Confession of Sin
This psalm is the final psalm of Book 4 and paired with 105 both take a look back over the wilderness journey – that journey of faith from Abraham onwards. While the former praises the LORD God for His faithfulness, this makes confession of man’s faithlessness. The previous focuses on the period from Abraham to the Red Sea, while this takes up the story from that point and into the land. But first, there is praise!
Personal Praise (v1-5)
‘Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever’.
How thankful we are that our God is good and merciful. We know what is coming regarding confession of sin, and we would be overwhelmed by it were it not for this fact: ‘he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever’. Let us once more give thanks – Hallelujah!
‘Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times’.
How true it is that those who act justly and do what is right will be greatly blessed. We know this is the path of blessing, yet continually struggle to stay on this path, so we ought to continually pray:
‘Remember me, O LORD, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation’
Taking up the language of the previous psalm, ‘remember me’ (one reason why many consider both to be by same author) the psalmist calls upon the Lord’s favour personally, and nationally: ‘visit me with thy salvation’.
What a prayer of faith this is? If written by David, this prayer would not be fully answered for another thousand years. ‘But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law’ (Gal 4:4,5). And Zechariah could proclaim, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David’ (Luke 1:68,69).
‘That 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’
Finally, the psalmist supplicates the LORD for three things, not for himself, but for his nation, God’s chosen. He wanted to see them prosper spiritually; he wanted to rejoice with them in the joy of their salvation (Roms 12:15, 3 John 1:4); he wanted to join with his people, God’s inheritance, in a time of praise, glorifying God.
Corporate Confession (v6-43)
Now, the man of God takes up the burden of sin that weighs heavy upon the nation, and on their behalf, makes confession. Is this not something we need in our day? Truly, if confession is good for the personal soul, it is good for the national soul, and truly there is much to confess now, as there was then:
1) The Sin of Provocation
They ‘provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea. Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known’ (v6-12)
2) The Sin of Lust
‘But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul’ (v13-15)
3) The Sin of Jealousy
‘They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the LORD. The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan’ (v16-18)
4) The Sin of Idolatry
‘They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image … They forgat God their saviour … Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach’ (v19-23)
5) The Sin of Unbelief
‘Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word … Therefore he lifted up his hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness’ (v24-27)
6) The Sin of Fornication
‘They joined themselves also unto Baalpeor … and the plague brake in upon them. Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed’ (v28-31)
7) The Sin of Rebellion
‘They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes’ (v32,33)
8) Sin Multiplied leads to Bondage
‘Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance. And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them’ (v34-43)
‘Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry: And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies’ (v44-46)
What grace is seen in the word ‘nevertheless’? Used at the beginning (v8) and end (v44) of their catalogue of corruption, it shows us that no matter how far they wandered, when they turned back to the Lord and cried for help, the Lord’s merciful heart was stirred: ‘He regarded their affliction’. Then His mind concurred: ‘He remembered His covenant’. Finally, His face turned: ‘he repented’ – turned from judgment – ‘according to the multitude of His mercies’.
This psalm of penitence is a fitting end to this book of the wilderness journey, for certainly our pilgrim paths down here are constantly marked by failure. However, the psalm is not finished yet …
For the psalm ends, preparing us for book five, by lifting our heads and hearts, in hope of being gathered unto Him in thanksgiving and praise.
‘Save 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’ (v47)
Then, rejoicing in all God’s blessings toward us, the psalmist responds by calling ‘all the people’ to bless the Lord; to speak well of him; to say ‘Amen’
‘Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD’ (v48).