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Psalm 106


Israel's Rebelliousness and the Lord's Deliverance
No MT Intro
Joy in Forgiveness of Israel's Sins The Story of God's Great Deeds, with Confession of Sin and Prayer for Help The Lord's Goodness to His People National Confession of Guilt
106:1-3 106:1a 106:1-3 106:1-3 106:1-2
106:4-5 106:4-5 106:4-5 106:4-5 106:4c-5
106:6-12 106:6-7 106:6-12 106:6-12 106:6-7b
106:13-15 106:13-15 106:13-15 106:13-15 106:13-14
106:16-18 106:16-18 106:16-18 106:16-18  
106:19-27 106:19-23 106:19-23 106:19-23 106:19-20
  106:24-27 106:24-27 106:24-27 106:24-25
106:28-31 106:28-31 106:28-31 106:28-31 106:28-29
106:32-33 106:32-33 106:32-33 106:32-33 106:32-33
106:34-39 106:34-39 106:34-39 106:34-39 106:34-35
106:40-43 106:40-43 106:40-43 106:40-46  
106:44-46 106:44-46 106:44-46    
106:47-48 106:47 106:47 106:47 106:47
  106:48a-c 106:48 106:48a-c 106:48
  106:48d   106:48d  

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



A. If Psalm 105 is a history of YHWH's salvation/deliverance of Abraham and his descendants; then Psalm 106 is a history of their continuous rebellion. YHWH is faithful; His people are faithless!

B. The books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Judges are the focus of the vast majority of the historical allusions. Here is a list of them.

1. Ps. 106:7 - Exod. 14:11-12 19. Ps. 106:29 - Num. 25:4

2. Ps. 106:9 - Exod. 14:21 20. Ps. 106:30 - Num. 25:7,8

3. Ps. 106:10 - Exod. 14:30 21. Ps. 106:31 - Num. 25:11-13

4. Ps. 106:11 - Exod. 14:28; 15:5 22. Ps. 106:32 - Num. 20:2-13

5. Ps. 106:12 - Exod. 14:31 23. Ps. 106:33 - Num. 20:3,10

6. Ps. 106:13 - Exod. 15:24; 16:2; 17:2 24. Ps. 106:34 - Jdgs. 1:21,27-36; Deut. 7:2,16

7. Ps. 106:14 - Exod. 17:2; Num. 11:4 25. Ps. 106:35 - Jdgs. 3:5,6

8. Ps. 106:15 - Num. 11:31 26. Ps. 106:36 - Jdgs. 2:12

9. Ps. 106:16 - Num. 16:3 27. Ps. 106:37 - Deut. 12:31; 32:17

 10. Ps. 106:17 - Num. 16:32 28. Ps. 106:38 - Num. 35:33; Deut. 18:10

 11. Ps. 106:18 - Num. 16:35 29. Ps. 106:39 - Lev. 17:7; 18:24; Num. 15:39; Jdgs. 2:17

 12. Ps. 106:19 - Exod. 32:4; Deut. 9:8 30. Ps. 106:40 - Lev. 26:30; Deut. 32:19; Jdgs. 2:14

 13. Ps. 106:23 - Exod. 32:10,11-14; Deut. 9:14,25-29 31. Ps. 106:41 - Jdgs. 2:14

 14. Ps. 106:24 - Num. 14:31; Deut. 1:32; 9:23 32. Ps. 106:42 - Jdgs. 4:3; 10:12

 15. Ps. 106:25 - Num. 14:2; Deut. 1:27 33. Ps. 106:43 - Jdgs. 2:16-18; 6:6

 16. Ps. 106:26 - Num. 14:28-35 34. Ps. 106:44 - Jdgs. 3:9; 6:7; 10:10

 17. Ps. 106:27 - Deut. 4:27 35. Ps. 106:45 - Lev. 26:42; Jdgs. 2:18

 18. Ps. 106:28 - Num. 25:2,3; Deut. 4:3 36. Ps. 106:46 - 2 Chr. 30:9; Ezra 9:9; Neh. 1:11

C. As is often true in the Psalter, the fluctuation between singular and plural may be connected to an editor converting an individual psalm into a corporate/liturgical psalm.



 1Praise the Lord!
 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
 For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
 2Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the Lord,
 Or can show forth all His praise?
 3How blessed are those who keep justice,
 Who practice righteousness at all times!

106:1-3 This first strophe has two themes.

1. description of YHWH

a. He is good (BDB 373 II, cf. 2 Chr. 5:13; 7:3; Ps. 25:8; 86:5; 100:5; 107:1; 118:1,29; 145:9)

b. His lovingkindness (see Special Topic: Lovingkindness [hesed]) and Special Topic: Forever ['olam])

2. description of His true followers

a. they speak of His mighty deeds

b. they praise Him

c. they keep justice (see Special Topic: Judge, Justice, and Judgment)

d. they (see LXX, Peshitta, Vulgate, MT, "he") practice righteousness (see SPECIAL TOPIC: RIGHTEOUSNESS)

This description is crucial because what follows is repeated historical allusion to Israel's faithlessness.

106:1 The Psalm begins and ends with commands to praise.

1. praise - BDB 237, KB 248, Piel imperative, Ps. 106:1, cf. 107:1; 118:1,29; 136:1

2. give thanks (lit. praise) - BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperative, Ps. 106:1, cf. 1 Chr. 16:41

3. praise - same as #1, Ps. 106:48

Faithful followers praise Him by how they speak of Him and how they live like Him! Blessed is the person who obeys the Lord (cf. Psalm 1).

106:2 "mighty deeds" This refers to YHWH's acts of deliverance and provision. This theme is continued from Psalm 105 (see full note on the seven occurrences in Psalm 105 at 105:1-7 notes).

1. mighty deeds, Ps. 106:2 - BDB 150, cf. Deut. 3:24; Ps. 20:6; 71:16; 145:4,12; 150:2; Isa. 63:15

2. wonders, Ps. 106:7 - BDB 810 (see note at Ps. 105:1-7)

3. works, Ps. 106:13 - BDB 795, cf. Jos. 24:31; Ps. 33:4; 93:5

4. great things, Ps. 106:21 - BDB 152, i.e., esp. in Egypt, cf. Deut. 10:21; here; but also of YHWH's other acts in Job 5:9; 9:10; 37:5; Ps. 71:19; 126:2

5. wonders, Ps. 106:22 - same as #2

6. wonders (lit. "terrible things" ), Ps. 106:22 - BDB 431, KB 432, Niphal participle, cf. Deut. 10:21; 2 Sam. 7:23; 1 Chr. 17:21; Ps. 66:3; 145:6; Isa. 64:3


106:3 "at all times" This is a crucial aspect to discipleship. Godly living is a full-time task! Now, remember this is an OT setting. It reflects "the two ways" of Deut. 30:15,19; Psalm 1. The quote at Gal. 3:10-12 illustrates the performance-based OT covenant. Even though NT believers are not under the OT (cf. Acts 15), once we know God in Christ, we live for Him "at all times." We do this, not to be accepted but because we are/have been accepted! The goal of biblical faith is not heaven someday, but Christlikeness every day (cf. Rom. 8:28-29; 2 Cor. 3:18; 7:1; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:4; 2:10; 4:13; 1 Thess. 3:13; 4:3,7; 5:23; 1 Pet. 1:15)!

 4Remember me, O Lord, in Your favor toward Your people;
 Visit me with Your salvation,
 5That I may see the prosperity of Your chosen ones,
 That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation,
 That I may glory with Your inheritance.

106:4-5 This strophe begins with two imperatives used as a prayer.

1. remember me - BDB 269, KB 269, Qal imperative

2. visit me (lit. "help") - BDB 823, KB 955, Qal imperative

The LXX, Peshitta, and Vulgate have "us" instead of "me."

These verses seem to reflect a person in exile (cf. Ps. 106:47, i.e., because of all the sins of His covenant people, 106:6), who is praying to live long enough to experience YHWH's restoration of His people. He mentions several phrases that point toward YHWH's merciful covenant (i.e., remember).

1. Your favor - Ps. 106:4

2. Your chosen ones - Ps. 106:5

3. Your nation - Ps. 106:5

4. Your inheritance - Ps. 106:5


106:5 Notice the three infinitive constructs.

 1. that I may see - BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal

2. that I may rejoice - BDB 970, KB 1333, Qal

3. that I may glory - BDB 237, KB 248, Hithpael

Notice that all three have a corporate focus.

1. Your chosen ones

2. Your nation

3. Your inheritance

Be careful of an exclusive, individualistic emphasis related to salvation. We are saved to serve the family of God/the body of Christ. Too much focus on the individual opens the spiritual door to the sins of Eden (Genesis 3).

▣ "Your nation" The Hebrew word translated "nation" ( BDB 156) is usually a negative term referring to Gentiles (i.e., Ps. 2:1,8; 9:5,15,17,19,20) but it can be used of Israel, as here (cf. Gen. 12:2; Deut. 4:6-8; Ps. 33:12; Isa. 26:2; Jer. 31:36).

 6We have sinned like our fathers,
 We have committed iniquity, we have behaved wickedly.
 7Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders;
 They did not remember Your abundant kindnesses,
 But rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.
 8Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name,
 That He might make His power known.
 9Thus He rebuked the Red Sea and it dried up,
 And He led them through the deeps, as through the wilderness.
 10So He saved them from the hand of the one who hated them,
 And redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.
 11The waters covered their adversaries;
 Not one of them was left.
 12Then they believed His words;
 They sang His praise.

106:6-12 This strophe focuses on the Exodus.

1. the current people of God (Ps. 106:6)

a. they sinned like their fathers (perfect)

b. they committed iniquity (perfect)

c. they behaved wickedly (perfect)

2. our fathers (Ps. 106:7, cf. Lev. 26:40; Neh. 9:32-34; Jer. 3:25; Dan. 9:8,16)

a. did not understand Your wonders

b. did not remember Your abundant kindnesses (cf. Jdgs. 8:34; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 78:42)

c. rebelled by the sea

3. never-the-less YHWH still acted (Ps. 106:8-11) on their behalf

a. He saved them

b. He made His power known (i.e., revealed His character in His acts, cf. Ps. 98:2; 103:7)

c. He rebuked the Red Sea (for this unusual verb see Ps. 104:7)

d. He led them through

e. He saved them

f. He redeemed them

4. after all of YHWH's acts they did believe (cf. Exod. 14:31; see Special Topic: Believe, Trust, Faith and Faithfulness in the OT) and praised Him (Ps. 106:12)

Some scholars see this verse as denoting a national confession of sin during a feast day at the temple. The plea for forgiveness is in Ps. 106:47 and the confidence in YHWH's grace is in Ps. 106:48.

106:7 "at the sea" There seems to be a repetition in the MT. Many modern translations (NRSV, NJB, NAB) take the consonants from "at the sea" and combine them into a name for YHWH (cf. Ps. 78:17,56; Dan. 7:18,22,25) to get one title for God.

1. Most High - NRSV, NJB, NAB

2. Almighty - TEV


▣ "the red sea" See Special Topic: Red Sea

106:8 This verse focuses on the larger redemptive purpose of YHWH in the Exodus (see Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan). He wanted the nations

1. to fear Israel

2. to know Him

The problem is that Israel never fully kept the covenant (cf. Ps. 106:6-7). The nations received a distorted revelation (cf. Ezek. 36:22-23), so YHWH needed to develop a new way (i.e., a new covenant, cf. Jer. 31:32-34) to reach them. He revealed Himself (cf. Ezek. 36:23-32).

106:10 "redeemed" See Special Topic: Ransom/Redeem.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 106:13-15
 13They quickly forgot His works;
 They did not wait for His counsel,
 14But craved intensely in the wilderness,
 And tempted God in the desert.
 15So He gave them their request,
 But sent a wasting disease among them.

106:13-15 This strophe is theologically tied to the previous one (Ps. 106:6-12). Israel's repentance, confession, and belief did not last.

The structural features of Ps. 106:6-12 are repeated.

1. their acts, Ps. 106:13-14

a. they quickly forgot (often a warning, cf. Deut. 4:9; 6:12; 8:14; Ps. 103:2) His word (cf. Ps. 106:24)

b. they did not wait for His counsel

c. they craved intensely (Num. 11:4)

2. YHWH's response

a. He gave them their evil desires (i.e., food, cf. Num. 11:4-6,31; Ps. 78:29-31; also note Rom. 1:24,26,28)

b. He sent a wasting disease (cf. Num. 11:33; see a good brief discussion in Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, p. 136)


106:14 "And tempted God in the desert" This verb (BDB 650, KB 702, Piel imperfect with waw) is used to describe Israel's unbelief during the exodus and wandering period (i.e., in the desert). This unbelief is expressed by their attacks on YHWH's leadership team (i.e., Moses and Aaron, cf. Exod. 5:21; 14:11; 15:24; 16:2; 17:2,3; 32:1; Num. 11:1,4; 14:1,2; 21:5; Ps. 106:16). This very verb is used in Exod. 17:2,7; Num. 14:22; Deut. 6:16; 33:8; Ps. 78:18,41,56; 95:9.

It is interesting to note that several times this verb is used of God testing His people (cf. Gen. 22:1; Exod. 15:25; 16:4; 20:20; Deut. 8:2,16; 13:3; Jdgs. 2:22; 3:1,4; see SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD TESTS HIS PEOPLE.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 106:16-18
 16When they became envious of Moses in the camp,
 And of Aaron, the holy one of the Lord,
 17The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan,
 And engulfed the company of Abiram.
 18And a fire blazed up in their company;
 The flame consumed the wicked.

106:16-18 This strophe reflects Numbers 16, the wilderness wandering period.

106:16 "the holy one of the Lord" This refers to Aaron as the High Priest. There was a controversy in Numbers 16 over who was the true leader of Israel (cf. Num. 16:1-7). Aaron's special holiness connected to being the High Priest is seen in his clothing as described in Exodus 28, especially verse 36.

106:18 "fire" There are several places in Numbers where fire is used for judgment.

1. Nadab and Abihu - killed by fire for offering "strange fire," Num. 3:4; 26:61

2. YHWH's fire on the complaining Israelites - Num. 11:1-3

3. Korah's rebellion - Num. 16:35; 26:10

In Exod. 24:17 and Deut. 4:24, the glory of the Lord is described as a devouring fire (see SPECIAL TOPIC: FIRE). This denotes the Shekinah cloud of glory that led and protected the Israelites.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 106:19-27
 19They made a calf in Horeb
 And worshiped a molten image.
 20Thus they exchanged their glory
 For the image of an ox that eats grass.
 21They forgot God their Savior,
 Who had done great things in Egypt,
 22Wonders in the land of Ham
 And awesome things by the Red Sea.
 23Therefore He said that He would destroy them,
 Had not Moses His chosen one stood in the breach before Him,
 To turn away His wrath from destroying them.
 24Then they despised the pleasant land;
 They did not believe in His word,
 25But grumbled in their tents;
 They did not listen to the voice of the Lord.
 26Therefore He swore to them
 That He would cast them down in the wilderness,
 27And that He would cast their seed among the nations
 And scatter them in the lands.

106:19-27 This strophe reflects Exodus 32 and Numbers 14.

106:19 "made a calf" The calf was intended to be a physical representation of YHWH (cf. Exod. 32:8; note the two golden calves of Jeroboam I at Dan and Bethel). It was made from some of the gold given to the Israelites by the Egyptians. But, it also reminded the Israelites of an Egyptian fertility god (cf. Exod. 32:6,19).

The calf was also used as a symbol in Canaanite fertility worship for El and Ba'al (i.e., Ras Shamra texts).

▣ "Horeb" This Hebrew root (BDB 352, KB 349) means "waste" or "desert." It is the term used most often in Deuteronomy for "the mountain where YHWH met Israel." In Exodus and Numbers it is called "Sinai" (BDB 696), which is a non-Hebrew word. It may be related to the "Wilderness of Sin" (BDB 95, cf. Exod. 16:1; 17:1; Num. 233:11,12). The term is often associated with a small desert bush.


106:20 What a shocking verse! God's own people turned from the one true God to an idol (cf. Jer. 2:11-13; as do all humans, Rom. 1:21-23)!

106:22 "in the land of Ham" Ham (BDB 325 I) is one of he sons of Noah. He was the father of several nations (Genesis 10).

1. Egypt (Mizraim), cf. Ps. 78:51; 105:23,27

2. Canaan


106:23 YHWH expressed to Moses that He was going to destroy them and start over with him, as He had done with Abraham (cf. Exod. 32:10).

Moses interceded with YHWH on Israel's behalf (cf. Exod. 32:11-13). I think this was a test for the strengthening of Moses. YHWH changed His mind (cf. Exod. 32:14) and responded to Moses' prayer. See Special Topic: Intercessory Prayer.

106:24 Several times Israel refused to believe YHWH about His giving them the land of Canaan (cf. Num. 14:1-3,31; 20:3-4; Deut. 9:23; Ezek. 20:5-8).

▣ "He swore to them" The verb (BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperfect with waw) literally means "to lift up" (i.e., the hand in a gesture to swear an oath), YHWH's promise in Gen. 15:18. This is alluded to in Exod. 6:8; Num. 14:30; Neh. 9:15.

106:27 The two verbs refer to exile.

1. cast (lit. "cause to fall") - BDB 656, KB 709, Hiphil infinitive construct, cf. Ps. 106:26b

2. scatter - BDB 279, KB 280, Piel infinitive construct

This was an early warning against covenant disobedience, cf. Lev. 26:33; Deut. 4:27; 28:64; 29:28; Ps. 44:11; Ezek. 20:23. As YHWH drove out the Canaanite tribes because of their sins (cf. Gen. 15:12-21), now in impartial judgment, He does the same to Israel! Sin has consequences!

One more thought about exile. As painful and shameful as it was, it facilitated YHWH's spreading the message about Himself. The problem was that Israel continued to give the wrong message (cf. Ezek. 36:22-23).

The "new covenant" of Jer. 31:31-34 will focus on YHWH revealing Himself by His gracious acts to rebellious Israel (cf. Ezek. 36:24-38).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 106:28-31
 28They joined themselves also to Baal-peor,
 And ate sacrifices offered to the dead.
 29Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds,
 And the plague broke out among them.
 30Then Phinehas stood up and interposed,
 And so the plague was stayed.
 31And it was reckoned to him for righteousness,
 To all generations forever.

106:28-31 This strophe relates to Numbers 25. Israel became involved with the fertility worship of Moab. Idolatry was a major problem in Israel's history. I have included my notes from Deut. 18:10-11. See Special Topic: Fertility Worship of the ANE.

Deut. 18:10-11 There is a series of participles, which denote Canaanite idolatry:

1. NASB, "who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire" - BDB 716, KB 778, Hiphil participle

2. NASB, "one who uses divination" - BDB 890, KB 1115, Qal participle (uses both verb and noun)

NKJV, NET, "one who practices witchcraft"

NRSV, NJB, NIV, "who practices divination"

JPSOA, "an augur"

3. NASB, "one who practices witchcraft" - BDB 778 II KB 857, Poel participle

NKJV, NRSV, NJB, JPSOA, "a sooth sayer"

NIV, "sorcery"

NET, "an omen reader"

4. NASB, NKJV, NIV, "one who interprets omens" - BDB 638 II, KB 690, Piel participle

NRSV, NJB, "an augur"

JPSOA, "a diviner"

NET, "a soothsayer"

5. NASB, NKJV, NRSV, NJB, JPSOA, NET, "a sorcerer" - BDB 506, KB 503, Piel participle

NIV, "engages in witchcraft"

6. NASB, "one who casts a spell" - BDB 287, KB 287, Qal participle (uses verb and noun)

NKJV, "one who conjures spells"

NRSV, JPSOA, NIV, NET, "one who casts spells"

NJB, "weaver of spells"

7. NASB, NKJV, "one who inquires" (i.e., a medium) - BDB 981, KB 1371, Qal participle

NRSV, JPSOA, "consults ghosts"

NJB, "consulter of ghosts"

NIV, "medium"

NET, "one who conjures up spirits"

8. NASB, NKJV, NIV, "one who inquires" [assumed] (i.e., a spiritist) - BDB 981, KB 1371, Qal participle (assumed)

NRSV, "consults spirits"

NJB, "mediums"

JPSOA, "familiar spirits"

NET, "a practitioner of the occult"

9. NASB, NKJV, "one who calls up the dead"

a.BDB 205, KB 233, Qal participle

b.BDB 559, KB 562, Qal participle

NRSV, "who seeks oracles from the dead"

NJB, NET, "necromancer"

JPSOA, "one who inquires of the dead"

NIV, "who consults the dead"

As you can see from the different English translations these words have some overlap. These terms seem to refer to different types of pagan worship practice, but their exact definitions are uncertain to modern Bible students. See a brief discussion in (1) Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, pp. 524-528 and 608-610 and also (2) Synonyms of the Old Testament by Robert B. Girdlestone, pp. 296-302. The general picture is an attempt to know and manipulate the future for personal benefit. YHWH's people are to trust Him and serve Him. The old original sin of "me first" is the root of all of mankind's problems!

18:10 "who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire" This is a reference to the worship of the fertility god, Molech. In Israel the firstborn (cf. Exodus 13) was to be given to YHWH to serve Him. In Canaan the firstborn was to be sacrificed by fire to Molech in order to insure fertility, (cf. Deut. 12:31; Lev. 18:21). There is even one account in 2 Kgs. 21:6 where God's people worshiped this false god! It also possibly relates somehow to knowing the future (cf. 2 Kgs. 3:26:27). See Special Topic: Molech.

▣ "divination" This is from the Hebrew root for "divine" (BDB 890, cf. Num. 22:7; 23:23; Ezek. 21:21; 2 Kgs. 17:17). It is the general term describing several different methods, but all intent on determining the will of a deity by mechanical or natural means, such as examining the livers of sheep or casting arrows. It is based on the pagan worldview that there is information about the future hidden in natural events and that gifted humans (i.e., false prophets, e.g., Jer. 27:9; 29:8; Ezek. 13:9; 22:28) know it and influence this future.

▣ "one who practices witchcraft" This term (BDB 778 II, KB 857) is related to the term "cloud" (BDB 777). Linguists think the term is related to sound:

1.the hum of insects

2.sound of wind in the trees

3.unknown etymology (if cloud, then related to sight)

The parallel passage in Moses' writings which prohibits these same pagan practices is in Lev. 19:26-20:8 (see esp. 19:26). This same term is also found in Jdgs. 9:37; 2 Kgs. 21:6; 2 Chr. 33:6; Isa. 2:6; 57:3; Jer. 27:9; Micah 5:12.

▣ "one who interprets omens" The meaning of this term (BDB 638 II, KB 690) is uncertain. In Syrian it means "to murmur an obscure incantation" (KB 690). The root has several usages:

1.serpent - BDB 638 I

2.verb in Piel only, (BDB 638 II) meaning :

a.practice divination

b.observe signs/omens

3.copper - bronze, BDB 638 III

4.unknown - BDB 638 IV


▣ "a sorcerer" This term (BDB 506, KB 503) basically means "to cut up" (1) as in the shredding of ingredients for a magical potion or (2) cutting oneself as a way of getting the deity's attention (i.e., Syrian usage, cf. 1 Kgs. 18:28). This term was used to describe Pharaoh's wise men in Exod. 7:11 and Nebuchadnezzar's wise men in Dan. 2:2.

18:11 "one who casts a spell" This literally is "to tie knots," "to be allied with," or "join together" (BDB 287, KB 287). In Psalm 58:5 and Eccl. 10:11 it refers to snake charming. A slightly different vocalization describes a Babylonian false wise man in Isa. 47:8-11.

▣ "mediums" The participle's (BDB 981, KB 1371) basic meaning is to "ask" or "inquire." Here, to inquire of the spirit realm (e.g., YHWH, Jos. 9:14 or idols, Hosea 4:12).

The first noun, "medium" (BDB 15) is a difficult term to define. Some see the term as it is used in Lev. 19:31; 20:6,27 as (1) a pit or grave where spirits are lured, (2) form of "father" which refers to ancestor worship. It is translated in the LXX in Isa. 8:19 as "ventriloquist." Because of this and Isa. 29:4 some think it means "to chirp" or "to mutter." This would imply to "talk with a different voice." However, from 1 Sam. 28:7-9, it is related to the ability to call or talk to someone in the ground or to communicate with the dead or spirits of the underworld, i.e., necromancy.

The second noun, "spiritists" (BDB 396) was a form of the Hebrew word "to know" (BDB 395). It refers to one who has knowledge of the spiritual realm or has contact with those in the spiritual realm who have knowledge (cf. Isa. 8:19; 19:3).

▣ "one who calls up the dead" This phrase is a combination of two Qal participles (BDB 205, KB 233, "to ask" and BDB 559, KB 562, "the dead ones"). In context it refers to mediums and "spiritists." These elite, supposedly gifted, people contact the dead for information about the future and the power to affect it.

All ancient cultures believed in an afterlife. For many in the Ancient Near East this had two possibilities:

1. ancestor worship where the spirits of family members could affect the present and future

2. the power of physical (stars, forces of nature) or spiritual (demons, demigods) could be utilized to know and affect personal destinies


Ps. 106:28 "And ate sacrifices offered to the dead" The MT does not have the verb "offered." "The dead" (BDB 559, Qal, #1,d) is a Qal active participle, which may refer to the non-existent pagan idols (cf. Num. 25:2), not deceased humans (cf. Deut. 26:14). The TEV, NJB, and REB so translate it.

TEV - "dead gods"

NJB - "lifeless gods"

REB - "lifeless gods"


106:29 "their deeds" One wonders if there is a purposeful comparison of

1. the deeds of the Israelite idolaters, Ps. 106:29,39

2. the deeds of YHWH, Ps. 106:2,7,13,21-22

What a contrast!

106:31 "it was reckoned to him for righteousness" This is the exact phrase used of Abraham's justification by faith in Gen. 15:6, quoted by Paul in Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6. The only difference in the verb here (BDB 362, KB 359, Niphal imperfect) and there (Qal imperfect) is the verbal aspect. See full notes on Gen. 15:6 online at

Phinehas the priest's actions are described in Num. 25:11-13. His actions, like Abraham's, demonstrated his faith in YHWH.

106:31 "to all generations forever" Phinehas' actions were an example of a true faithful follower. This testimony is preserved and continues to speak of his faith/faithfulness.

How we live influences people long after we die!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 106:32-33
 32They also provoked Him to wrath at the waters of Meribah,
 So that it went hard with Moses on their account;
 33Because they were rebellious against His Spirit,
 He spoke rashly with his lips.

106:32-33 This strophe reflects the events of Numbers 20. The Israelites angered Moses by their words at Meribah and he overreacted (cf. Num. 20:12; 27:14; Deut. 1:37; 3:26-27; 34:4). God is no respecter of persons; disobedience has consequences (cf. Gal. 6:7, see full note online).

106:33 "His Spirit" The NASB capitalizes "Spirit" (BDB 924), which implies YHWH's Spirit, but the context obviously refers to Moses' spirit (i.e., life force). In Ps. 106:33b the parallel line, "He" refers to Moses.

It may be a moot issue because it was God's Spirit who was with Moses (cf. Num. 11:17; Neh. 9:20), Israel (cf. Num. 24:3), and both (cf. Isa. 63:10-14).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 106:34-39
 34They did not destroy the peoples,
 As the Lord commanded them,
 35But they mingled with the nations
 And learned their practices,
 36And served their idols,
 Which became a snare to them.
 37They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons,
 38And shed innocent blood,
 The blood of their sons and their daughters,
 Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
 And the land was polluted with the blood.
 39Thus they became unclean in their practices,
 And played the harlot in their deeds.

106:34-39 This strophe reflects God's words to Israel about interaction with the Canaanites (cf. Exod. 34:10-17; Deut. 7:1-6,16; 20:16-18). The book of Joshua describes the defeat of the major walled cities of Canaan, but each tribe must finish the task of driving out the Canaanites from their own tribal allocations. They did not (i.e., Jdgs. 1:21,27, etc.). The consequences are clearly stated in Num. 33:50-56!

106:35 "the nations" See Special Topic: Pre-Israelite Inhabitants of Palestine.

106:36 "Which became a snare" This word, "snare" (BDB 430), is a reference to an animal trap (lit. "bait" or "lure"). It was used metaphorically of the temptation to Canaanite fertility worship (cf. Exod. 23:33; Deut. 7:16; Jdgs. 2:3).

106:37-38 This refers to the worship of the fertility god, Molech.


106:37 "demons" This (BDB 993) refers to pagan gods (cf. Deut. 32:17). The word is used only twice in the OT. It is possibly a loan word from Aramaic. The concept of pagan idols as demons is seen in the NT in 1 Cor. 10:19-20 and Rev. 9:20.


106:38 "the land was polluted" The land of Canaan was polluted by the Canaanites (cf. Gen. 15:16) and now by the Israelites (cf. Num. 35:33-34; Jer. 3:2-10). Canaan belonged to YHWH. It was His land.

106:39 "played the harlot" This (BDB 275, KB 275, Qal imperfect with waw) is a Hebrew idiom for idolatrous worship (cf. Jdgs. 2:17; Ezekiel 23; Hos. 5:3). It is based on the imagery of YHWH as Father and Israel as wife (cf. Hosea 1-3). To go after another god was viewed as "spiritual adultery" (cf. Exod. 34:15; Num. 15:39; Ps. 73:27; Hos. 4:12; 9:1). Sometimes the imagery is both figurative and literal because many/most of the fertility worship was by imitation magic (i.e., sexual activity in the name of and at the site of worship).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 106:40-43
 40Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against His people
 And He abhorred His inheritance.
 41Then He gave them into the hand of the nations,
 And those who hated them ruled over them.
 42Their enemies also oppressed them,
 And they were subdued under their power.
 43Many times He would deliver them;
 They, however, were rebellious in their counsel,
 And so sank down in their iniquity.

106:40-43 This is a summary of the periods of the exodus, wilderness wanderings, conquest, judges, and monarchy. The OT is a record of Israel's inability to obey (cf. Galatians 3)!

Notice the powerful emotive words used to describe how YHWH reacted to Israel's idolatry, rebellion, and unbelief.

1. the anger of the Lord was kindled against His people (cf. Deut. 1:34-35; 9:19)

2. He abhorred His inheritance (cf. Lev. 26:30; Deut. 32:19)

3. He gave them into the hand of. . . (i.e., Hebrew idiom of rejection), continued in different but parallel phrases in Ps. 106:41-42


106:42 "they were subdued" The AB (p. 75) mentions that the consonants of "Canaan" (BDB 488) are the same as this verb (BDB 488, KB 484, Niphal imperfect with waw). This may have been a purposeful sound play. Canaanite tribes subdued YHWH's faithless tribes.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 106:44-46
 44Nevertheless He looked upon their distress
 When He heard their cry;
 45And He remembered His covenant for their sake,
 And relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness.
 46He also made them objects of compassion
 In the presence of all their captors.

106:44-46 This strophe shows the gracious response of YHWH.

1. He looked upon their distress (cf. Exod. 2:25; 5:7; Neh. 9:9)

2. He heard their cry (cf. Exod. 2:23-25; 3:7-9; Num. 20:16; Jdgs. 3:9; 6:7; 10:10; Neh. 9:27)

3. He remembered His covenant (cf. Exod. 2:24; Lev. 26:40,42,45; Ps. 105:8,42)

4. He relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness (see full note at Gen. 6:6 online)

5. He made them objects of compassion (cf. 1 Kgs. 8:50; 2 Chr. 30:9; Ezra 9:9; Neh. 1:11; Jer. 42:12)

6. notice Ps. 106:43a, another gracious desire of YHWH


106:45 "covenant" See Special Topic: Covenant

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 106:47-48
 47Save us, O Lord our God,
 And gather us from among the nations,
 To give thanks to Your holy name
 And glory in Your praise.
 48Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
 From everlasting even to everlasting.
 And let all the people say, "Amen."
 Praise the Lord!

106:47-48 These words are also found in 1 Chr. 16:35-36. This Psalm starts with praise to YHWH for His grace to faithful followers. But Israel has not been faithful! Now the psalmist prays for YHWH to act on their behalf and restore Israel from exile!

1. save us - BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative, cf. 1 Chr. 16:35

2. gather us from the nations - BDB 867, KB 1062, Piel imperative, cf. Deut. 30:3; Ps. 147:2; Isa. 11:12; 56:8; Ezek. 39:28

The purpose of the restoration is so that Israel can

1. give thanks to Your holy name - BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil infinitive construct

2. glory in Your praise - BDB 986, KB 1387, Hithpael infinitive construct


106:48 "Blessed be the Lord" This verb (BDB 138, KB 159, Qal passive participle) also occurs in Ps. 41:13; 72:18; 89:52. Israel is to bless their God because of who He is and what He has done for them.

Notice the covenant titles of Deity.

1. O Lord our God, Ps. 106:47

2. the Lord, the God of Israel, Ps. 106:48


▣ "From everlasting even to everlasting" See Special Topic: Forever ('olam).

▣ "let all the people say, ‘Amen'" The NASB translates this phrase as a jussive but it is a Qal perfect.

▣ "Amen" See SPECIAL TOPIC: AMEN. Israel (i.e., "people") is to affirm YHWH's blessedness.

▣ "Praise the Lord" This Psalm ends the same as Psalm 105 and 104. This is liturgical phrasing that opens (i.e., Ps. 105:1) and closes (i.e., Ps. 105:45) many Psalms. It shows that they were read in worship settings.

"The Lord" is the shortened form of Yah (BDB 219).

Surprisingly this is missing in the LXX, but included in the Peshitta. It is surely possible that Ps. 106:48c-d serves as a doxological close to the fourth Book of the Psalter (i.e., Ps. 41:13; 89:52).

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