Our fathers made a calf in Horeb
and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating bullock.
They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
terrible things at the Red Sea.
Then he spoke of exterminating them,
but Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach
to turn back his destructive wrath.
(Psalm 106:19-20, 21-22, 23)
106:19-23 The psalmist recounts the story of the golden calf in Exod 32:1–6
106:19 Horeb Another name for Sinai, where God revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses.
106:22 Ham One of Noah’s sons; here his name is used to refer to Egypt (see Gen 10:6).
106:23 he would exterminate them Recounts the exchange between Yahweh and Moses in Exod 32:7–14.
Israel had learned that sin is intergenerational and social. If any penitence does not comprehend that, it fails to grasp the profundity and tragedy of the sinful predicament. Paul found in verse 20 the clue to the fundamental error that underlies all sin in the human race, and he seems to have drawn broadly on the language of Psalm 106 in his depiction of universal sin (Rom. 1:18–32.)
Though the focus of the psalm is on case studies of Israel’s failure, it never loses confidence that the determining factor of God’s way with sinful Israel is the relationship that God has initiated. Because of the abundance of his steadfast everlasting love he saved them, in spite of their sin, again and again. But the psalm has an important understanding of how God’s just wrath is restrained from the destruction of his people.
Deliverance from punishment does not come automatically. At the Red Sea the LORD acted because his name and power were at issue. But when Israel itself rejected the name and power by idolatry and apostasy, only the intercession of Moses turned away the wrath. The psalm gives the office of the intercessor a significant place in God’s relation to his sinful people. God answers when he hears the cry that they lift up on behalf of sinners.
– James Mays
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.