They did not destroy the peoples
as the Lord had commanded them,
but they mingled with the nations
and adopted their customs.
They worshipped their idols,
which became a snare to them.
They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to false gods.
They shed innocent blood,
the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
and the land was desecrated by their blood.
They defiled themselves by what they did;
by their deeds they prostituted themselves.
Therefore the Lord was angry with his people
and abhorred his inheritance.
He gave them into the hands of the nations,
and their foes ruled over them.
Their enemies oppressed them
and subjected them to their power.
Many times he delivered them,
but they were bent on rebellion
and they wasted away in their sin.
Yet he took note of their distress
when he heard their cry;
for their sake he remembered his covenant
and out of his great love he relented.
He caused all who held them captive
to show them mercy.
Save us, Lord our God,
and gather us from the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise.
Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Let all the people say, ‘Amen!’
Praise the Lord.(Ps. 106:34-48 NIV)
Worldliness is adopting the ways of the world. We are meant to engage in holy war against the world, the flesh and the devil. Giving in to either of these takes us away from the Lord. The Psalmist tells how the people gave in to the world. They were now in the Promised Land and had been allotted their portion of the land. There was still much land to repossess but instead the people intermarried with the Canaanites and adopted their ways. Worse still they worshipped the Canaanite gods. The Canaanite religion required the offering of the life of children as a sacrifice. The people became involved in this grotesque practice. They shed innocent blood in their murderous practices. How far removed they had become from serving the Lord. In many churches in our country today you can find ministers supporting the immoral practices of society. Lifestyles that are so clearly condemned in the Scriptures are promoted in pulpits. The Gospel message, that tells how God has dealt with sin through the death of Christ, is changed to a message which says the Christian message is about eliminating poverty and injustice. The people back then defiled themselves by prostituting themselves to a false god and a false religion.
The Lord was angry with His people and handed them over to other nations during the Exile. The prophets had preached and warned the people what would happen, but they wouldn’t listen. Many times the Lord came to their aid when they cried out, but no sooner were they rescued than they went back to their idolatrous ways. They were totally bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sins.
But even in Exile the Lord heard the cries of the people and He caused their captors to show them favour. The basis of the Lord’s favour is the covenant. The Lord’s covenant love (hesed) was still evident among the exiles.
The Psalmist then petitions the Lord in v47 and prays that God might restore His people, to gather them out from among the nations, back to the land that they might give thanks to the name of the one true God and glory again in the praise of God.
The Psalm ends in doxology. Praise is to be given to the covenant LORD, He is the God of His people. This should not be a temporary offering of praise because the Lord is worthy of perpetual praise from everlasting to everlasting.
The prayer is made in hope that God will respond and all the people respond with, ‘Amen, Praise the Lord.’
We are living through a kind of Exile today. We are exiled from our place of worship. We understand the reasons why the government had to introduce the lockdown. The Lord permitted all this. They say that many people have started to pray, and to listen in to live streaming services. Many people discovered that what they do in the workplace, while important, is not all that life is about. It may take years for us to discover what this was all about. It might be that future generations will see what took place across the world. Whatever our thoughts on the current pandemic, our prayer should be the same as the Psalmist’s.
Save us, O Lord our God, gather us from our isolation, that we might be restored back to our place of worship so that together we may give thanks to Your holy name and glory in the collective worship of the God of our salvation. We thank You for all who have enquired about faith in Christ through these days. We pray that Your Kingdom will be extended, and that Christ will be glorified and honoured because we ask this in His name. Amen.