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Read Psalm 107

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;

    his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
    from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in desert wastelands,
    finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
    and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
    to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
    prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
    and despised the plans 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, the utter darkness,
    and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
    and cuts through bars of iron.

17 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 out 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 mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
    and tell of his works with songs of joy.

23 Some 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 drunkards;
    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 mankind.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
    and praise him in the council of the elders.

33 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.

43 Let the one who is wise heed these things
    and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.

Go Deeper

Before we get started, say the first part of this psalm out loud:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love and mercy endure forever.

This is a creed–a statement of truth repeated in the Psalms that we shouldn’t skip past. Now, let’s look at the rest of this chapter. We have four “stories of the redeemed.” Scholars generally agree that the four compass directions mentioned earlier in this passage are related to the four stories, with one notable asterisk:

  • The Desert Refugee = East
  • The Prisoner in Chains = West
  • The Fools & Rebels = North
  • Seafaring Merchants = Sea*

In this narrative, the characters and scenery change, but the plot never does: cry of distress, God’s deliverance, thankfulness. Since the pattern stays the same, let’s update the players to modern terms–the refugee, the imprisoned, the addicted, and the cast of “The Deadliest Catch.” You fit into one of these groups.

The modern, literal refugee fits this story, but so do those who have needed to seek refuge because of an abusive family, unloving church, or a spiritual state equivalent to living and wandering through the desert. The modern prisoner fits this story, but so do those that have faced the devastating consequences of earthly sin and felt the distance from God and chains of guilt that their sin has created. For the third group–the addicted–look at verse 18, and understand that “food” can be literal food or spiritual food. Addiction isn’t limited to substances covered by federal law. Addiction encompasses all of the vices that trade our spiritual food for stuff that makes us sick. 

We then come to the fourth story. Seafaring anecdotes are pretty rare in the Old Testament. The people of Israel just didn’t spend much time in deep waters. This is ancient history, when the seas were dangerous. Consider this–the fourth group may represent the people actively following God. Following God is not free of challenges, and the fourth story depicts one of the scariest professions of the age as a vivid illustration of the fact that people living in pursuit of God will face more than they can handle. 

In a way, Psalm 107 shows us the whole of Scripture: 1) Everyone is in need of saving; 2) God works powerfully in His world to save everyone who calls on His name; and 3) Every one of these stories is worth telling.

Questions

  1. Which one of these four stanzas describes you? (There could be more than one!)
  2. Have you ever described your testimony as “boring”? What does this chapter tell you?
  3. If your walk with Jesus was a modern-day profession (or TV show), what would it be? What does that tell you?

Pray This:

Father, I’m a (refugee/prisoner/addict/voyager). I daily need your grace and strength to save me from myself. Show me today how I can praise you for your salvation and tell the story of how you’ve redeemed me. I love you, and I’m thankful for your grace and mercy every day. Amen.

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3 thoughts on “Psalm 107”

  1. What a beautiful sight it was to see 34 souls proclaim through baptism they have been redeemed as we gathered at Family Reunion last night! We shouted and clapped giving thanks to the Lord for His goodness and faithful love that endures forever. One of the Lord’s acts of faithful love to me is evidenced through the body and leadership of HCBC. V32 says “Let them exalt Him in the assembly of the people and praise Him in the council of the elders.” That’s exactly what we did last night. Praying for who God is preparing to step into eldership next.

  2. This was a particularly thought provoking psalm and I liked the comments and questions about it. Initially reading through the psalm, you can see the people in Bible history falling into each of the four categories. But, applying the lens of modern times spoken of in the comments, I’m sure many people, myself included, will see themselves in each of the four stanzas mentioned, whether in the past, presently, or in the future. That is what makes reading and applying God’s Word so fascinating. I’ve heard people who grew up in the church speak of their testimony as boring, secretly wishing I had been so fortunate. But God is using every situation I’ve lived through as a way to help others overcome similar situations or humble me from thinking “I’m a survivor.” Yes, I survived (fill in the blank), but it is only because of the grace of God that I did! All the glory and praise goes to the Lord!

  3. Christopher Koch

    The verses that were the most striking to me are 33-38. I love the way that the author portrays the images of the land suffering “because of the evil of its inhabitants”: Rivers become deserts, springs of water become thristy ground, and a fruitful land becomes a salty waste. Although seemingly harsh, these verses show that God will take a prosperous land and turn it into a waste in order to bring about his righteousness. God cannot sit idly by while injustice exists. Not just that, but he shows mercy to the hungry by reversing this judgment and making the land prosperous again. “He turns a desert into pools of water, / a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell” (verses 35-36). I can’t help but think of Matthew 5:6 when contemplating these verses: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” God opposes oppression and inquity with passion. “He pours contempt on princes / and makes them wander in trackless wastes; but he raises up the needy out of affliction / and makes their families like flocks” (verses 40-41).

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