Remembrance and its opposite - Sixth in a series
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. (Ps 103:1-2) The Psalmist is reflecting upon the many reasons to thank the Lord: For forgiving sins, for healing our diseases, for redeeming us from destruction, for so many loving and merciful deeds to us, for nourishment, for executing righteous judgment for those in need, for his piteous care.
Yet the history of Israel, God's own people, is a litany of forgetting. Despite the miracles establishing her as a nation and the multitude of deliverances over the centuries, she was wayward and idolatrous in times of peace and prosperity.
As promised— or threatened as it were, when God's people forgot Him, he heaped mischiefs upon them and spent his arrow on them; he enforced hunger and burning heat on their frames; wild beasts and serpents attacked them. "The sword without, and terror within" destroyed young and old alike. (Deut 32:23-25)
Both the Old and New Testaments remind and warn us to be diligent to remember the Lord in all our ways. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" (Mat 6:33); Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. (Rev 3:3); Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day. (Deut 8:11)
The punishment for forgetting is: even more forgetfulness. A frightening prospect! The careless turn from remembering the Lord devolves to an erosion of memory, a mark of temporal judgment that may foreshadow eternal damnation.
Isaiah describes this process.
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. (Is 6:8-12)
The sorrowful judgment was also described by Christ:
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. (Mat 13:16)
It was both Isaiah's and the Lord’s ministry to prophesy, knowing their words would fall on deaf ears. Thus, the warnings of God, ignored, would result in very severe desolations. Yet, a small number in the land would hear and respect God's Words.
Likewise, for us today, the forgetful do not appreciate that we have God's Word for help in every need, and as they ignore and discount it, at first rebelliously and then by his divine enforcement, tragedies and miseries are in view. Perhaps some would criticize: Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?" (Rom 9:19)
Will enlightenment be given to the defiant?
Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Ps 60:4