Psalm 106. Learning From History.

Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 106. (MsgB)

We’ve sinned a lot, both we and our parents;
We’ve fallen short, hurt a lot of people.


True confessions of a true follower of God. Too bad there aren’t more of this kind of God-follower in our generation, don’t you think?

Those who can review the past with gut-honest eyes. Individuals who have no need to defend stupidity. Humble men and women who have no problem admitting sin yet know with certainty that God is kind-hearted and compassionate, ready to accept our true confessions and move on.

It’s been said that wise people learn from other people’s errors; intelligent people learn from their own; but fools never learn at all. A review of Psalm 106 makes me think that this psalmist must be one of those very intelligent fellows who has learned a lot of life lessons from history. His parents’. And his own.

It was the German philosopher,Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, who was credited with this saying: “We learn from history that people learn nothing from history.”  Another philosopher named George (George Santayana) said this: “Those who cannot remember the past are destined to relive it.” As I see it, the writer of Psalm 106 would have fit right in with these two George’s. After forty-two long verses reviewing the sad history of God’s people and their inability to learn from the past, the psalmist states this:

Over and over God rescued them, but they never learned—until finally their sins destroyed them. 

Ouch.

Makes me wonder why we God-followers seem to be so unwilling to learn from our past? So non-compromising with a God who knows full well that we will fail in our best attempts to do good?

I marvel at the way the psalmist states the obvious here…

Still, when God saw the trouble they were in and heard their cries for help,
He remembered His Covenant with them, and, immense with love, took them by the hand.
He poured out His mercy on them while their captors looked on, amazed.

Amazed, indeed! What an amazing God we have! A Divine Creator who has every right to say, “I told you so, you idiots!” but instead, sends His Son to take on the consequences of our stupidity, and then look down upon our pitiful souls and say, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do!”

As a man who now is getting well into his sixties, I think I’m just now starting to get it. Maybe after all these years of trying my very best to do my very best for God, the truth is finally getting through this hard skull of mine.

I’m a unfaithful screwball. I’m a twerp, like all of God’s people, who say to God, “I will follow You” but within moments of that statement, find myself playing in my own pile of doo-doo.

You know the kind of fool I mean?

One who says boldly to others, “Follow Christ, just as I have been following Christ”, but then, in the darkness of my own true confessions, find that I’m just as much of a guilty sinner as the guy or gal out there who could care less about God.

I don’t know about you, but I find the psalmist’s short and true confession very refreshing.

We’ve sinned a lot, both we and our parents;
We’ve fallen short, hurt a lot of people.

Save us, God, our God! Gather us back out of exile so we can give thanks to Your holy name and join in the glory when You are praised!

Blessed be God, Israel’s God! Bless now, bless always! Oh! Let everyone say Amen!
Hallelujah!

As I see it, I couldn’t have said it better myself!

My prayer: Father, forgive me. If I’m gut-honest about the past, I’m learning that I’ve not learned from the past. Enlighten me, God, to the truth that we’ve all sinned and fallen short of Your glory. Me. My parents. My fellow followers of God. We all need a Savior. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: How am I overlooking the long, sad history of God-followers and believing the lie that I’m doing OK, thank you, following God through my own good intentions? Have I written off the failures of the past to such a degree that I don’t believe I will re-live them? What kind of wake up call do I need to become not just a wise man who learns from others’ failures, but an intelligent man who is learning from my own?

So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?


Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.

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