While walking through my Bible reading plan, there are some passages that stand out to me more than others. The other morning I found myself staring into the pages of Psalm 106 only to see myself staring back. My story, and I would wager that it’s yours as well, is reflected so beautifully in this Psalm. A song written about the goodness of God amidst the sinfulness of His people.
Psalm 106 is a history lesson for the people of Israel and a powerful reminder of the tension that exists between the goodness of God and the pain and suffering that we experience as a result of our own sin and failure. Throughout history, this tension has been evident in the lives of God’s people, and even today we feel the effects of it’s burdensome presence.
Consider the life of King David as an example.
David was a man after God’s own heart, and he experienced many of the blessings that come from walking in obedience to God. He was anointed as king, he defeated his enemies, and he led Israel in worship and praise. Yet, even in the midst of his successes, David also experienced the pain and consequences of his sin. After all, it was David who caused the death of 70,000 men because of his pride (1 Chron 21). This same David also sinned with Bathsheba and then killed her husband in an attempt to hide what he had done (2 Sam 11).
Yet, David did not cease to be loved by God. Take a moment and let that sink in. David did not forever lose his relationship with the Almighty, even after commiting incredibly sinful acts. The goodness of God still remained.
God’s goodness leads Him to listen to the broken
After his sin with Bathsheba, David cries out to God in repentance, acknowledging his sin and seeking forgiveness. He writes, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” (Psalm 51:1-2, ESV). Yes, David’s sin was real, it was devastating, and it led to some long-term trauma in his family. Yet, even when faced with the resulting pain of his sinful action he knew that God’s goodness was still available and so he turns to God in humility and repentance – and God hears him.
This brings us back to Psalm 106. The psalmist begins by recounting the mighty works of God for the people of Israel. He speaks of the miracles that God performed on their behalf, the ways in which He rescued them from their enemies, and the provisions that He made for them in the wilderness. It is a powerful reminder of the goodness of God, of His love for His people, and of His willingness to go to great lengths to protect and provide for them.
Like David, they had experienced the blessings of God and his mighty deliverance. But then the psalmist takes a turn.
He acknowledges the sin and rebellion of the people of Israel. He speaks of their idolatry, their disobedience, and their lack of faith. He acknowledges the ways in which they turned away from God and pursued their own desires, even when it meant forsaking the very One who had rescued them.
Again, like David, the end of Psalm 106 finds Israel crying out for salvation once again singing, “Save us, O Lord God.” For the hundredth time, the reality of their sin led them to cry out to God, the One who reigns in mercy and grace. Even after recounting all the ways they had failed, the psalmist knew God’s goodness could be trusted with their sinful past.
Do you feel that tension? I know that I do.
It is this tension between God’s goodness and our own sin that confronts us each and every day as followers of Jesus. We are the ones who have rebelled against God, who have turned away from His love and His provision. We don’t deserve grace – we deserve wrath. And yet, even in the midst of our sin, God remains faithful. He does not abandon us or turn His back on us but continues to pursue us with His love and grace. In fact, if we are in Christ then we do not grieve our sins without hope. We should grieve them for sure, but with an eye toward the Lamb of God who has taken away our sins.
Take that tension to the cross
The tension between God’s goodness and our own sin finds its ultimate resolution in Jesus Christ. He is the one who took the weight of our sin upon Himself, who bore the punishment that we deserved, and who offers us forgiveness and redemption through His death and resurrection. As Paul writes in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If God showed the greatest act of love in full view of our wretchedness, why would things change now that we have been made His children?
Therefore, Romans 5:8 is where this tension can be put to rest. Yes, my sin is a constant reminder of my flesh, but in Christ it is not counted against me. I have been forgiven. I have been set free.
Through Jesus, we can find joy and peace in the midst of our struggles, even if those struggles are self-caused, even if they come by way of a loving Father’s discipline. We can remember that even in our sin and suffering, God is at work, bringing about redemption and restoration.
As we reflect on Psalm 106 and the tension between God’s goodness and our own sin, may we always return to Jesus – our only hope. May we find joy and peace in the truth of the gospel, knowing that we are loved and accepted by God, even as we struggle with our ever present sin.
Pastor of Church Communications
Mike grew up in North Carolina, moving to Lynchburg with his family to attend Liberty’s School of Divinity. He has been involved in Christian media for over 20 years and has a passion for using modern means to proclaim the ultimate truth of the Gospel.