A penitential prayer recalling Israel's long history of rebellion and God's covenant faithfulness.
st. 1 = vv. 1-5
st. 2 = vv. 6-12
st. 3 = vv. 13-18
st. 4 = vv. 19-23
st. 5 = vv. 24-31
st. 6 = vv. 32-46
st. 7 = vv. 47-48
Psalm 106 is a kind of twin to Psalm 105; it recalls Israel's history but focuses more on the people's rebellious acts while noting God's faithfulness despite their disobedience.
The psalmist opens with a call to praise the LORD for his goodness and mighty acts and asks for God's covenant mercy upon himself and the people of Israel (st. 1). He goes on to tell of Israel's disobedience against the LORD: already in Egypt they forgot God's miracles (v. 7; st. 2). In the desert they complained against God, and some of the people rose up against Moses (st. 3). At Mount Horeb (Sinai) they made an idol, and if not for Moses' intercession for them, God would have destroyed them (st. 4). Israel rejected God's promise of a "pleasant land," so God determined to scatter them; they worshiped the fertility god Baal, so God sent a plague to destroy them–but relented when Phinehas intervened for the sake of God's glory (st. 5). Israel again angered the LORD at Meribah, and they worshiped idols in the promised land. God gave them up to their enemies, but once again he relented when they cried out for mercy (st. 6). God's faithfulness gives the psalmist hope: in closing he cries, "Save us, a LORD our God, and gather us from the nations" (v. 47; see also vv. 4-5) so that the people may ever have cause to praise and thank the LORD (st. 7; notice the echo of v. 1).
Other psalms recounting Israel's history are 78,105,135, and 136. Marie J. Post (PHH 5) versified Psalm 106 in 1985 for the Psalter Hymnal.
Worship that focuses on Israel's history; stanzas 1 and 7 can form a doxology.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988