Tent walls are thin. Night sounds travel right though them. In Bible days, the thin walls of tents were all that stood between spoken words and listening ears. Complaints, gossip, scolding, and “murmuring,” as mentioned in Psalm 106, became part of the din of everyday life.
Back then, God’s people (the Israelites) found out how their murmuring led to bigger problems.
“But they murmured in their tents and hearkened not to the voice of God.” Psalm 106:25
Bad mouthing God can become a springboard for further rebellion. The history reflected in Psalm 106 shows this truth. Weakened by their own negativism and inconsistent faith in God, the Israelites fell repetitively into idol worship, dissatisfaction, marriage and family problems, killing, disobedience, slavery, and oppression.
It makes sense. When I am busy making noise, I can’t hear other sounds very well. Unlike my hands, which I received as a pair, I have only one mouth. When my mouth is occupied with complaints, there is no room for praise.
In addition, memory loss seems to precede complaining. The Israelites often suffered from an inability to recall all the amazing things God had done for them. Three times the psalm describes this effect. Here’s one description.
“Our fathers in Egypt understood not nor appreciated Your miracles; they did not remember the multitude of Your mercies nor imprint Your loving-kindness on their hearts, but they were rebellious and provoked the Lord at the sea, even at the Red Sea.” Verse 106:7
The rest of Psalm 106 reads like a bad report card. The people of God disobeyed, discredited, and disgusted God in spite of all the times He rescued them.
The Psalmist advises a different tactic when faced with life stresses.
“Praise the Lord! O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever! Psalm 106:1
“God what a complainer I tend to be! Press my memory to become full of all the good you have done for me. Let me be sleepless from listing all the times you rescued and walked with me. Help us, God’s people, to become more appreciative and less full of whining.” Amen