|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
106:6-12 Here begins a confession of sin; for we must acknowledge that the Lord has done right, and we have done wickedly. We are encouraged to hope that though justly corrected, yet we shall not be utterly forsaken. God's afflicted people own themselves guilty before him. God is distrusted because his favours are not remembered. If he did not save us for his own name's sake, and to the praise of his power and grace, we should all perish.
Verses 6-46. - The psalmist now enters on his main subject - the transgressions of Israel in the past, and God's manifold mercies vouchsafed to them. These he traces from the time of the Exodus (ver. 7) to that of the Babylonish captivity (ver. 46). Verse 6. - We have sinned with our fathers (comp. Leviticus 26:40; 1 Kings 8:47; Ezra 9:6, 7; Nehemiah 1:6, 7; Nehemiah 9:16-18, 26; Daniel 9:5-8). We have committed iniquity; or, "dealt perversely" (Kay). We have done wickedly. The confession is as broad and general as possible, including all under sin - the "fathers" from Moses downwards, the whole nation from the time of its settlement in Canaan, and even the afflicted exiles in Babylon. Their guilt is emphaized by the use of three verbs, each more forcible than the last.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
We have sinned with our fathers,.... Sinned in their first father Adam; derived a corrupt nature from their immediate ancestors; sinned after the similitude of their transgressions; sinned after their example, in like manner as they did; guilty of the same gross enormities as they were: though sufficiently warned by the words of the prophets, and by punishments inflicted, they continued their sins, a constant series and course of them, and filled up the measure of their iniquities; they rose up in their stead an increase of sinful men, to augment the fierce anger of God, Numbers 32:14. And this the psalmist, in the name of the people of Israel, confesses, as it was his and their duty and interest so to do, Leviticus 26:40, and as we find it was usual with Old Testament saints, Jeremiah 3:25.
We have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly; this heap of words is used to denote not only the multitude of their sins, but the aggravated circumstances of them; that they had committed all manner of sins, not sins of ignorance, frailty, and infirmity only; but presumptuous sins, sins against light and knowledge, grace and mercy; sins against both tables of the law, against God and their neighbour; and these attended with many aggravations: all which a sensible sinner is ready to make a frank and ingenuous confession of, and forsake; and such an one finds mercy with a God pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin: this form of confession is followed by Solomon and Daniel, 1 Kings 8:47.
The Treasury of David
6 We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.
7 Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea.
8 Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.
9 He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.
10 And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.
11 And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left. 12 Then believed they his words; they sang his praise.
"We have sinned with our fathers." Here begins a long and particular confession. Confession of sin is the readiest way to secure an answer to the prayer of Psalm 106:4; God visits with his salvation the soul which acknowledges its need of a Saviour. Men may be said to have sinned with their fathers when they imitate them, when they follow the same objects, and make their own lives to be mere continuations of the follies of their sires. Moreover, Israel was but one nation in all time, and the confession which follows sets forth the national rather than the personal sin of the Lord's people. They enjoyed national privileges, and therefore they shared in national guilt. "We have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly." Thus is the confession repeated three times, in token of the sincerity and heartiness of it. Sins of omission, commission, and rebellion we ought to acknowledge under distinct heads, that we may show a due sense of the number and heinousness of our offences.
"Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt." The Israelites saw the miraculous plagues and ignorantly wondered at them: their design of love, their deep moral and spiritual lessons, and their revelation of the divine power and justice they were unable to perceive. A long sojourn among idolaters had blunted the perceptions of the chosen family, and cruel slavery had ground them down into mental sluggishness. Alas, how many of God's wonders are not understood, or misunderstood by us still. We fear the sons are no great improvement upon the sires. We inherit from our fathers much sin and little wisdom; they could only leave us what they themselves possessed. We see from this verse that a want of understanding is no excuse for sin, but is itself one count in the indictment against Israel. "They remembered not the multitude of thy mercies." The sin of the understanding leads on to the sin of the memory. What is not understood will soon be forgotten. Men feel little interest in preserving husks; if they know nothing of the inner kernel they will take no care of the shells. It was an aggravation of Israel's sin that when God's mercies were so numerous they yet were able to forget them all. Surely some out of such a multitude of benefits ought to have remained engraven upon their hearts; but if grace does not give us understanding, nature will soon cast out the memory of God's great goodness. "But provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea." To fall out at starting was a bad sign. Those who did not begin well can hardly be expected to end well. Israel is not quite out of Egypt, and yet she begins to provoke the Lord by doubting his power to deliver, and questioning his faithfulness to his promise. The sea was only called Red, but their sins were scarlet in reality; it was known as the "sea of weeds," but far worse weeds grew in their hearts.
"Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known." When he could find no other reason for his mercy he found it in his own glory, and seized the opportunity to display his power. If Israel does not deserve to be saved, yet Pharaoh's pride needs to be crushed, and therefore Israel shall be delivered. The Lord very jealously guards his own name and honour. It shall never be said of him that he cannot or will not save his people, or that he cannot abate the haughtiness of his defiant foes. This respect unto his own honour ever leads him to deeds of mercy, and hence we may well rejoice that he is a jealous God.
"He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up." A word did it. The sea heard his voice and obeyed. How many rebukes of God are lost upon us! Are we not more unmanageable than the ocean? God did, as it were, chide the sea, and say, "Wherefore dost thou stop the way of my people? Their path to Canaan lies through thy channel, how darest thou hinder them?" The sea perceived its Master and his seed royal, and made way at once. "So he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness." As if it had been the dry floor of the desert the tribes passed over the bottom of the gulf; nor was their passage venturesome, for He bade them go; nor dangerous, for He led them. We also have under divine protection passed through many trials and afflictions, and with the Lord as our guide we have experienced no fear and endured no perils. We have been led through the deeps as through the wilderness.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. Compare 1Ki 8:47; Da 9:5, where the same three verbs occur in the same order and connection, the original of the two later passages being the first one, the prayer of Solomon in dedicating the temple.
sinned … fathers—like them, and so partaking of their guilt. The terms denote a rising gradation of sinning (compare Ps 1:1).
with our fathers—we and they together forming one mass of corruption.
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