Psalms 105 and 106 share the same theme. They make an attempt to
interpret the history of the Jewish people. A large number of people
who belonged to different tribes settled in the place now called
Israel. That happened at least 12 centuries before Christ. How they
happened to get there, and how they further organized themselves to
become a nation, and how they got scattered again is the subject of
Life was not easy for them. They were slaves in Egypt. Once they got
out of slavery, they had to wander around in the deserts for about
half a century before they could settle down in Israel. It was
important for their survival to stand together. Initially, they
managed to function together under the leaders called Judges. Later
they managed to become a kingdom. After enjoying their freedom for a
brief period of time, they had to surrender it to the neighboring
empires. Most of them were made captives or slaves in Babylon and
elsewhere. These psalms were probably written at that time. Psalm
106 ends with this prayer: Save us, LORD, our God; gather us from
among the nations that we may give thanks to your holy name.
It is often said that India has stood as an entity for centuries
because of its legends and epics from the ancient past such as
Ramayana and Mahabharata. These stories and their characters live in
the collective unconscious of the people of India. This is true
about the Jewish people as well. Stories from the ancient past
served to keep them together and give meaning to their life. The
heroes such as Abraham, Joseph, and Moses lived in their collective
unconscious explaining life to them, and motivating them to face the
challenges of life.
The story of Abraham was the very basis upon which they founded
their life. According to their story, Abraham was such a righteous
person that he gained the friendship of Yahweh. Pleased at his
righteousness, Yahweh agreed to give the land of Israel to his
"I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you." (Gen 12:2-3)
This agreement was further confirmed with Isaac, and then with
Jacob. Thus the children of Abraham became a special people of
Yahweh, protected by an agreement.
With this agreement as the beginning point, the psalmist traces the
history of the Jewish people to find out if this agreement was kept
or not. Psalm 105 tells how Yahweh kept His part of the agreement.
Psalm 106 tells how the people did not keep their part of the
agreement. They remembered their privileges but forgot their
responsibilities. They believed that God's blessing stopped with
them, and not realized that they were a medium for God to bless all
the people in the world.
Even at the time of Jesus, the Pharisees asserted their privileges
for being the children of Abraham. That is why John, the Baptist,
chides them for claiming to have Abraham as their father. John
angrily calls them a brood of vipers and asserts that God is able to
raise children for Abraham from the stones on the ground. All those
who forget their responsibilities, and claim their privileges and
rights are vipers.
Any nation or people may believe that God has chosen them as a
special people. But God chooses someone or some people not just to
give a privilege, but to assign a responsibility. God's calling does
not make anyone or any people superior to others. God always calls
someone or some people to be a medium through which God can bless
all the people in the world.