1 Praise the LORD!
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
2 Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD?
Who can declare all His praise?
3 Blessed are those who keep justice,
And he who does righteousness at all times!
We are introduced to a distinction between the acts of the Lord, and our obedience to His Law: the keeping of God's Law is justice and righteousness (doing things the right way).
4 Remember me, O LORD, with the favor You have toward Your people.
Oh, visit me with Your salvation,
5 That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones,
That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation,
That I may glory with Your inheritance.
6 We have sinned with our fathers,
We have committed iniquity,
We have done wickedly.
7 Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders;
They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies,
But rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea.
The Fathers saw the miracles, but did not understand their importance. Miracles are a sign, which point us to the destination. The destination is God Himself, and obedience to His commandments. Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. Miracles, without subsequent obedience to the commandments of God, will eventually lead to a hardness of heart and a falling away.
8 Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake,
That He might make His mighty power known.
9 He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it dried up;
So He led them through the depths,
As through the wilderness.
10 He saved them from the hand of him who hated them,
And redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.
11 The waters covered their enemies;
There was not one of them left.
12 Then they believed His words;
They sang His praise.
"... they believed His words ..." How was it evidenced that they believed His words? James wrote, "You show me you faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works." Without works of obedience, there is not living faith. It was evident that they believed His words by the works of obedience that followed.
13 They soon forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness,
And tested God in the desert.
15 And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.
How soon miracles are forgotten. Miracles are not sustaining. We need something much stronger than miracles to keep us on the track of faith. Than stronger thing is the love of God, tempered with a fear of God. It also needs to be underguirded by an unshakable conviction that God is True, and His Word is always true, even when the material evidence suggests otherwise.
16 When they envied Moses in the camp,
And Aaron the saint of the LORD,
17 The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan,
And covered the faction of Abiram.
18 A fire was kindled in their company;
The flame burned up the wicked.
19 They made a calf in Horeb,
And worshiped the molded image.
20 Thus they changed their glory
Into the image of an ox that eats grass.
21 They forgot God their Savior,
Who had done great things in Egypt,
22 Wondrous works in the land of Ham,
Awesome things by the Red Sea.
23 Therefore He said that He would destroy them,
Had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach,
To turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them.
How often, when faith is predicated upon miracles, and not upon propositional truth, the people of God rush into error of lifestyle. Faith is not first, subjective and experiential; it is first, objective and propositional. Our faith is built upon historical fact: Jesus Christ lived, died, rose again. The entire substance of our faith is built upon this one fact, and if this fact is not actual fact, then our faith is entirely in vain. But, if this fact is a true fact, then we can put the full weight of our eternal existence on this one fact alone.
24 Then they despised the pleasant land;
They did not believe His word,
25 But complained in their tents,
And did not heed the voice of the LORD.
26 Therefore He raised His hand in an oath against them,
To overthrow them in the wilderness,
27 To overthrow their descendants among the nations,
And to scatter them in the lands.
God is true, and His Word is sure. We must stand with the written word of God against all other evidences. All the promises of God are Yes and Amen, in Christ Jesus. All the laws of God are good and lead to life, if lived out under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and for the glory of the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Each time we side with the immediate evidence, against the Word of God, our unbelief alienates us from the glory that God intends to bring about through the journey He leads us on. Oh that we should cease complaining in our tents.
28 They joined themselves also to Baal of Peor,
And ate sacrifices made to the dead.
29 Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds,
And the plague broke out among them.
30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened,
And the plague was stopped.
31 And that was accounted to him for righteousness
To all generations forevermore.
Unbelief quickly leads us to worship of other gods. All men worship some kind of god, even if it is the god of self.
32 They angered Him also at the waters of strife,
So that it went ill with Moses on account of them;
33 Because they rebelled against His Spirit,
So that he spoke rashly with his lips.
Even the leaders of God's people need to guard their hearts against unbelief.
34 They did not destroy the peoples,
Concerning whom the LORD had commanded them,
35 But they mingled with the Gentiles
And learned their works;
36 They served their idols,
Which became a snare to them.
37 They even sacrificed their sons
And their daughters to demons,
38 And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
And the land was polluted with blood.
39 Thus they were defiled by their own works,
And played the harlot by their own deeds.
When God's people do not faithfully apply God's law in the land, then eventually the unbelievers will take over the offices of law enforcement. This will lead to godless behaviour, such as abortion and such like. When the unbelievers have the ascendancy, then wickedness prevails, and the land becomes polluted with the blood of the innocent.
40 Therefore the wrath of the LORD was kindled against His people,
So that He abhorred His own inheritance.
41 And He gave them into the hand of the Gentiles,
And those who hated them ruled over them.
42 Their enemies also oppressed them,
And they were brought into subjection under their hand.
43 Many times He delivered them;
But they rebelled in their counsel,
And were brought low for their iniquity.
This is a caution, not just for the ancient people of Israel, but also for the Church. God is no respecter of persons. All who have called on the name of the Lord will be held to account for their lifestyle: are they miracle oriented, or are they obedience oriented. To be obedience oriented does not mean despising the miracles, but it does mean that the foundation of faith is not a miracle, but the propositional truth of the Word of God.
44 Nevertheless He regarded their affliction,
When He heard their cry;
45 And for their sake He remembered His covenant,
And relented according to the multitude of His mercies.
46 He also made them to be pitied
By all those who carried them away captive.
Praise God for His mercy, and His covenant faithfulness.
47 Save us, O LORD our God,
And gather us from among the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise.
Let us look to the time, when once again, the faithful people of God gain the ascendancy, and the Law of God is restored to its rightful place as the foundation of the laws of the land.
48 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel
From everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!