Our faith in God can be challenged when we collide with God’s governance of the world and our lives. When we assume the position of God and conclude that we would do things differently this affects our faith in God. If this has happened to you, you might be thinking or at least wondering what will happen next.
Psalm 106 is about a people who have collided with God on several issues and what God does next. When people struggle to have faith in God two issues often come in to play. One of them is the collision, this could be the death of a loved one and why did God let this happen… I can’t believe in a God who…., or it could be a change of direction in your own life, a change that you had no control of. People can find it difficult to have faith in God, when they look at all the sad things in the world, and people can find it difficult to have faith in God when that sadness comes knocking on their door.
Another reason why faith in God can be difficult comes down to – authority. But this isn’t so easily seen at first, so let me illustrate. There was once a boy sat at home with nothing to do, he decided that he would clean his room before his mum got home and told him to do it. As he was thinking this his mum came home and told him to clean his room. At this point something strange happened – all that self-motivated good will that was there for cleaning his room disappeared, he no longer wanted to do it – but why?
Why did this command by his mum wreck all that good will towards cleaning his room, if he had done it by himself he would not have been under any authority and if he did something without being told to do it, he thought he should have received a reward. But as soon as he was asked to do it, now it was under the authority of his mum, now it was an issue of obedience. The point here, is that many people want to live life as they want and not because God tells them to. They struggle to have faith in God because they have been told to have faith in God and they wanted to do it all by themselves, but they wanted to do it all by themselves so that they could say look at what I have achieved. God just messes everything up.
Psalm 106 describes a people who keep colliding with the authority of God and the call to be obedient. This collision continues until it’s never in their best interest to continue to collide. When people are treated in a particular way by another person this can change them, they may even say that they are not the sort of person they use to be. But God does not suffer from this kind of treatment – people do not treat God as God should be treated by them which happens year after year. But God doesn’t change – because he is God, He is always able to love you – V1 “oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good his steadfast love endures forever.” The reason for such praise, is because God doesn’t change toward us even though we may change toward him.
God may take us through different things and it may feel that we are being treated differently by God, but since His steadfast love is forever, His purposes behind those differences are the same – His steadfast loves endures forever. The child who feels that their hand is being squeezed too tight by their parent as they cross the road can rebel against authority and also against care, and that’s the point. God’s authority goes hand in hand with God’s care, when God’s people here in the psalm rebel against the authority they are also rebelling against the care, though this is not often seen in the moment.
We see in this psalm that God has a direction that he wants people to go in and sometimes He has to hold our hand tightly to get us there. But then there are times when He just lets us go around and around in circles. Faith is produced in us by hearing the word of God and being faithful in living by faith comes from continuing to hear the word of God that produces faith.
Faith is about listening to God and following Him, living under his authority and being obedient to his word. But there are those occasions where we have these wanton cravings v14. Instead of allowing God’s counsel to rule our desires – we can think of nothing but our own desires. Now things go wrong when people don’t listen to God and the mistake that people often mistake is the same that children make – where we think God is angry with this but actually it’s something else.
Let me illustrate – a parent tells their child not to touch the vase on the table, but as soon as the parent is out of the room the child touches the vase, it falls and it breaks – glass and water is everywhere and the first thing the parent does is to lift the child out of the mess they are in – at this point none of us mind being handled in this way to get out of the mess, but then we end up assuming the wrong thing. The child often assumes that the parent is angry and upset because they have broken the vase, and this might be true in part. But the real issue is that they didn’t listen to the parent to not touch the vase in the first place – and that is the bigger issue.
God doesn’t want us to learn the wrong lesson. The wrong lesson would be that the spilt milk, the broken vase is of greater importance than listening. If the parent does make more of the vase than of listening – then this is exactly what the child will learn, vases are more important to my mum than listening to her. God always makes it very clear, that the real issue is whether or not you have listened.
Like children we might plead forgetfulness, I forgot, but I forgot can be understood another way which is, I didn’t listen and remember what you said, and why does this happen? Remember the child who decided to clean his room and then in a moment no longer wanted to, it was because he did not want to be under authority and listen and obey what he was being told.
When the New Testament speaks about God’s judgement, the issue is very clear as to why people will face this judgement, they do not listen and obey the Gospel. We often make the mistake of starting at the wrong end of our personal downfall we are lost from God in sin. It is a mistake to concentrate on the wrong issue, the issue is not how can I put this back together again, rather the issue is – I should listen to God.
Psalm 106 -recounts a people who come to God and then walk away from God, who then come to God only to walk away again. God wants you to stay and so his love for us is from everlasting to everlasting. The issue is the same for the people who haven’t come to God in repentance and faith, as it is for the person who has come but who keeps walking away, only to be brought back again, they are not listening. God is forgiving and this is good, because we will always need HIs forgiveness, we confess our sin to God as a means of listening to Him, we repent, turning from our own way and by doing this, we are acknowledging God’s authority over all.