Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. – Psalms 107:2 NLT
In this Psalm, we have four word pictures of the people of God being returned by God from captivity. If you are reading along with us in The Quest, our daily reading through the Old Testament, we have been going back and forth from the Psalms to 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. In Chronicles, the author is addressing the people of Israel who have just recently returned to the land of Israel after having spent 70 years in captivity in Babylon. This Psalm addresses that same group. It emphasizes the lovingkindness of God expressed toward them even though they had rebelled against Him. He uses these four word pictures or visual metaphors to paint the dire nature of Israel's fate. One is that of a person on a journey who has lost his way (Psalms 107:4-10). The second is person who finds themselves locked away in a prison (Psalms 107:11-16). The third is a person who suffering from illness (Psalms 107:17-22). And the final image is of a sailor lost in a storm (Psalms 107:23-32). In each case, their problem has been caused by rebellion against God. As a result, they find themselves in a predicament with no way of escape. This causes them to pray, crying out to God to spare them. In each scenario, the result is that God hears and provides a way of escape or deliverance. The response? Praise to God for His lovingkindness and mercy.
In four little stories, the Psalmist reminds his readers of just how bad things were when they were in captivity. They were lost with no way to get home. They were prisoners in a foreign land, as good as behind bars, with no way of escape. They were as good as dead, in need of healing, suffering because of their own sinfulness. And they were like sailors lost in a violent storm, at the mercy of the sea. Yet in every case, God responded in mercy and grace. He delivered them. He led them. He satisfied them. He filled them. He saved them. He brought them out. He broke their bonds apart. He shattered gates of bronze. He healed them. He guided them.
God delivers the needy. But we must reach the point of need. As long as we stubbornly hold onto our pride and independence, refusing to admit our problem and cry out to Him, we remain in our predicament. But as soon as we humble ourselves and pray for His deliverance, He hears and He delivers. "When they are diminished and bowed down through oppression, misery and sorrow … He sets the needy securely on high away from affliction, and makes his families like a flock" (Psalms 107:39-41 NASB).
So what's in this for us? "Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord" (Psalms 107:43 NLT). We will learn from the lives of the Israelites. They rebelled and suffered the consequences. They refused to obey the Lord. They rejected His leadership in their lives and they reaped the results. But as soon as they realized the folly of their ways and recognized their need for God, humbly crying out to Him for His help, He responded. He loves to respond. He loves to deliver. He loves to redeem. He loves to save. He loves to show Himself strong on behalf of His children. But we must cry out before God will reach down. We must recognize our need for Him if we desire to be delivered by Him. We must come to an end of ourselves and our stubborn desire to solve all our own problems. God is in the restoration business.
Father, what a great reminder. You want to restore me. You desire to bless me. But I must reach an end of myself. I must humble myself before You and cry out. I must admit my need for Your help and my own inability to save myself. Forgive me for the many times I stubbornly remain in the middle of my problem just because I refuse to admit that I can't fix it. And all the while You are patiently waiting for me to call out to You for help, to admit my neediness and helplessness. When I reach the end of me, I discover the beginning of Your grace and mercy all over again. Amen