Depending upon your perspective and state of mind, this might be a difficult time of month: there is only Psalm appointed both for Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, but it’s a long one. Psalms 102 through 109 are among the longest in the psalter, and unless you’re using an easier (or “watered-down” as some would say) psalter, you have to plow through the whole thing in one go.
Today it’s Psalm 105 in the morning and 106 in the evening. Something that makes the length of these two a bit easier to manage is the fact that they’re both historical, or story-telling, psalms. And to some degree 106 is a continuation of 105.
Psalm 105’s first 11 verses set the tone: let us give thanks to God and rejoice for his promises to (and covenant with) Abraham.
Verses 12-23 summarizing some of the patriarchal history, wandering in Canaan, through to the arrival of Joseph in Egypt, and the movement of the Israelite clans there after him.
Verses 24-37 tell of the oppression in Egypt, the call of Moses, and the exodus.
Verses 38-44 conclude the Psalm with God’s subsequent provision and guidance in the wilderness. The overall tone of Psalm 105 is positive: it celebrates what God had done for his people, and calls us to rejoice in this memory.
Psalm 106 takes a rather different mood. Its introductory six verses, while beginning with a call to give thanks to God, highlights God’s mercy as the reason for our thankfulness, because “We have sinned like our Fathers, * we have done wrong and dealt wickedly.”
Verses 7-12 repeat the exodus story, noting the unfaithfulness of God’s people, and how they didn’t really trust him until the Egyptians were drowned in the Red Sea.
Verses 13-31 tell of a few episodes of further unfaithfulness, as they “forgot his works” and continually complained and rebelled against Moses and their God. A couple instances of divine judgment are poured out, culminating with the plague which was stayed by the righteous action of Phineas (cf. Numbers 25). It’s especially fascinating to note that the phrase “it was reckoned to him as righteousness” appears twice in the Old Testament: once here, and once for Abraham’s faith.
Verses 32-46 conclude with more instances of unfaithfulness and disobedience, but God “remembered his covenant and pitied them, according to the multitude of his mercies.” We pray, in this Psalm, that God would likewise deliver us from all our troubles, and remind ourselves to praise him forever and ever.
A regular pray-er of the Psalms is therefore well-rehearsed in these Old Testament stories, and has a ready-made application for them: exhortations to repent, to trust, to follow God. There are other history psalms besides these two, but these are the biggest, and occupy our attentions in the Daily Offices of the 20th day of the month. Hopefully these reflections will help you push through them if you find their length daunting!