is a fact: in a Psalm of praise the first instruction is often a command to
others to praise God.
Psalms 107:1-3 NIV BOOK V : Psalms 107-150
thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever. (2) Let the
redeemed of the LORD say this--
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, (3)
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south. 
(The notation starting “Book V” is in accord
with the Hebrew notion that the Psalms can be divided into five sections, each
one a parallel to the Pentateuch.)
of the reasons we are commanded to give thanks to God is simply this: there is
not much else you can do for him. What do you buy to give the God who created
the universe? And for what do we give thanks?
that he is good. He is a righteous God, who wants us to be righteous
too. He does not condone evil. (Consider the opposite possibility for a
that his love endures forever. You cannot exhaust his mercy – though many
of us have tried.
these two aspects – love and righteousness – we can detect the one-word theme
of the Bible: redemption. Righteousness demands ransom; love provides it at
the Cross. God redeems us!
redeems us from everyone. Even when the enemy is us.
redeems us from everywhere. Even those of us who have said,
“Goodbye, God, I’m moving to Southern California.”
wanderers and fools
this day of post-modern thinking it’s fashionable to tell Christians, “Oh, I’m
glad that works for you.” It works for “whosoever will.” The Psalmist
(probably not David) gives us four examples.
Psalms 107:4-9 NIV Some wandered
in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle. (5)
They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away. (6) Then they
cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress. (7)
He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle. (8) Let
them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men, (9) for he
satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.
are unguided missiles (rocks to rockets) and guided missiles. But did you know
there are no self-guided missiles? The concept makes no sense. You want the
missile to hit a particular target – not pick out a nearby tree on its own.
But there are self-guided people: bold, independent thinkers for whom
self-guidance is a point of pride. God redeems such people.
interesting how it’s phrased here: “by a straight way.” Once they cry to the
Lord, the wanderer is given a road map showing the straight path. Many such
people are wandering, looking for the right answer. But as our Lord says,
Matthew 5:6 NIV Blessed are
those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Psalms 107:10-16 NIV Some
sat in darkness and the deepest gloom,
prisoners suffering in iron chains, (11) for
they had rebelled against the words of God
and despised the counsel of the Most High. (12)
So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help. (13)
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress. (14)
He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom
and broke away their chains. (15) Let them
give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men, (16) for he
breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.
be clear about this. Wanderer’s are self-guided missiles. These people who
rebel against the words of God are those who deliberately do what they know to
be wrong. The most visible example of this is the prisoner in jail. One of
the effects of prison is that it is not supposed to be warm and comfortable –
and there is no one there to turn to. Prison society is very perilous.
when the prisoner sees no hope, no light that he turns to the hope of the
hopeless, the light of the world. Some people have to find the bottom of the
ladder to recognize it as such.
Psalms 107:17-22 NIV Some
became fools through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. (18)
They loathed all food
and drew near the gates of death. (19) Then
they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress. (20)
He sent forth his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave. (21) Let them
give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men. (22) Let
them sacrifice thank offerings
and tell of his works with songs of joy.
understand this bunch clearly. They are not great thinkers or great criminals;
they’re rather ordinary people who just want to have things their own way.
Their “own way” is what the Scripture calls iniquity; these are the people who
suffer from the natural consequences of their sin. Picture a three pack a day
smoker dying of lung cancer, for example. Human iniquity healed by God’s
key is this: they knew what they were doing. It wasn’t an accident; they
simply ignored God’s warning. How great is the love of God; he rescues even
Psalms 107:23-32 NIV Others
went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters. (24)
They saw the works of the LORD,
his wonderful deeds in the deep. (25) For he
spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves. (26) They mounted
up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away. (27)
They reeled and staggered like drunken men;
they were at their wits' end. (28) Then they
cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress. (29)
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed. (30) They
were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven. (31)
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men. (32) Let
them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders.
about, though, the good guys? In Jewish thought a rich merchant was presumed
to blessed by God. But as Solomon said, time and chance happen to all.
Sometimes even the honest man is afflicted by what happens around him. Perhaps
this is so that we will see the providence of God. Perhaps even more so that
we will praise God for his rescue.
well and good, you say – but none of these really fit me. The next section
will: it deals with the complacent.
Psalms 107:33-42 NIV He
turned rivers into a desert,
flowing springs into thirsty ground, (34) and
fruitful land into a salt waste,
because of the wickedness of those who lived there. (35)
He turned the desert into pools of water
and the parched ground into flowing springs; (36)
there he brought the hungry to live,
and they founded a city where they could settle. (37)
They sowed fields and planted vineyards
that yielded a fruitful harvest; (38) he
blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
and he did not let their herds diminish. (39)
Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled
by oppression, calamity and sorrow; (40) he
who pours contempt on nobles
made them wander in a trackless waste. (41)
But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
and increased their families like flocks. (42)
The upright see and rejoice,
but all the wicked shut their mouths.
the Lord blesses
Psalmist would no have trouble identifying just such a set of circumstances in
history; it would be the Exodus. Like so:
God destroyed the occupants of the Promised Land. They, the wicked, we
destroyed or kicked out.
the poor – the wandering Israelites – were given this land, and God
blessed it for them.
familiar? How was America born?
soon the Israelites grew fat and complacent. They chased after other gods;
they got drunk early and often; adultery became common (temple prostitutes, you
know). So God chastised them with:
– he set rulers over them whose only purpose was to squeeze out as much
labor as possible.
– natural disasters (think drought).
– that sense of hopelessness that comes from knowing it’s your own stupid
interesting to see that God pours contempt upon the leaders of this nation. He
knows who’s doing it; but he has not forgotten the oppressed and needy. As the
leaders grow worse, the humble are quietly blessed. (Does anyone see anything
like that today in America?)
they see this, the righteous should rejoice, for it is the hand of God at
rejoice over the affliction of the wicked. Every time some corrupt
politician is exposed and convicted, the righteous should rejoice!
rejoice over the needy being fed. Think about the smiles that accompanied
a truckload of food for Haiti after their earthquake.
rejoicing is for the righteous – but to participate you have to believe in the
providence of God. All good things have their natural causes, but ultimately
it is God who works all things together who is to be praised.
Psalms 107:43 NIV Whoever is
wise, let him heed these things
and consider the great love of the LORD.
we end with three thoughts for the wise?
for the providence of God. Things may not be the way you want them now,
but God still rules.
you see them, take heed to what he does. It’s always cheaper to learn
from others’ mistakes – or successes.
consider that you can offer nothing but praise to God – in response to his
great love. He loved so much that he sent his son; no greater love can