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106. Psalm 106

Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

2Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? who can shew forth all his praise?

3Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times.

4Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation;

5That I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.

6We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.

7Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea.

8Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.

9He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.

10And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.

11And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left.

12Then believed they his words; they sang his praise.

13They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel:

14But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.

15And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.

16They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the Lord.

17The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram.

18And a fire was kindled in their company; the flame burned up the wicked.

19They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image.

20Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.

21They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt;

22Wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea.

23Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.

24Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word:

25But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord.

26Therefore he lifted up his hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness:

27To overthrow their seed also among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands.

28They joined themselves also unto Baalpeor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead.

29Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them.

30Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed.

31And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.

32They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes:

33Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.

34They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the Lord commanded them:

35But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.

36And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them.

37Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils,

38And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.

39Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions.

40Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance.

41And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them.

42Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand.

43Many times did he deliver them; but they provoked him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity.

44Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry:

45And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies.

46He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives.

47Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise.

48Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the Lord.

19. They made a calf. 250250     This idol seems to have been an imitation of the Egyptian God Apis, or Serapis, a word which signifies the head of an ox, the Egyptians having exalted that animal to the rank of a god whom they absurdly worshipped, and to whom they resorted as to an oracle. “The modern Jews assert, that their ancestors were in that matter misled by certain Egyptian proselytes, who had accompanied the Israelites when they were delivered from their bondage. The Psalmist, it may be remarked, does not observe the order of time in his narrative, the making of the calf being prior to the fate of Dathan and Abiram. — Comp. Exodus 32:4, 5.” — Cresswell. Here he represents their rebellion as exceedingly base, in that they abandoned the true worship of God, and made to themselves a calf. For although it was their intention to worship God in this manner, yet the prophet reprehends their brutal stupidity, because they worshipped before the molten image, 251251     “More properly, ‘the overlaid image;’ or, more literally still, ‘the metalline shell.’” — Horsley. “The Hebrew word,” says Mant, “here, as elsewhere, rendered by our translators ‘molten image,’ strictly and properly means ‘the metalline case’ or ‘covering spread over’ the carved wood. It is often joined with the ‘carved wooden, image’ which it covered. Aaron’s calf was thus made of wood, and overlaid with gold.” and represented God by the figure of an ox which eateth grass 252252     “That eateth hay — the Egyptians, when they consulted Apis, presented a bottle of hay or of grass, and if the ox received it, they expected good success.” — Cresswell. From this the prophet infers, that God had been robbed of his honor, and that all his glory had been tarnished. And surely it is so; for although the idolaters feign to serve God with great zeal, yet when, at the same time, they represent to themselves a God visible, they abandon the true God, and impiously make for themselves an idol. But he reproaches them with being guilty of still greater impiety, when he says, after the likeness of an ox that eateth grass; and contrasts with it their honor or glory. For seeing that God had clothed them with his own glory, what madness was it to substitute in place of him not only an ox, but the inanimate form of an ox, as if there were any resemblance between God who createth all kinds of food, and that stupid animal which feeds upon grass?

It is necessary, however, to observe the design of the prophet, which is to point out the blindness of men as more base and abominable, because not contenting themselves with any common form of superstition, but casting off all sham they give themselves up to the most shocking forms of worshipping God. Had the people formed for themselves a likeness of God under the likeness of a man, even that would have been impiously robbing God of his due; how much more shameful was their conduct when they assimilated God to an ox? When men preserve their life by eating and drinking, they acknowledge how frail they are, because they derive 253253     “Empruntent des creatures mortes la continuation d’icelle.” — Fr. from dead creatures the means of its continuation. How much greater is the dishonor done to God when he is compared to the brutal tribes? Moreover, the comparison referred to increases the enormity of their guilt. For what credit was it for a holy people to worship the inanimate likeness of an ox instead of the true God? But God had condescended to spread out the overshadowing wings of his glory upon the children of Abraham, that he might put on them the highest honor. Therefore, in denuding themselves of this honor, they had exposed their own baseness to the derision of all the nations of the earth. And hence Moses employs the phrase of nakedness, when he is showing that crime of idolatry:

“And when Moses saw that the people were naked, (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies)”
Exodus 32:25.

Should any one be disposed to say that the ark of the covenant was a representation of God, my answer is, That that symbol was given to the children of Israel, not to engross the whole of their attention, but only for the purpose of assisting and directing them in the spiritual worship of God.


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