There are always two sides to a story. Anyone who has ever tried to mediate a disagreement between two children, especially if they are siblings, knows that there are two sides to every story. Typically, as the two sides compete, there is a sliver of truth that emerges in the middle that becomes the real narrative.
Many times in life there are two sides of the story. Blessings can also bring tragedies. Pain, after time and healing, can shape and lead individuals into great moments and futures. That doesn’t mean that the blessing is in reality pain, or that the pain one is experiencing should be disregarded because it will lead to blessing. It’s just a reminder that there are always two sides of the story.
Psalms 105 and 106 are two sides of the same story. They are Psalms that are often quoted together because they begin and end with words of thanksgiving.
Psalm 105 “give thanks to the Lord, call on the Lord’s name, make known among the nations what the Lord has done.”
Psalm 106 “Praise the Lord, oh give thanks to the Lord for the Lord is good, and the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.”
They are reminders of where our focus should remain. They are reminders of all that God has done for us. They are encouragements to lead lives of thanksgiving. Yet the remainder of the Psalms seem so different.
Psalm 105 is a reminder of God’s goodness in being faithful to the promises, and bringing Israel safely into the land. It’s focus is on what God has done. God is holy, and has remembered the covenant to Abraham. When the nation was small in number God kept them safe. When there was a famine in the land, God sent Joseph ahead to prepare a safe place to live in Egypt. When Israel was in slavery, God sent Moses and Aaron to lead them to freedom through the plagues and the crossing of the Sea. When the Egyptians pursued them, God protected them with the cloud and saved them, eventually placing them in the promised land. The Lord is Good!
While Psalm 105 is a reminder of God’s faithfulness to the promise, Psalm 106 is a reminder that Israel has failed. Psalm 105 tells of all the good things God has done, while Psalm 106 declares Israel’s sinfulness, sharing reminders of their, and our, mistakes. Both we and our fathers have sinned and acted wickedly. We rebelled against God’s love. We saw God’s good works, and yet ignored them to follow our own passions. We searched after, and created our own gods. We participated in the rebellion of Dathan and Abiram. We made a calf in the wilderness, and bowed down. We complained about the food and the water. We worshiped the Baal of Peor. We mixed with the nations, doing the very thing God asked us not to do. The anger of the Lord was kindled against us, and we deserved it. Nevertheless, God looked upon us, heard our cry, and saved us.
Psalms 105 and 106 are two sides of the same story. Give thanks to God because God has been faithful. Give thanks to God because even when we were unfaithful, God was still faithful.
Honestly, I would rather read Psalm 105 than 106. Psalm 105 is exciting as I can declare with others, look at all the great things God has done. God has been faithful in the past. God will be faithful in the future.
Psalm 106 is discouraging because it reminds me of my own mistakes. I have sinned right along with my fathers. I may not have built a calf to worship, but I’ve held up my own idols, and worshiped them believing they could bring me life. I may not have grumbled because I didn’t have meat to eat, but I’ve grumbled about how others sometimes have more than I do, forgetting that all that I have comes from God. I may not have worshiped the Baal of Peor, prostituting myself to a foreign God, but I have been unfaithful time and time again, and I probably deserve death.
I don’t like reading Psalm 106 because it reminds me of my mistakes. Psalm 105 is a fun story, an exciting book to read. Psalm 106 is depressing, being reminded of sin after sin. Yet even in my mistakes, when I deserve punishment, I’m reminded that God does not leave me. Instead, God’s steadfast love is always faithful.
Thus, no matter where I am today, I can praise the Lord at all times. I praise the Lord, because the Lord has been faithful to the promises and conquered the enemies. But even more so, because the Lord has taken me, one who deserves nothing but death, and has given me life.
Therefore…Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say “Amen! Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 106:48)