English Basic Explanation - Chapter 106
This chapter presents a historical review of the period from the Exodus through the time of the Shofetim (judges), focusing on the unfortunate pattern of Bene Yisrael's disobedience.
Just a week after the nation left Egypt, they rebelled against God at the Yam Suf (Sea of Reeds), questioning God's ability to rescue them from the pursuing Egyptian army. The miracle of the splitting of the sea inspired the nation with faith and they sung the famous "Az Yashir" song of praise to God (Shemot, chapter 15), but they quickly forgot this miracle when they entered the desert and expressed doubt as to whether God could sustain them (verses 12-14). The Psalmist makes mention of several other unfortunate incidents in the wilderness, as well, including Korah's revolt against Moshe and Aharon (verses 16-18), the sin of the golden calf (verses 19-23), the sin of the spies (verses 24-27), and the nation's worship of the idol Ba'al Pe'or (verses 28-31).
After Bene Yisrael's entry into Canaan, the author recalls, they began a pattern of rebellion, persecution and repentance, as told in the Book of Shofetim. Time and time again, the nation followed the pagan practices of the surrounding peoples, causing God to have them subjugated by those nations. The people would then cry to God, who, in His infinite compassion, rescued them from their foes and granted them peace and security. Then the nation would again be attracted to foreign worship, in response to which God would again bring enemy peoples upon them.
The fundamental lesson of this historical survey is perhaps expressed in verse 3, when the Psalmist declares, "Fortunate are those who observe justice, he who performs kindness at all times." The Radak explains this to mean that Bene Yisrael would have enjoyed so much greater success had they "observed justice" – had they remained faithful to God. This chapter demonstrates how kindly God has dealt with Am Yisrael since their inception, despite their ongoing betrayal. We can only imagine the kindness He is prepared to bestow upon us if we are loyal to Him and His Torah, and discontinue, once and for all, the pattern of rebellion and betrayal.