Israel’s Confession of Sin
Give thanks to the LORD, who is good,
whose mercy endures forever.a
2Who can recount the mighty deeds of the LORD,
proclaim in full God’s praise?
3Blessed those who do what is right,
whose deeds are always just.b
4Remember me, LORD, as you favor your people;
come to me with your saving help,c
5That I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones,
rejoice in the joy of your people,
and glory with your heritage.
6We have sinned like our ancestors;d
we have done wrong and are guilty.
7Our ancestors in Egypt
did not attend to your wonders.
They did not remember your manifold mercy;
they defied the Most High at the Red Sea.
8Yet he saved them for his name’s sake
to make his power known.e
9He roared at the Red Sea and it dried up.
He led them through the deep as through a desert.f
10He rescued them from hostile hands,
freed them from the power of the enemy.
11The waters covered their oppressors;
not one of them survived.
12Then they believed his words
and sang his praise.g
13But they soon forgot all he had done;
they had no patience for his plan.
14In the desert they gave in to their cravings,
tempted God in the wasteland.h
15So he gave them what they asked
and sent a wasting disease against them.i
16In the camp they challenged Mosesj
and Aaron, the holy one of the LORD.
17The earth opened and swallowed Dathan,
it closed on the followers of Abiram.
18Against their company the fire blazed;
flames consumed the wicked.
19At Horeb they fashioned a calf,k
worshiped a metal statue.
20They exchanged their glory*
for the image of a grass-eating bull.
21They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,l
22Amazing deeds in the land of Ham,
fearsome deeds at the Red Sea.
23He would have decreed their destruction,
had not Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach*
to turn back his destroying anger.m
24Next they despised the beautiful land;n
they did not believe the promise.
25In their tents they complained;
they did not heed the voice of the LORD.
26So with raised hand he swore
he would destroy them in the desert,
27And scatter their descendants among the nations,
disperse them in foreign lands.
28They joined in the rites of Baal of Peor,o
ate food sacrificed to the dead.
29They provoked him by their actions,
and a plague broke out among them.
30Then Phinehas rose to intervene,
and the plague was brought to a halt.
31This was counted for him as a righteous deed
for all generations to come.
32At the waters of Meribah they angered God,p
and Moses suffered because of them.*
33They so embittered his spirit
that rash words crossed his lips.
34They did not destroy the peoples
as the LORD had commanded them,q
35But mingled with the nations
and imitated their ways.r
36They served their idols
and were ensnared by them.s
37They sacrificed to demons*
their own sons and daughters,
38Shedding innocent blood,
the blood of their own sons and daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
desecrating the land with bloodshed.
39They defiled themselves by their actions,
became adulterers by their conduct.
40So the LORD grew angry with his people,
abhorred his own heritage.
41He handed them over to the nations,
and their adversaries ruled over them.t
42Their enemies oppressed them,
kept them under subjection.
43Many times did he rescue them,
but they kept rebelling and scheming
and were brought low by their own guilt.u
44Still God had regard for their affliction
when he heard their wailing.
45For their sake he remembered his covenant
and relented in his abundant mercy,v
46Winning for them compassion
from all who held them captive.
47Save us, LORD, our God;
gather us from among the nations
That we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in praising you.w
48*Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
Let all the people say, Amen!x
* [Psalm 106] Israel is invited to praise the God whose mercy has always tempered judgment of Israel (Ps 106:1–3). The speaker, on behalf of all, seeks solidarity with the people, who can always count on God’s fidelity despite their sin (Ps 106:4–5). Confident of God’s mercy, the speaker invites national repentance (Ps 106:6) by reciting from Israel’s history eight instances of sin, judgment, and forgiveness. The sins are the rebellion at the Red Sea (Ps 106:6–12; see Ex 14–15), the craving for meat in the desert (Ps 106:13–15; see Nm 11), the challenge to Moses’ authority (Ps 106:16–18; see Nm 16), the golden calf episode (Ps 106:19–23; see Ex 32–34), the refusal to take Canaan by the southern route (Ps 106:24–27; see Nm 13–14 and Dt 1–2), the rebellion at Baal-Peor (Ps 106:28–31; see Nm 25:1–10), the anger of Moses (Ps 106:32–33; see Nm 20:1–13), and mingling with the nations (Ps 106:34–47). The last, as suggested by its length and generalized language, may be the sin that invites the repentance of the present generation. The text gives the site of each sin: Egypt (Ps 106:7), the desert (Ps 106:14), the camp (Ps 106:16), Horeb (Ps 106:19), in their tents (Ps 106:25), Baal-Peor (Ps 106:28), the waters of Meribah (Ps 106:32), Canaan (Ps 106:38).
* [106:20] Their glory: meant as a reference to God.
* [106:23] Withstood him in the breach: the image is that of Moses standing in a narrow break made in the wall to keep anyone from entering.
* [106:32] Moses suffered because of them: Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land because of his rash words (Nm 20:12). According to Dt 1:37, Moses was not allowed to cross because of the people’s sin, not his own.
* [106:37] Demons: Hebrew shedim occurs in parallelism with “gods” in an important inscription from Transjordan and hence can also be translated “the gods.”
* [106:48] A doxology ending Book IV of the Psalter. It is not part of the Psalm.