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Psalm 106:16-23 - Rebellion, Judgment, and Mercy

Posted on November 9, 2016 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Psalm 106:16-23 (KJV) – Rebellion, Judgment, and Mercy


Psalm 106:16 They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the Lord. 17 The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan and covered the company of Abiram. 18 And a fire was kindled in their company; the flame burned up the wicked.


The incident referred to in verses 16-18 is recorded in Numbers chapter 16. Here are the basics of the account:


Korah, Dathan, and 250 men, community leaders of the Israelites were jealous of Moses and Aaron and accused them of setting themselves up as the aristocracy of the group and the rest as mere peasantry.


Moses instructed these Levites to prepare their censers with coal and incense to burn before the Lord at the tent of meeting. He and Aaron would be there as well. Dathan and some others refused to present themselves.


Numbers 16:19 When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the Lord appeared to the entire assembly. 20 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.”


Sounds like God was ready to extinguish everyone but Moses and Aaron! What happened? We know He didn’t destroy all His chosen people and start over with Moses and Aaron. Moses and Aaron fell facedown and interceded for the people.


God then told them to have everyone move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Moses told them the Lord was going to authenticate Moses and Aaron’s positions of leadership. After everyone moved away, the three men, their entire families, and all their possessions were swallowed alive by the earth! There would be no chance of future rebellion by their descendants.


In addition to this, the 250 men who had followed Korah in this rebellion were miraculously consumed by fire.


When the people grumbled that Moses and Aaron had killed the Lord’s people, God sent a plague among them. Moses took the only position of strength he could as a human being – he and Aaron fell face-down and prayed. Moses then instructed Aaron to run out among the people while burning incense in his censer to make an atonement offering for them. The plague stopped, but 14,700 people had already died from it. God is sovereign and has the right to judge those He created. His judgement was tempered with mercy because there were those who survived the plague.


Psalm 106:19 They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image. 20 Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.


Do these people never learn? You would think after seeing the earth swallow people and fire consume others, they would have a little reverence for the Lord’s power! Plagues, parting seas, destroying trouble-makers…but the Israelites remained clueless!


According to the account in Exodus 32, Moses did not come back from meeting with the Lord on the mountain as soon as the people expected, so they asked Aaron to make them a god to worship. He melted down their gold jewelry and fashioned a calf. They worshipped it, feasted, and reveled in front of it with drunkenness and unholy intimacies.


When Moses came down, what did he make them do? He made them own up to their sin by melting the calf, grounding it into powder, adding water to it, and making them drink it. He also had the Levites that were on the Lord’s side kill several of them with the sword.






106:21 They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt; 22 Wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea. 23 Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.


God said He would wipe out this people and start over with Moses, making a great nation of him; but Moses interceded by reminding God that He had a reputation to uphold of justice tempered with mercy which annihilating Abraham’s descendants would not project. The Egyptians might accuse God of leading His people out of captivity only to destroy them in the wilderness. The Lord told Moses He would punish the people who had actually sinned against Him. Once again, He sent a plague among them.


Chew on This: We may think the Israelites were pretty dense to keep on challenging Moses and, therefore, God, and to disobey the Lord so blatantly. However, are their times we know what God’s word says to do and deliberately do the opposite? Do we intercede for those we know who are in rebellion against the Lord as Moses did?