A Study from Psalm 106:21–27
There are two ways to respond in bad times.
Option 1. You can fix the problem by standing in the gap
Option 2. You can focus on the problem and gripe
Gaps and Gripes, that is what I see in today’s reading from the Psalms.
1. The Gaps
Psalm 106:21–22 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.
Psalm 106 has shown a history of ungratefulness and unfaithfulness in God’s people. The people would forget their blessings and turn away from their Heavenly benefactor only to come begging for his forgiveness. God was good to forgive but again his people would soon forget and restart the sequence.
Psalm 106:23 Therefore 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.
The psalmist reminds us of an event that occurred in Exodus 32. While Moses was on the mountain receiving the commandments from the Lord the people were rejecting God. They pushed Aaron to make an idol of gold in the shape of a calf. Have you ever wondered why they chose a calf? The Egyptian fertility god Apis was portrayed as a bull and was worshipped with all kinds of sexual immorality. That is the reason when Moses came down from the mountain the people weren’t wearing any clothes.
Exodus 32:25 And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)
God had brought them out of Egypt, but they had brought some of the worst of parts of Egypt with them. God’s people had rejected him and were living lewd!
Our holy God does not allow sin to go unpunished indefinitely so look at what he said to Moses.
Exodus 32:10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.
Look at the response of Moses to the Lord.
Exodus 32:32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.
The man of God prayed for them and despite his innocence in this matter he offered to suffer in their stead asking for his life to be taken from the book of the living rather than his people.
Psalm 106:23 … Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, To turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.
Moses saw a gap and filled it rather than simply fussing. God did not destroy the people because a man stood in the gap.
2. The Gripes
Psalm 106:24–27 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.
Despite God’s goodness the people became ungrateful and murmured. They whispered in their tents about all their dissatisfaction with the Lord as though he could not hear them behind a cloth covering. It is worth noting that God doesn’t mind complaint when it comes to the right person. Many of the Psalms themselves are full of lament. He is displeased when we take our complaints around him rather than to him.
Their murmuring brought about no change but certainly brought the displeasure of the Lord. They rewarded his blessing with quiet curses, why wouldn’t he be angry?
I wonder what would happen if instead of observing the problems surrounding us, we addressed them? What if we cried out to God instead of complaining? What if we voted, volunteered and invested for a change?
Let it not be said in our day what God said in Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
So, there are our options. Fill the gap or gripe, which do you choose?
PS. Before I go, I am reminded of the great gap between men and God. Our sin had created a chasm that no man could cross. Mankind in his depravity could not approach Holy God but someone filled the gap. Jesus suspended between Heaven and Earth on an old wooden cross made man with God a possibility. What Moses offered; Jesus Christ fulfilled giving his innocent life instead of the guilty.
Have you accepted his gift?