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By: Larry Shaffer
This beautiful young lady is Hope. Hope was a middle schooler in my Youth Group many years ago when I was in youth ministry. Now she’s a mom, raising her two wonderful daughters to follow the Lord. What a blessing!
Many times, He would deliver them; they, however, were rebellious in their counsel, and so sank down in their iniquity.
Nevertheless, He looked upon their distress when He heard their cry; and He remembered His covenant for their sake, and relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness. He also made them objects of compassion in the presence of all their captors.
Save us, O lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, to give thanks to Your holy name and glory in Your praise. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. And let all the people say, Amen. Praise the Lord! Psalms 106:43-48
This is an amazing Psalm of repentance that exalts the lovingkindness of God to forgive and save. It is written more from a national perspective, i.e., God’s chosen nation of Israel. The examples given in this Psalm recap the wandering hearts of the people of Israel. But we can still draw out principles that we can apply to our personal lives.
I tend to live in a state of grace. It’s a good place to be. I didn’t grow up in a religion of guilt and legalism requiring penance (voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong). So, I always lean toward grace and enjoy the comfort that I’m always forgiven. Perhaps even taking it for granted.
The ups and downs
This Psalm reminds me that my Christian life has been a life of ups and downs of spiritual growth and closeness with God intermingled with arrogance, self-reliance, lust and rebellion. Let’s be honest, I’m sure you can relate to some degree.
This Psalm recounts with detail the history of Israel and their recurring rebellion leading to God’s anger, followed by returning to God and receiving forgiveness and love. What a pattern! From the time of Moses to Jeremiah, the psalmist recounts the stories of Israel’s arrogance, lust and rebellion:
This was their pattern. But this is my life as well. I have 60 years of ups and downs. Just as the psalmist said, we have sinned just like our fathers, verse 6. But every time, although God burned in His anger toward them, in His lovingkindness toward them, HE FORGAVE:
He looked upon their distress and HE REMEMBERED HIS COVENANT FOR THEIR SAKE, and He relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness. He made them objects of compassions. Verse 45,46
I live continuously under the covenant of grace despite my heart of sin. This verse quoted above, verses 45, 46, contains the most glorious words in the world for those who are in Jesus under the New Covenant of faith and grace. Read it again. Write it down. Soak in the lovingkindness of God. He has made us “objects of compassion” rather than objects of wrath.
To realize and acknowledge this, as in Psalms 106, is to realize with greater intensity the amazing grace of God toward me. Grace that I no longer want to take for granted. Verse 48 closes the Psalm with,
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. And let all the people say ‘Amen’. Praise the Lord!
How am I to live today? Lord, do not allow me to foolishly consider myself “relatively” better than most people. How silly. What does perceiving myself as better than others really do? The Pharisee said, “I’m glad I’m better than the tax collector.” Big deal. It meant nothing. The tax collector said, “forgive me, I’m a sinner.” That meant something. Lord, the tax collector’s words, from a heart of faith, triggered the unfathomable grace and kindness of God. May I be the same. I know I’m not re-saved every time I say forgive me. I am always forgiven because of Your grace. But every time I whisper, ‘forgive me’, I am renewed and reminded of Your abundant grace and lovingkindness toward me! Amen!