NOTE: The opening of “Leanness into our souls” has been tweaked.
I believe God has something to say to all of us in Psalm 106. As you read portions of it below note the cyclical nature of the relationship between God and His people. (I have more comments following the psalm.)
The Great Shepherd leads, protects, and delivers his sheep from harm. They trust and follow Him. He takes good care of them. Gradually they forget and become ungrateful for what He has done and defy Him. When they do not respond to His appeals to return to Him, He disciplines them by removing His hand of blessing and protection, letting them suffer at the hands of their enemies, such as the fierce Assyrians and Babylonians. They repent and cry out to Him. He forgives, restores and blesses them again. They forget and provoke Him. . .
“. . . We have sinned with our fathers,
We have committed iniquity,
We have done wickedly.
7 Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders;
They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies,
But rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea.
8 Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake,
That He might make His mighty power known.
9 He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it dried up;
So He led them through the depths,
As through the wilderness.
10 He saved them from the hand of him who hated them,
And redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.
11 The waters covered their enemies;
There was not one of them left.
12 Then they believed His words;
They sang His praise.
13 They soon forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness,
And tested God in the desert.
15 And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul. . .
21 They forgot God their Savior,
Who had done great things in Egypt,
22 Wondrous works in the land of Ham,
Awesome things by the Red Sea.
23 Therefore He said that He would destroy them,
Had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach,
To turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them.
24 Then they despised the pleasant land;
They did not believe His word,
25 But complained in their tents,
And did not heed the voice of the Lord.
26 Therefore He raised His hand in an oath against them,
To overthrow them in the wilderness,
27 To overthrow their descendants among the nations,
And to scatter them in the lands. . .
37 They even sacrificed their sons
And their daughters to demons,
38 And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
And the land was polluted with blood.
39 Thus they were defiled by their own works,
And played the harlot by their own deeds.
40 Therefore the wrath of the Lord was kindled against His people,
So that He abhorred His own inheritance.
41 And He gave them into the hand of the Gentiles,
And those who hated them ruled over them.
42 Their enemies also oppressed them,
And they were brought into subjection under their hand.
43 Many times He delivered them;
But they rebelled in their counsel,
And were brought low for their iniquity.”
(New King James Version, emphasis added)
If you wonder why I am taking a psalm addressed to Israel and applying it to the United States, read The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn. Our forefathers made the very same vows to God that Israel did, committing our land to His protection and thanking Him for His blessings of peace and prosperity. He honored those vows and blessed our nation more than any other nation in history.
From 1776 until the 1960s God was faithful to us as He was to Israel. As we kept Him first in our lives and our nation, He kept us close to His side. As we acknowledged when we failed to keep Him our highest priority, He drew us back to Himself with cords of love, with fatherly discipline, and through men and women of God. He prefers to lead us by His kindness. Romans 2:4 asks, “[D]o you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”
Answer: Yes, we do–we have presumed on the riches of God’s kindness, forbearance and patience. We have not only taken them for granted but have become idolators, taking credit for these things ourselves. This is the ultimate denial of truth. It is the height of arrogance, self-deception and is spitting in the face of our Good Shepherd.
Thinking we could live without Him, we kicked God out of our schools, our government, and our public square. God, in His love, sent us warning after warning that rejecting His covering would lead to judgment. One of those warnings was AIDS, “receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error” Romans 1:18ff. We wouldn’t listen. We taught tolerance of the sin and have now legalized it.
He withdrew His hand and allowed the first enemy attack on mainland American soil in U.S. history: 9/11. Although some people came to Him through this, most responded with anger: “WHERE WAS GOD?” Where indeed? Right where we’d told Him to go: outside, away, far from us. He does not force Himself or His mercy on those who refuse it. As when the Jews rejected His son as their Messiah, He yearns over us with words like Jesus’ words to Jerusalem, America, America, you who spurn My words and reject My Lordship and My love, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
Instead of humbling ourselves and coming back to Him, we said again, as Israel did (in effect) when in rebellion, “We don’t need You! We can take care of ourselves!” The Bible says “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” (I Samuel 15:23)
In fact our current leaders used (more than once) the very same words Israel had used to reject God (Isaiah 9:10). Not, “We should never have strayed from You! We need You, Lord. Forgive us!” Instead, a defiant “WE WILL REBUILD!” In the context of Isaiah chapter 9, an invitation to judgment.
Katrina. Drought. Sandy. Of course some people came back to God through these disasters and there were many people who responded with mercy to those who suffered, as we should. But the country as a whole did not turn to God. Each warning He sent to draw us to repentance and back under His protection, we ignored and each warning got more severe. The warnings themselves have become the judgments.
Now we have re-issued our invitation to a man whom I believe fits the description of the verse, “And those who hated them ruled over them.” I think Obama has nothing but contempt for us and is committed to destroying our country from within the Oval Office, as terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers using our own airplanes.
God will use this man to continue bringing our country to its knees. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. When we find ourselves on our knees, we’re in an ideal position to pray. Because our hope for change–in the right direction–cannot be in any human being or human institution. Our only hope is God.