He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.
As I was thinking on the 111th psalm, verse 4 reminded me of a negative application of the same thought in 2 Peter 1:9: But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. The psalmist said God has made His work to be remembered while Peter said the one who does not care to build on his faith by adding Christian graces will soon forget the mighty works that God has done in his life.
I think it is interesting how many times the Old Testament retells the story of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. I have commented on this before from other psalms and scripture texts, and here we find it again in more subtle references in the 111th psalm. It seems the crowning achievement of all God’s wonderful works for His people is how God humbled the defiant Egyptian Pharaoh and brought His people out with a mighty strong arm. He brought them through the perils of the wilderness and gave them the land promised to Abraham. This is reflected in verse 6: He hath shewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen. The scriptures continue to remind of this fact so that Israel would never lose the assurance that God was on their side and would always fulfill His promises to them.
The same is true for the Christian today. Our deliverance in the moment of our salvation when God broke through the stronghold sin had on our hearts is a grand touchstone to return to time and time again. God brought us into the marvelous light of the gospel of Christ and became the author of our eternal salvation. Like Israel’s remembrance of deliverance from Egypt, this is our place of remembrance of God’s wonderful works.
There is, however, another similarity between the 111th psalm and the quest for holiness in 2 Peter 1. Israel was taken into captivity because they forgot what God did for them. They were not careful to maintain their obedience which caused them to fall and to experience bitter chastisement. The Christian has the same propensity if he is not careful to maintain his focus on Christ. We will also fail and find ourselves back in the captivity of sin.
This is what Peter warns against in 2 Peter 1:9. The person who forgets that he was purged from his old sins will soon fall into those old sins again. We are doomed to repeat our past mistakes which is the exact problem with Israel. Old sins always yield the same results—it never changes. The loss of assurance is its fruit; when the fruit of the Christian life should be grace, peace, and the contentment of resting in God’s promises.
As I read the psalm and compared it to 2 Peter, I was also reminded how scripture says Old Testament stories were given to warn us not to fall in the same holes as Israel. We must guard ourselves and be diligent to add all spiritual graces. This is the sure method of never failing to remember God’s wonderful works. Look at the world around you and see the immensity of His power. And then, look into your heart once blackened by sin and see it cleansed by the gospel of Christ. Keep looking and you will never forget the joy of being purged from your old sins.
Pastor V. Mark Smith