Psalm 106:6
We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.
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(6) We.—Regard must be paid to the fact that the confession includes the speaker and his generation, as well as the ancestors of the race. The psalm proceeds from the period of the Captivity, when the national conscience, or at all events that of the nobler part of the nation, was thoroughly alive to the sinfulness of idolatry.

Psalm 106:6-7. We have sinned with our fathers — That is, as our fathers did, and have not been made wiser or better by their examples, as we ought to have been. Our fathers understood not — Or, considered not; thy wonders in Egypt — Namely, so as to be rightly affected with them, and to receive from them the instruction they were intended to convey. They saw them, but they did not rightly apprehend the design of them; they thought, indeed, that the plagues of Egypt were intended for their deliverance; but they did not consider that they were intended also for their conviction and reformation; not only to rescue them out of their Egyptian slavery, but to cure them of their inclination to Egyptian idolatry, by evidencing the sovereign power and dominion of the God of Israel above all gods, and his particular concern for them. They remembered not the multitude of thy mercies — As their understandings were dull, so their memories were treacherous; though one would have thought such astonishing events should never have been forgotten or disregarded, yet they remembered them not so as to make a right use of them, and yield unto God that love, and praise, and obedience, and to put that trust in him, which such wonders deserved and required. But provoked him even at the Red sea — When those wonders of his power and goodness, performed in Egypt, had been newly done, and ought to have been fresh in their minds. The provocation here referred to, was their despair of deliverance, because the danger was great, and wishing they had been left in Egypt still, Exodus 14:11-12. Observe well, reader, quarrelling with God’s providence, and calling in question his power, goodness, and faithfulness, are as great provocations to him as almost any whatsoever.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.We have sinned with our fathers - We have sinned as "they" did; we have followed their example. The illustration of the manner in which the nation had sinned occupies a considerable part of the remainder of the psalm; and the idea here is, that, in the generation in which the psalmist lived, there had been the manifestation of the same rebellious spirit which had so remarkably characterized the entire nation. The "connection" of this with the foregoing verses is not very apparent. It would seem to be that the psalmist was deeply impressed with a sense of the great blessings which follow from the friendship of God, and from keeping his commandments - as stated, Psalm 106:3-5; but he remembered that those blessings had not come upon the people as might have been expected, and his mind suddenly adverts to the cause of this, in the fact that the nation had "sinned." It was not that God was not disposed to bestow that happiness; it was not that true religion "failed" to confer happiness; but it was that the nation had provoked God to displeasure, and that in fact the sins of the people had averted the blessings which would otherwise have come upon them. The psalmist, therefore, in emphatic language - repeating the confession in three forms, "we have sinned - we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly," acknowledges that the failure was in them, not in God. The language here is substantially the same as in Daniel 9:5-6, and it would seem not improbable that the one was suggested by the other. Which was prior in the order of time, it is now impossible to determine. Compare the notes at Daniel 9:5-6. 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.

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.

Psalm 106:6

"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.

Psalm 106:7

"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.

Psalm 106:8

"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.

Psalm 106:9

"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.


With our fathers; as our fathers did, and have not been made wiser or better by their examples, as we should have been. 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.

We have {d} sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.

(d) By earnest confession of their sins and of their father's, they show that they hoped that God according to his promise would pity them.

6. The main purpose of the Psalm is here stated;—the confession of the constant sin of Israel throughout its history. The acknowledgement that the nation does not deserve the mercy for which it prays is the primary condition of forgiveness and restoration to God’s favour. The language is borrowed from Solomon’s prayer (1 Kings 8:47); and the accumulation of synonyms expresses the manifold character of Israel’s guilt. Cp. Daniel’s confession (Daniel 9:5), and the confession of the Jews in Babylon in Bar 2:12.

We have sinned with our fathers] “This remarkable expression is not to be weakened to mean merely that the present generation had sinned like their ancestors, but gives expression to the profound sense of national solidarity, which speaks in many other places of Scripture, and rests on very deep facts in the life of nations and their individual members” (Maclaren). Cp. Leviticus 26:39-40; Jeremiah 3:25; Jeremiah 14:20.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. Now follows the miraculous guidance through the desert to the taking possession of Canaan. The fact that the cloud (ענן, root ען, to meet, to present itself to view, whence the Arabic ‛ănăn, the visible outward side of the vault of heaven) by day, and becoming like fire by night, was their guide (Exodus 13:21), is left out of consideration in Psalm 105:39. With למסך we are not to associate the idea of a covering against foes, Exodus 14:19., but of a covering from the smiting sun, for פּרשׁ (Exodus 40:19), as in Isaiah 4:5., points to the idea of a canopy. In connection with the sending of the quails the tempting character of the desire is only momentarily dwelt upon, the greater emphasis is laid on the omnipotence of the divine goodness which responded to it. שׁאלוּ is to be read instead of שׁאל, the w before w having been overlooked; and the Kerמ writes and points שׂליו (like סתיו, עניו) in order to secure the correct pronunciation, after the analogy of the plural termination יו-. The bread of heaven (Psalm 78:24.) is the manna. In Psalm 105:41 the giving of water out of the rock at Rephidim and at Kadesh are brought together; the expression corresponds better to the former instance (Exodus 17:6, cf. Numbers 20:11). הלכוּ refers to the waters, and נהר for כּנּהרות, Psalm 78:16, is, as in Psalm 22:14, an equation instead of a comparison. In this miraculous escort the patriarchal promise moves on towards its fulfilment; the holy word of promise, and the stedfast, proved faith of Abraham - these were the two motives. The second את is, like the first, a sign of the object, not a preposition (lxx, Targum), in connection with which Psalm 105:42 would be a continuation of Psalm 105:42, dragging on without any parallelism. Joy and exulting are mentioned as the mood of the redeemed ones with reference to the festive joy displayed at the Red Sea and at Sinai. By Psalm 105:43 one is reminded of the same descriptions of the antitype in Isaiah, Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 51:11; Isaiah 55:12, just as Psalm 105:41 recalls Isaiah 48:21. "The lands of the heathen" are the territories of the tribes of Canaan. עמל is equivalent to יגיע in Isaiah 45:14 : the cultivated ground, the habitable cities, and the accumulated treasures. Israel entered upon the inheritance of these peoples in every direction. As an independent people upon ground that is theirs by inheritance, keeping the revealed law of their God, was Israel to exhibit the pattern of a holy nation moulded after the divine will; and, as the beginning of the Psalm shows, to unite the peoples to themselves and their God, the God of redemption, by the proclamation of the redemption which has fallen to their own lot.
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