Today’s psalm focuses on the list of learning lessons Israel went through. We are shown the major times they fell away AND God restored them.
The previous psalm focused on the triumphant places in Israel’s story. This time the focus in on all the missteps and sins made along the way. This psalm pulls back the covers so Israel isn’t tempted to think they made their journey unscathed.
It’s not fun to remember our mistakes. I have a few that haunt me in my dreams at times. It is crucial though to remember the lessons learned from those mistakes. I’m reminded of one such lesson that my youngest will most likely NEVER forget. I won’t forget it at least. My two youngest were making twisted flavor Starburst candies. They would put two of them into the microwave for a few seconds to soften them up, and then twist them together for a special taste. One time my youngest apparently didn’t realize how much time he punched into it. When the microwave beeped, he reached in like all the other times to retrieve his candy. It was a liquid by then. He put his little hand smack down in the middle of scorching hot sugar. As he pulled back with a blood curdling scream his fingers came away encrusted in the hot substance. I grabbed him up and stuck his hand under the faucet to cool it down and wash away the candy. But the damage was done. He had blistered his hand and it took several months to heal. He never again put candy in the microwave. I learned also to monitor what my children were putting in the microwave more closely.
I don’t know if my son carries scars from that microwave experience today but I know his body does from several other activities. We are revisiting Israel’s scars. How they got them and what they learned from them. If you don’t learn from the past, you are destined to repeat it. Judging by Israel’s list of lessons, they kept repeating the most obvious one; “Thou shalt have NO OTHER gods before Me.”
Our psalmist is exhorting the people to remember it now. It appears that they are in a season where they need to learn this lesson in order to receive reconciliation again. “Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to Your holy name and glory in Your praise” (verse 47).
And EVERY TIME they prayed such a prayer with their WHOLE HEARTS He heard them. “Nevertheless, He looked upon their distress, when He heard their cry. For their sake He remembered His covenant, and relented according to the abundance of His steadfast love” (verses 44-45).
Something special about this list of sins presented. EACH of them was forgiven, even if it was the next generation who would benefit from that forgiveness. The first generation of adults out of Egypt didn’t get to benefit personally from God’s forgiveness. I believe it was because their hearts never really changed. They only repented to get out of the situation they were in. Once everything settled back down they went right back to their same sin. That’s probably why God wouldn’t let them see the Promised Land. As a nation though, God has repeatedly restored Israel. There are still issues in the relationship but His love continues for His people. He is ready to restore them individually as they repent of their rejection of His Son. He will restore them as a people in the end, or so I believe from reading Revelation.
I am curious about something. King Manasseh of Judah was the most evil of all Israel’s kings. In his later years he repented of his sin and tried to make amends for all he had done. The people refused to follow him in this repentance but there was revival a few kings later when Josiah became king. But God still punished the people for the sins of Manasseh. It didn’t happen in Josiah’s time but shortly afterwards. I was wondering if God forgave them of that sin. Is it possible that the sin never really went away, even during Josiah’s reign but just went underground? They quickly followed whatever the king chose for their spiritual direction. And they were always ready, it seems, to hop back into bed with idols as soon as a bad king took the throne. They didn’t learn.
Father God, I PRAY I’m learning the lessons You put in my path. I don’t want my list of lessons to be perpetual repeats. I’ll take new lessons and PRAY I get them down deep into my spirit where they will draw me closer to You each day. I know I keep repeating a few. Patience is one of my main repeats. PLEASE let me learn that one WELL SOON! I’m sorry it is taken me so long. I started to say ‘has’ but I realize I’m still in a learning process with this one. I truly want patience to be part of my makeup, not hidden behind a discrete eye roll. I recognize that You are making progress in this area of my life. Maybe I need to exercise patience while learning patience. Catch 22 there. Except I trust You to supply the measure of patience necessary each step of the way.
Thank You that I don’t have to share my learning lessons list with everyone, or at least not the full list. But the list I will GLADLY share is my forgiven list with each triumph attached to it. Thank You for those peaks Father. They keep me going.