Praise the Lord! O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.
Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord, or declare all his praise?
Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times.
Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people; help me when you deliver them;
that I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory in your heritage.
Both we and our ancestors have sinned; we have committed iniquity, have done wickedly.
Our ancestors, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wonderful works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea.
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, so that he might make known his mighty power.
He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry; he led them through the deep as through a desert.
So he saved them from the hand of the foe, and delivered them from the hand of the enemy.
The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them was left.
Then they believed his words; they sang his praise.
But they 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.
They were jealous of Moses in the camp, and of Aaron, the holy one of the Lord.
The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the faction of Abiram.
Fire also broke out in their company; the flame burned up the wicked.
They made a calf at Horeb and worshiped a cast image.
They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.
They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt,
wondrous works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
Therefore he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them.
Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise.
They grumbled in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the Lord.
Therefore he raised his hand and swore to them that he would make them fall in the wilderness,
and would disperse their descendants among the nations, scattering them over the lands.
Then they attached themselves to the Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices offered to the dead;
they provoked the Lord to anger with their deeds, and a plague broke out among them.
Then Phinehas stood up and interceded, and the plague was stopped.
And that has been reckoned to him as righteousness from generation to generation forever.
They angered the Lord at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account;
for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke words that were rash.
They did not destroy the peoples, as the Lord commanded them,
but they mingled with the nations and learned to do as they did.
They served their idols, which became a snare to them.
They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons;
they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood.
Thus they became unclean by their acts, and prostituted themselves in their doings.
Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage;
he gave them into the hand of the nations, so that those who hated them ruled over them.
Their enemies oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their power.
Many times he delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes, and were brought low through their iniquity.
Nevertheless he regarded their distress when he heard their cry.
For their sake he remembered his covenant, and showed compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
He caused them to be pitied by all who held them captive.
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.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. And let all the people say, “Amen.” Praise the Lord!
As I started to read this Psalm this morning, I started out feeling like I was reading the same Psalm as yesterday. There was a recounting of the history of the people of God, but as I slowed down and looked closer, I realized that I was reading the other side of the story. If the first part of the story was about the ways that God was faithful to the people, this one was more about the ways that the people were unfaithful to God – golden calf, unclean acts, taking for granted the bounteous land that they had been given. Yet, the Psalm speaks of how God continued to remain faithful even when the people were unfaithful. I initially thought about doing just a negative image of yesterday’s image with the tree, but as I thought about it through the day, I thought of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:12 (Message translation) – “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.”
To me, this is like the time when I take my contact lenses out and before I put on my glasses at night. The world is not clear and unless I know exactly where I left my glasses, I find that I am having to dig around and stumble around to find the way to see once again. God has given us a way to see the world, but so often we choose to take our “glasses” off so to speak and we see the world blurry and as a result we go in directions very different from what God desires for us.
This picture is the gorgeous sunrise here this morning, but it is the sunrise before I remembered that I had turned my autofocus off last night. So, what could have been a stunning shot of a beautiful sunrise is just a big blur. But when I turned the focus back on, I saw the beauty of the sunrise as God intended.