This week at Woodland we transition from our series on “work” to thinking about how our work in God’s world interacts with God’s Mission in the world.
Unlikely as it might seem at first (with its images of giant fish and withering plants), the Old Testament Book of Jonah will be the place where, in the coming weeks, we will see God joining His large-scale work among nations and peoples with His work among individual people—like Jonah, but also you and me.
Before beginning Jonah next week, however, we consider a psalm that introduces the heart-issues with which Jonah will struggle. While originally addressed to the Nation of Israel in its quest to find restoration after its exile in Babylon, Psalm 106 causes those of us who live after the cross to ask: What kind of people does God want us to be as we participate in His mission for the world? … What is our right response to our gracious God who sends us out in mission?
The psalm is a long one recounting Israel’s need to praise God for His gracious acts (:1-5), Israel’s need to acknowledge its sinfulness (:6-46) and Israel’s need to continue to trust God for deliverance (:47-48). “Save us, O LORD God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise” (:47).
Like the Nation, our right response to our gracious God is praise, acknowledgement of sinfulness and trust for deliverance.
We’ll see, next week, that Jonah (though living a bit before the exile and the Nation’s restoration) will struggle with all aspects of this psalmist’s injunction.
For the moment, circle up with someone with whom you discuss Scripture. Consider the following questions as you reflect on Psalm 106.
Where do you most struggle with the psalmist’s commendation for responding to God’s gracious acts? Is it hard for you to praise God always? How about acknowledging sinfulness? Or, trusting God?
What do you find most amazing about God’s gracious acts? (Think of God’s mission in sending Jesus, providing atonement for our sins, not to mention God’s work of including us in His mission to the world.)
What do you think about the idea that having our sins covered isn’t the same thing as forgetting them? While realizing that God doesn’t hold our sins against us (Ps 103.11-12), when is it a good time to reflect on our own sinfulness?
Why is trust in God an ongoing need in the Christian life? Why can’t we just “get saved” and be done with it?
What are some images that come to your mind regarding the Book of Jonah? What do you think this message on Psalm 106 has to do with that book we’ll be starting next week?