Volume 21, Issue 51 (December 22, 2019)
“Remember His Marvelous Works”
By Kyle Pope
Not all people enjoy the study of history. For some it is an arduous task that is not relevant to our modern day lives. Others are fascinated by the people, cultures, and events that went before us. While it is not necessary for the child of God to become an expert in ancient history, the Holy Spirit teaches us in Psalm 105 that an appreciation of God’s marvelous works in the past should lead those who would serve Him to certain behavior in the present.
An overview of the Psalm reveals that the writer starts with ten instructions that recollection of God’s deeds in the past should lead us to carry out. (We will come back to these below). The Psalmist then calls the reader’s attention to how God has honored His covenant with Abraham.
1. He has protected His people from their enemies (vss. 13-15). “He permitted no one to do them wrong; yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes” (105:14, NKJV). If the context follows a historical order, this may refer to God’s warning to Abimelech, king of Gerar when he might have harmed Abraham in order to take Sarah for himself (Gen. 20:3).
2. God has put His own people in positions of power (vss. 16-22). Through the providence of God, when the family of Jacob might have perished in the famine, God allowed Joseph’s misfortune to become the salvation of the Israelites (Gen. 50:20).
3. God allowed Israel to increase in number (vss. 23-25). “He increased His people greatly, And made them stronger than their enemies.” (105:24). Although in a strange land of pagan gods, Israel flourished and grew in number even after Joseph (Exodus 1:7).
4. God delivered Israel from Egyptian oppression (vss. 26-36). Through the plagues that God brought upon Egypt this mighty nation was forced to release the very people they had once oppressed. “Egypt was glad when they departed, for the fear of them had fallen upon them” (105:38).
5. God provided for the needs of His people (vss. 37-41). The Psalmist recounts God’s miraculous provision for Israel in the wilderness leading them by cloud and fire (vs. 39), feeding them with quail and manna (vs. 40) and giving them water from the rock in the midst of a parched wasteland (vs. 41). The Psalmist ends with a brief summary of what the result of all this was (vss. 42-44) and why God had done it (vs. 45).
The ten admonitions at the beginning of the Psalm are powerful commands that speak to the one who would serve God about what God’s deeds in the past should produce in us. These fall into three categories:
I. Laudatory Instructions. “Oh, give thanks to the LORD!” (105:1a). Gratitude is so important for children of God. It leads us to view things in perspective and prevents us from ignoring blessing we have already received. “Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him” (105:2a). For God’s people music is more than entertainment, it is a gesture of worship and a vehicle of praise. “Glory in His holy name” (105:3a). When God’s people witness, through the recounting of biblical events, the grandeur of God’s glory, they should themselves “glory” in the realization that they serve such a glorious God. This can only happen if His people, “Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth” (105:5). The child of God should never view biblical history as boring or irrelevant, because it reveals to us the very things which should motivate us to faith and inspire within us a longing for the promises of God in the future.
II. Exclamatory Instructions. “Make known His deeds among the peoples!” (105:1c). The one who truly believes and understands what God has done will be compelled to declare such things to other people. “Talk of all His wondrous works!” (105:2). If a follower of the Lord finds it difficult to talk to other people about the truth, it may be because he or she either does not know as much about God’s deeds as one should or the person doesn’t fully believe in His “wondrous works.” The Holy Spirit shows us in this Psalm that a true understanding of God’s works should create within us an evangelistic zeal to tell other people about what God has done.
III. Probatory Instructions. The child of God is one who has, and continues to “Call upon His name” (105:1b). From the time in which Seth, the third son of Adam had his own son Enosh, human beings have “called” on the name of the Lord (Gen. 4:26). This is not prayer alone, but directing our trust and obedience towards the Lord. It is seeking His guidance, His blessings and a willingness to follow His way within our lives. “Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!” (105:3). Three statements are made about “seeking” God. First, those who do so should rejoice. It is the purpose and focus of our lives and all that God has done for us to seek Deity (see Acts 17:26-27). This should not be a chore, but something about which we rejoice. Second, we should “Seek the LORD and His strength” (105:4a). The great power of God that is demonstrated in God’s great deeds in the past should lead His people to seek for even greater wonders in the age to come. Third, we must “Seek His face evermore!” (105:4b). While in this life we cannot see the face of the Lord and live (Exod. 33:20), our hope is that in the age to come we may eternally behold Him as He is (1 John 3:2).
Finally, let’s notice the last words of the Psalm. All that God had done for Israel had put them in a position, when the Psalmist wrote, that they could with confidence recognize that God kept His word (vs. 42). They had been brought out of Egypt (vs. 43) and given a new land for which they had not worked, but which was “the labor of the nations” (vs. 44). They should have learned from that to trust the Lord and be faithful to Him. Sadly, Israel as a whole did not.
Why then had God done these great deeds? The Psalm ends with an answer to this question: “That they might observe His statutes and keep His laws. Praise the LORD!” (105:45). God wants the obedience of His people. This has been true in all ages and it remains true today. When the Christian looks back at God’s deeds in the past he should allow the remembrance of God’s “marvelous works” to move him to greater faith, confidence and obedience to God in the present. After all, in Christ God has done even more marvelous things for us.