Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Memory and Gratitude (2)

This post expands on the third point in my previous post on the importance of memory.

A few months ago, I was reading Ps. 105-106, and because I had memory on my mind, I noticed both psalms are about remembering. God remembers and Israel does not. Also, the Psalmist exhorts both Israel and God to remember. Some examples:
  • "Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced" (105:5), the psalm declares, and proceeds to recount those wonders, miracles and judgments.
  • "He remembers his covenant forever; the word he commanded, for a thousand generations" (8). God is praised for remembering his promises.
  • "For he remembered his holy promise given to his servant Abraham" (42).
  • "Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them" (106:4).
  • "They did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea" (7). In contrast to God's faithfulness as seen through his remembering, Israel forgets God, which leads to rebellion.
  • "They soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his counsel. In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wasteland they put God to the test." (13-14) Forgetting begets impatience, mistrust, greed, short-sightedness.
  • "They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt, miracles in the land of Ham and awesome deeds by the Red Sea" (21-22).
  • "But he took note of their distress when he heard their cry; for their sake he remembered his covenant and out of his great love he relented" (44-45). God's rescue of his people is directly connected to his remembering.
A search of BibleGateway for verses containing "remember" brings up many commands to Israel to remember (especially in Deuteronomy), many pleas to God to remember his covenant or his servants (especially in Psalms and in Nehemiah), and many promises from God that He does remember (everywhere). Remembering was vitally important to Israel, because their lives depended on God remembering his covenant, and on them remembering God's commands. Thus the dozens of commands to remember: "Remember the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8), "Remember the day you stood before the Lord at Horeb" (Deut. 4:10), "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt" (Deut. 5:15), "Do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharoah and all of Egypt" (Deut. 7:18), etc.

How often do churches today exhort their congregations to remember? I can't remember a lesson on memory in all my years in church and Sunday school. Memory is all about information these days; you need to remember things in school but rarely in church. In church when you are supposed to remember something, it's a memory verse, word for word, not a story or a history, not a truth, not a person.

Why? Is it because, as Zimbardo says, we are future-oriented Protestants with a bent toward trying to justify ourselves through diligence and success? I don't know, but it's something to think and pray about.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In this book on praying the Psalms, there is a chapter on memory - have you read that?

Oh and while we were studying Genesis we talked briefly about "the Lord remembered Noah" - obv. God didn't forget Noah :P but we tied it back to how God owns the time table, and the covenant exists in time...and He always remembers it.