Do me a favor and please read Psalm 107.
Well, we are now at the last section of the 5 “books of Psalms.” Psalm 107-150 are considered “thanksgiving” psalms as we are woven through thoughts, prayers, and experiences by the people.
What’s interesting is that this psalm encourages the reader to “give thanks” for his enduring love and does so through a redeemed story. But what’s interesting is that it’s a redeemed story that is extremely inclusive. Maye I have short term memory but I do not recall a psalm with “redeemed history” that included people going out onto the sea in ships (vs 23). I do not recall a history of God’s people where a good number of them were looking at death upon the waves and cried out to God and his whisper calmed the sea (vs 29). I remember Jonah, but that was 1 man. Noah was just him and his family and still there was no “merchants” or time when God’s whisper calmed the waters. We have Jesus calming the sea in Mark 4:35-41 but that’s New Testament so we can’t go there here.
So what’s going on here?
As we read this psalm, while we read of people doing things we have never seen before. We should recognize that this psalm is inviting ALL of God’s people to realize his saving grace from where they are. As we read in verse 2, “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell THEIR STORY…” So what’s your story of God’s love, his redemption, his hand of protection?
Verses 3-9 reflect a time from the Exodus and the people of God wandering in the desert wastelands (vs 4). Have you ever been wandering and in need? We read of a time when God’s people were hungry and thirsty and God gave them manna and quail (Exodus 16). We read of God leading them into the Promised Land book of Joshua. A time of God bringing his people out of Egypt into a land flowing with milk and honey. Have you ever found yourself crying out to God to provide and bring you food when you had no money to buy it? I know many people have. I’ve heard numerous stories of people on their last loaf of bread and the next day, by the grace of God, food was delivered, money was found, or people came through with brotherly/sisterly love.
Verses 10-16 speak of the book of Judges, Kings, and Lamentations. A time when the people consistently rebelled against God and his desires for his people. Time and time again they pushed against him, worshipped others, ignored his commands, and chose to do something different. So they were punished. They were taken over and brought into captivity and while there they cried out, acknowledged their sins, and God delivered. How many of us have chosen to walk away from God’s desires of us only to find that his ways were right? Disregarding his plans and commands for us brings us to chaos, hopelessness, and leads to a destructive path. But even when down that road we cry out to God for restoration…and are brought back into goodness, hope, and love.
Verses 17-22 reflect those who simply were foolish and chose to keep being rebellious. Knowing that they needed to turn to God, knowing that simply calling out would bring restoration, their ignorance, stubbornness, and self-righteousness pushed them to near death. And it was here, as they stared at death directly, that they fell to their knees and repented. And it is even here that God’s unfailing love (vs 21) still finds them. While I’ve never looked at death in the face I have been foolish numerous times.
Verses 23-32 is a beautiful declaration of God’s sovereignty over the depths of the ocean. But even more so it’s God’s voice over chaos and believed evil. There was a common belief back then that the sea was full of evil monsters and it was where evil reigned and worked. And while they went to sea to get food they were taking a risk of going there. And so for God to “still the storm to a whisper” and “hushed” the waves of the sea declares that when life is a storm, a chaos, and outside of OUR control it is not outside of HIS control. How often has YOUR life been in chaos and not only did God calm it but then “guided” you home (vs 30)? Maybe you haven’t been in a raging sea but I’m sure your life has been calmed by his voice, presence, and love.
Verses 33-38 reflect God’s ability to change a desert oasis that is full of abundant life into a deserted dry, and thirsty area – but then back again for the sake of his people. And finally, verses 39-42 speak of what happened to the Israelite people after they were taken over by the Babylonians and forced into captivity (Jeremiah 29:1-14). A time of chaos and heartache of feeling like there was nothing for them – and yet God told them to dig in, plant vineyards and have your children married.
Simply put, God has always been and will always be there to save his people. And why? Because his love endures, his hand moves, his grace abounds, and he will not allow his people to be abandoned. And so as verse 43 encourages, as you read these things, as you ponder God’s enduring hand, as you reflect on your life and what he’s done for you also too “ponder” the love of God. How vast, deep, great, and abundant it is.