“Our fathers, when they were in Egypt,
did not consider your wondrous works;
they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love,
but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
that he might make known his mighty power.” (Psalm 106:7–8 (ESV))
Reflecting on the rebellious heart of the nation of Israel, the psalmist freely admits that they did not deserve salvation. After seeing the amazingly powerful hand of God in the ten plagues, Israel still did not place its faith in the Lord.
In Exodus 14:10-12, we read of the response of the people:
“When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.””
The Hebrew word which is translated by most Bibles as “yet” or “nevertheless” points to the Lord’s action in spite of Israel’s rebellious spirit. The reason for his decision to save them was “for his name’s sake…” Although this wasn’t the reason that these rebels surmised as why the Lord saved them. The commentator H.C. Leupold states,
“For the first reaction of the nation when danger began to threaten at the shores of the Red Sea was to raise the cry that God had brought the Israelites out of Egypt in order to slay them. That can scarcely be classed as gratitude for the mighty works that He had done in their behalf.”—H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1959), 746.
So, why did the Lord save them? And even more important for us, why did he save you or me? Why does God save, not just these, but any sinful person? What is his ultimate purpose? It is not first and foremost for the relief of our misery or for our happiness. These are results, yes, but not the Lord’s primary concern. His ultimate purposes are doxological–that he might receive glory and that he would act according to his holy, merciful, and righteous character. His character is on full display as the powerful and merciful God, and this is seen in his saving grace.
We, who are saved in Christ, are trophies of his grace. We are the manifestation of the love of God. But even more so, we can look at what the Lord has done in salvation and stand in amazement at what an amazing God he truly is!