Psalm 106: Parallel Histories of God’s Steadfast Love

star trek resizedAs a Star Trek fan from back when there was only the one version, I’m familiar with the concept of parallel universes. In these parallel universes, the people are similar but living different lives, having made different choices. The classic concept is one of good versus evil; the command of the Starship Enterprise in this parallel universe is corrupt, slitting throats in order to gain positions of power. Spock, however, is still logical and unemotional in this world, making decisions based on his personal gains rather than the greater good.

I thought of this concept after reading Psalm 106. Last week we looked at Psalm 105, a sanitized version of Hebrew history. In Psalm 106, the focus is on the darker side of that history, the sinfulness of the people.

We receive a recounting of that history, including:

  • Complaints when facing the Red Sea, “They did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea.” (7b)
  • Grumbling in the desert, “But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert.” (14)
  • Jealousy, “When men in the camp were jealous of Moses and Aaron, the holy one of the Lord, the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram.” (16-17)
  • Worshiping idols, “They made a calf in Horeb and worshiped a molten image.” (19) “Then they attached themselves to the Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices offered to the dead.” (28)
  • Lack of trust that God would provide, “They angered him at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account.” (32)
  • Disobedience of God’s commands, “They did not destroy the peoples, as the Lord commanded them, but they mingled with the nations and learned to do as they did. They served their idols, which became a snare to them.” (34-36)

How can two histories exist side by side and both be equally true? It depends on your focus. Neither alone gives a complete picture of the complexities of the history of this land. In the same way, depending on who writes history, we get a different picture. The history of Israel, recounted by Israelis, differs from the history of the same country recounted by Palestinians. History has been written by men for years, focusing on male exploits and relegating women to the background. The same can be said for African-Americans in U.S. history, leaving out a large portion of the country.

No one history can capture the entirety of a world. There are as many ways to view the past as there are people. History is more than a chronological listing of events. It is a combination of all the lives that surround those events.

But one thing remains constant, God’s steadfast love. During the good times, as well as during times of sin, our God’s steadfast love remains. “He remembered for their sake his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.” (45)

What has been your experience of “History”?

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