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Psalm 106[a]

Israel’s Confession of Sin



Give thanks to the Lord, who is good,
    whose mercy endures forever.(A)
Who can recount the mighty deeds of the Lord,
    proclaim in full God’s praise?
Blessed those who do what is right,
    whose deeds are always just.(B)
Remember me, Lord, as you favor your people;
    come to me with your saving help,(C)
That I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones,
    rejoice in the joy of your people,
    and glory with your heritage.


We have sinned like our ancestors;(D)
    we have done wrong and are guilty.


Our ancestors in Egypt
    did not attend to your wonders.
They did not remember your manifold mercy;
    they defied the Most High at the Red Sea.
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake
    to make his power known.(E)
He roared at the Red Sea and it dried up.
    He led them through the deep as through a desert.(F)
10 He rescued them from hostile hands,
    freed them from the power of the enemy.
11 The waters covered their oppressors;
    not one of them survived.
12 Then they believed his words
    and sang his praise.(G)


13 But they soon forgot all he had done;
    they had no patience for his plan.
14 In the desert they gave in to their cravings,
    tempted God in the wasteland.(H)
15 So he gave them what they asked
    and sent a wasting disease against them.(I)


16 In the camp they challenged Moses(J)
    and Aaron, the holy one of the Lord.
17 The earth opened and swallowed Dathan,
    it closed on the followers of Abiram.
18 Against their company the fire blazed;
    flames consumed the wicked.


19 At Horeb they fashioned a calf,(K)
    worshiped a metal statue.
20 They exchanged their glory[b]
    for the image of a grass-eating bull.
21 They forgot the God who had saved them,
    who had done great deeds in Egypt,(L)
22 Amazing deeds in the land of Ham,
    fearsome deeds at the Red Sea.
23 He would have decreed their destruction,
    had not Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach[c]
    to turn back his destroying anger.(M)


24 Next they despised the beautiful land;(N)
    they did not believe the promise.
25 In their tents they complained;
    they did not heed the voice of the Lord.
26 So with raised hand he swore
    he would destroy them in the desert,
27 And scatter their descendants among the nations,
    disperse them in foreign lands.


28 They joined in the rites of Baal of Peor,(O)
    ate food sacrificed to the dead.
29 They provoked him by their actions,
    and a plague broke out among them.
30 Then Phinehas rose to intervene,
    and the plague was brought to a halt.
31 This was counted for him as a righteous deed
    for all generations to come.


32 At the waters of Meribah they angered God,(P)
    and Moses suffered because of them.[d]
33 They so embittered his spirit
    that rash words crossed his lips.


34 They did not destroy the peoples
    as the Lord had commanded them,(Q)
35 But mingled with the nations
    and imitated their ways.(R)
36 They served their idols
    and were ensnared by them.(S)
37 They sacrificed to demons[e]
    their own sons and daughters,
38 Shedding innocent blood,
    the blood of their own sons and daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
    desecrating the land with bloodshed.
39 They defiled themselves by their actions,
    became adulterers by their conduct.
40 So the Lord grew angry with his people,
    abhorred his own heritage.
41 He handed them over to the nations,
    and their adversaries ruled over them.(T)
42 Their enemies oppressed them,
    kept them under subjection.
43 Many times did he rescue them,
    but they kept rebelling and scheming
    and were brought low by their own guilt.(U)
44 Still God had regard for their affliction
    when he heard their wailing.
45 For their sake he remembered his covenant
    and relented in his abundant mercy,(V)
46 Winning for them compassion
    from all who held them captive.


47 Save us, Lord, our God;
    gather us from among the nations
That we may give thanks to your holy name
    and glory in praising you.(W)
48 [f]Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!
    Let all the people say, Amen!(X)


  1. Psalm 106 Israel is invited to praise the God whose mercy has always tempered judgment of Israel (Ps 106:1–3). The speaker, on behalf of all, seeks solidarity with the people, who can always count on God’s fidelity despite their sin (Ps 106:4–5). Confident of God’s mercy, the speaker invites national repentance (Ps 106:6) by reciting from Israel’s history eight instances of sin, judgment, and forgiveness. The sins are the rebellion at the Red Sea (Ps 106:6–12; see Ex 14–15), the craving for meat in the desert (Ps 106:13–15; see Nm 11), the challenge to Moses’ authority (Ps 106:16–18; see Nm 16), the golden calf episode (Ps 106:19–23; see Ex 32–34), the refusal to take Canaan by the southern route (Ps 106:24–27; see Nm 13–14 and Dt 1–2), the rebellion at Baal-Peor (Ps 106:28–31; see Nm 25:1–10), the anger of Moses (Ps 106:32–33; see Nm 20:1–13), and mingling with the nations (Ps 106:34–47). The last, as suggested by its length and generalized language, may be the sin that invites the repentance of the present generation. The text gives the site of each sin: Egypt (Ps 106:7), the desert (Ps 106:14), the camp (Ps 106:16), Horeb (Ps 106:19), in their tents (Ps 106:25), Baal-Peor (Ps 106:28), the waters of Meribah (Ps 106:32), Canaan (Ps 106:38).
  2. 106:20 Their glory: meant as a reference to God.
  3. 106:23 Withstood him in the breach: the image is that of Moses standing in a narrow break made in the wall to keep anyone from entering.
  4. 106:32 Moses suffered because of them: Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land because of his rash words (Nm 20:12). According to Dt 1:37, Moses was not allowed to cross because of the people’s sin, not his own.
  5. 106:37 Demons: Hebrew shedim occurs in parallelism with “gods” in an important inscription from Transjordan and hence can also be translated “the gods.”
  6. 106:48 A doxology ending Book IV of the Psalter. It is not part of the Psalm.