By Luke Johnson | December 10, 2014
Do you have a memory you love to think about? Something that makes you want to say, “GADZOOKS, that was awesome!!!”? What made it so memorable?
Can you remember a time when you ignored someone’s advice and really regretted it? What happened?
During the season of Advent, it’s important for us to take time to remember what God has done for us, to thank him for sticking with us, and to recommit ourselves to following him.
The Israelites in the Old Testament had a lot of experience with this. Out of everyone in the world, God chose this scrappy rag-tag group of nomads to be his people. God did a lot of amazing things for them. Off the top of your head, can you remember some of the ways God helped Israel?
Israel had a memory problem. Soon after God saved them in some way, they’d forget all about it and get into even worse trouble. Psalm 106 tells the roller-coaster story.
READ PSALM 106
As you read, listen for patterns: Does anything keep happening over and over again? Are there any words that are repeated a lot?
What did you notice? Did anything pop out to you as you read?
What is Israel’s big problem?
Is there anything from Israel’s story that is encouraging to you?
Think about what the psalm says about the Exodus (when God brought Israel out of Egypt).
What kinds of things did God do for Israel to save them from Pharaoh?
How did Israel respond?
With eternal thankfulness? By wearing “I’m with Yahweh” t-shirts? (Look at verse 13.)
What about you?
Put yourself in Israel’s shoes: You just watched a bunch of plagues hit your enemies, and a huge body of water split in two to let you walk across. A fiery cloud guided you to safety. You saw God himself stand on top of a mountain and heard his thundery voice speak to you. How do you think you’d react? (“Amazing! I believe!” or “Nice try, God. I’m not buying it.”)
Why do you think the Israelites had such a hard time staying faithful to the God who kept saving them over and over again?
What is the psalmist trying to accomplish by bringing up all this stuff from Israel’s past? (How does this play-by-play help people to pray?)
How does God react when Israel keeps failing to take him seriously? (Does he get mad? Does he turn his back? How does he get their attention?)
What kinds of things does the psalmist say about God’s love and God’s ‘mighty acts’?
READ LUKE 23:32-47
Can you hear Psalm 106 underneath this reading from Luke?
Read Psalm 106:4-5 again. Do you notice any similarities to the criminal’s words to Jesus?
What do you think is going on here? Why might Luke be echoing Psalm 106 in this conversation between Jesus and the criminal on their crosses?
How can we pray this psalm during Advent?
Just like Israel, we screw up really easily. Along with the psalmist we can remember all the junk in our own lives that draws us away from God. But we can praise God along with the psalmist, too, because of God’s mercy and his power to save us -- because God always calls us back, and he is always near. God was even near the criminal dying on the cross. The criminal cried out to God for mercy, and Jesus gave it to him.
No matter how far we wander away, no matter how many times, Jesus coming into the world proves that our ability to screw up is no match for God’s ability to save us.