed little from the Egyptians. Perhaps the sole difference was that the Egyptians worshipped various gods that had no real power; but what difference does it make whether people worship false gods or worship no gods? Israel was virtually indistinguishable from the Egyptians in that they had no god to whom they looked. Many supposed Christians are indistinguishable from the pagans about them with the sole exception that the professed Christians perform religious rites that they identify as “Christian.” In too many instances, those rites are a mere performance without any real impact.