Psalm 105:1-5 (NASB 2020)
Give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name;
Make His deeds known among the peoples.
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
Tell of all His wonders.
Boast in His holy name;
May the heart of those who seek the LORD be joyful.
Seek the LORD and His strength;
Seek His face continually.
Remember His wonders which He has done,
His marvels and the judgments spoken by His mouth
One theme we see repeated as we read the Old Testament is the importance placed on remembering the things God has done in the lives of His people. Whether it is a holy day such as Passover, which every year reminds of God’s faithfulness in bringing the Jews out of Egypt, or the 12 stones taken from the middle of the Jordan River and built into a memorial to God for drying up the river before the Ark of the Covenant, it is clear that remembering the works of God is something that God’s children should be doing consciously and constantly.
When we read these verses this comes as no surprise. Of course we should remember what God has done in our lives and in the lives of others! God is always working in our lives. He provides for us on a daily basis and listens to our prayers, sometimes moving in ways that are beyond anything we could have imagined. When we see the wonders of God in our lives it is natural for us to want to tell others about all that He has done. This was undoubtedly true of the Israelites as well, but there was another crucial element to this concept of remembering that is often lost on us because of the differences in our cultures, and it all comes down to how we view time.
If I was to ask what direction was associate with the future the answer would be obvious… it is forward. Someone who is planning for the future is said to be “forward thinking” and successful businesses will always be “moving forward” whereas struggling businesses are said to be “stuck in the past.” It is so natural for us to associate the future with what is in front of us that we don’t give it a second thought. But if I was to go back in time and ask someone from ancient Israel what direction they associate with the future, they would say “backwards.” And that may seem rather odd, but it all has to do with where they get their perspective.
We get our perspective by looking to what is to come but the Israelites would get their perspective by looking at what has happened. A helpful illustration of this idea is to think of an Olympic rowing team where the crew leader is facing forward while the rest of the team is looking backwards. The team is able to get their bearings not by looking at where they are going, but rather by looking at where they have been and that gives them the perspective they need to travel forward with confidence.
In life we are all traveling into a future that none of us can see, but we know that God can see it. By looking back and see where God has taken us and remembering what He has done in our lives and in the lives of others, we can get our bearings. This change in perspective allows us to live our lives with confidence knowing that God has been faithful in the past and He will continue to be faithful in the future.