In this Psalm the Psalmist acknowledges that it is right to give thanks and praise unto the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever, vs 1.
He says that there is none who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord or praise Him adequately for all that He has done, vs 2. However, those who do justice and are righteous at all times will be truly blessed, vs 3; for God will visit them with His favour and salvation. Besides, they will see the good of God’s chosen people, and so rejoice in the gladness of their nation, and glory with God’s inheritance, just like the Psalmist asks God to do for him, vs 4,5.
The Psalmist then recalls how God’s people followed in the sinful ways of their fathers committing iniquity and acting wickedly, vs 6, and because they were unable to understand the marvelous acts of God in Egypt, they doubted God’s ability to deliver them at the Red Sea, vs 7! Nevertheless, He saved them for His Name’s sake and delivered them for the hand of their enemy, not one of whom was left, vs 8-11!
On seeing this, they sang His praise, vs 12, but, later on soon forgot His works and did not wait for His counsel or walk in repentance, concerning their former behaviour, vs 13; but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert, and so, He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul, vs 14,15.
Some of them envied Moses and Aaron and rebelled against them, vs 16; as a result of which the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram vs 17; and a flame burnt them up vs 18! Next, they got into gross idolatry and immorality, and had not Moses stood before Him in the breach, He would have completely destroyed them vs 19-23! Further, when God asked them to enter into the promised land, vs 24, they murmured in their tents, vs 25.
So, God judged them and some of them died while the others roamed around in the wilderness, through forty long years, vs 26, 27.
Yet, they joined themselves unto Baalpeor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead, vs 28. This angered God and a plague broke out in their midst, vs 29, which was stayed only because Phinehas executed judgment against the sinners vs 30! This was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore, 31.
Further, at the waters of strife, it went badly with Moses for their sakes, because when they provoked his spirit, he disobeyed God’s Word, vs 32,33, and was not allowed to enter the land of Canaan as a result! Subsequently, they kept walking in the idolatrous ways of the heathen nations around them, even to the extent of sacrificing the blood of their sons and daughters unto the idols of Canaan, vs 34-39. This left God with no choice, but to give them over, into the hands of their enemies, who hated them, oppressed them and ruled over them, vs 40-42.
Many times God did deliver them when they cried out to Him because of their affliction and because He remembered His covenant with their forefathers, and even made their captors to pity them, vs 43-46. The Psalmist realises how patient and long-suffering the Lord has been towards them, and pleads with Him to save them from among the heathen, so that they can once again, thank and praise His Holy Name, vs 47! Finally, the Psalmist end the Psalm, by blessing the Name of the Lord and telling us to do so too, vs 48.
Thus we see from this Psalm, that continued idolatry, rebellion and disobedience towards God, is bound to invite God’s judgment upon us, while those like Phinehas, Joshua and Caleb will suffer for a while, as they stand against the crowd, but will ultimately win the favour, salvation and share in the inheritance of God’s people in the days ahead!