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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.

31. And that deed was imputed The prophet, in thus praising one individual, heaps reproach upon the whole body of the people. For we infer from this token of approbation with which the Holy Spirit condescended to stamp the excellent action of Phinehas, how very base their conduct must have been. Neither was this honor reserved for him alone, but his posterity were to enjoy it throughout their succeeding generations. In order, therefore, to cast the greater reproach upon the people, Phinehas alone is contrasted with them. Some may be disposed to inquire, how the zeal of a single individual, overstepping the boundaries 261261     “Lequel outre les limites de sa vocation.” — Fr. of his calling, taking a sword and executing justice, could be approved of God? For it would seem, as if he had ventured upon this action without due consideration. I answer, that the saints have sometimes been under peculiar and extraordinary impulses, which ought not to be estimated by the ordinary standard of actions. When Moses slew the Egyptian, (Exodus 2:12) though not yet called by God to be the deliverer of Israel, and while he was not yet invested with the power of the sword, it is certain, that he was moved by the invisible and internal impulse of God to undertake that deed. Phinehas was moved by a similar impulse. No one indeed imagined that he was armed with the sword of God, yet he was conscious to himself of being moved by a heavenly influence in this matter. And hence it is to be observed, that the common mode and order of calling which God adopts, does not prevent him, whenever it seems proper, to stir up his elect by the secret influence of the Spirit to the performance of praiseworthy deeds.

But a more difficult question still remains, How that one action could be imputed to Phinehas for righteousness? 262262     And it was counted to him for righteousness. Dr Hammond properly observes, that this expression signifies something more than justifying, as being the opposite of condemning; for thus it would denote no more than acquitting Phinehas, who had certainly committed no offense; on the contrary, by this act an offended God was satisfied. He gives to צדקה, therefore, the sense of reward, in which he is supported by the Chaldee, which has לזכו, for merit. Mendlessohn also, in his Beor to Genesis 15:6, where this phrase occurs, assigns to צדקה the meaning of merit or reward. The reward in this case, we learn from the history, consisted in placing the priesthood in his family for ever and ever, as stated in the next portion of the verse. — See Numbers 25:13.” — Phillips. Paul proves that men are justified by faith alone, because it is written,

“Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness,” Romans 4:3

In Genesis 15:6, Moses employs the same word. If the same thing may be said respecting works, the reasoning of Paul will be not only feeble, but frivolous. First of all, let us examine, whether or not Phinehas was justified on account of this deed alone. Verily the law, though it could justify, by no means promises salvation to any one work, but makes justification to consist in the perfect observance of all the commandments. It remains, therefore, that we affirm, that the work of Phinehas was imputed to him for righteousness, in the same way as God imputes the works of the faithful to them for righteousness, not in consequence of any intrinsic merit which they possess, but of his own free and unmerited grace. And as it thus appears, that the perfect observance of the law alone (which is done no where) constitutes righteousness, all men must prostrate themselves with confusion of face before God’s judgment-seat. Besides, were our works strictly examined, they would be found to be mingled with much imperfection. We have, therefore, no other source than to flee for refuge to the free unmerited mercy of God. And not only do we receive righteousness by grace through faith, but as the moon borrows her light from the sun, so does the same faith render our works righteous, because our corruptions being mortified, they are reckoned to us for righteousness. In short, faith alone, and not human merit, procures both for persons and for works the character of righteousness. I now return to Paul. And it is not from a single expression, that he argues that we are justified freely, and by faith only, but he assumes higher principles, to which I lately referred, that all men are destitute of righteousness, until God reconcile them to himself by the blood of Christ; and that faith is the means by which pardon and reconciliation are obtained, because justification by works is no where to be obtained. Hence he very properly concludes, that we are justified by faith alone. But righteousness by works is as it were subordinate (as they say) to the righteousness just mentioned, while works possess no value in themselves, excepting, and as far as, out of pure benevolence, God imputes them to us for righteousness.


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