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Meditation Psalm 107a

Book V
Psalms 107 – 150

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures for ever.

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.

Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
    prisoners suffering in iron chains,
because they rebelled against God’s commands
    and despised the plans of the Most High.
So he subjected them to bitter labour;
    they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
    and broke away their chains.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he breaks down gates of bronze
    and cuts through bars of iron.

(Ps. 107:1-16 NIV)

This Psalm begins book 5 of the Psalter. The Psalmist begins with a call to worship. We are to give thanks to God because He is good. God has been good to us and showed His love towards us in choosing us in Christ from before the foundations of the earth were put in place, by sending Christ to die for us on the cross and by the Holy Spirit applying salvation to us. This salvation is not a temporary salvation, it is eternal because the covenant love (hesed) of the Lord endures forever.

Those whom the Lord have redeemed are to tell their story of what the Lord has done for them. Like many of the Psalms their application is timeless. Our generation can use this Psalm to praise the Lord for our deliverance. All of us were spiritually delivered when God saved us. Many will have experienced a physical, emotional or material deliverance and will be able to praise God for His love and compassion. We can tell our story to ourselves to remind ourselves of the goodness of God toward us. We can tell our story to others to encourage them. We may experience deliverance from our foes. The NT mentions the world, the flesh and the devil. We all need the help of God to overcome each of these foes.

Over the centuries God has been pleased to raise up a people for Himself from all corners of the world.

The desert wastelands in v4 may refer to the 40 years of wilderness journey, or the time of Exile, but we can also apply that to our own lives. It could refer to a period of spiritual lostness in our lives, a time when we had grown cold in heart and were away from the Lord. It is the Lord’s delight to restore the soul. When we were wandering we had no clearly defined way, like travelling to a city, we just wandered without direction or purpose. There was no place for us to settle. Just like physical hunger and thirst our spiritual hunger and thirst were not satisfied and the life ebbed from us, and we know no joy or vitality to live.

From a place of despair the people of God cried out and the Lord delivered them. Now the people of God have a straight path to follow, with a sense of direction. He provides shelter, food and water. Now that we have received deliverance we should once again give thanks to the covenant LORD for His unfailing love (hesed). The deeds of the Lord are truly wonderful, he fills the hungry and satisfies the thirsty, He gives good things to His children. How merciful the Lord is because this happens many times in our lives. If we were at the mercy of a committee of people, we would not do well. Soon their patience would run out with us, we would appear so many times looking for forgiveness and deliverance from the same problem. The Lord though is patient with His children though we ought not to take that for granted and be careless in the way we live.

In v10-16 the Psalmist considers those who would have been held in some kind of prison or captivity. The darkness, deepest gloom and iron chains signal despair, restriction of rights and the judgement of God. This state of affairs came about because the people had wilfully rebelled against the sovereign Lord. When we read something like this, we think the people must have been vile sinners. How could they blatantly sin against the Lord if they really were the Lord’s people. We excuse ourselves, thinking that we have never done anything like that. Did you ever tell a lie, or a half truth? Did you ever deceive someone? Did you ever take something that was not yours? Did you ever misrepresent another person to make them appear in a bad light? Did you ever feel jealous of someone, or want what they have? Has pride ever got the better of you? Have you ever put your confidence in something other than God? That is making an idol. Are these sins less than what the Psalmist is describing? We live in an age were a very shallow view of sin exists. Because the world doesn’t rate sin highly, that mindset becomes our mindset and sin can be dismissed lightly as really not that much of a problem. The problem is when you tell your first lie, the second one comes easier and successive lies hardly give us a second thought. This is how the sin described by the Psalmist crept up on the people he is describing. We can despise the council of God’s word by not paying attention to it. We decide matters by hunches that we have or intuitions that we have. We feel we know what spiritual is and so we make decisions without reference to the word of God. There is not a single human being (apart from our Lord) who has ever lived or will ever live, who manages to have a total grasp of the teaching of Scripture. There is always more to learn, more to discern of the mind of Christ as it is revealed in His word. The people didn’t bother paying attention to God’s revealed word. They had the law and the prophets, but then they had heard so many sermons and what new thing could they expect?

The Lord punished these people by subjecting them to bitter labour. Our work can become a real toil. We work so hard that we have no time for the Lord and then work can become bitter labour. When the people had worked themselves into a problem, they then lifted their head to heaven and cried out for help. Our life can be like that. We move forward without reference to God, find circumstances out of control and no sooner have we experienced the Lord’s grace and mercy in deliverance until we are back on the ‘go it alone’ track.

When the Lord hears our cries for help we should return our thanks to God, because of His unfailing love (hesed). Whatever had held the people in bondage, whether a literal incarceration, habit of indulgence or misuse of chemicals the Lord can deliver us and we should give Him thanks.

Prayer
LORD God, You are sovereign in all things. Forgive us for trying to steal that sovereignty and trying to take it for ourselves, to be sovereign in our own decisions and plans. We are clearly not capable of taking that upon ourselves as our past record of folly has shown us. Teach us the wisdom of bowing to Your sovereign counsel, and seeking to walk in Your way. We have lost so much time in bypaths and lanes that lead nowhere. Lord help us to be people of Your word and teach us to discern the best from the good, and right from wrong, because we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.