Monday, September 10, 2012

Psalm 107: A Meditation in Our Redemption

Reading: Psalm 107  
The Bible is the story of redemption; Psalm 107 is a snap shot of that story. This psalm begins by calling us to do something.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2Let the redeemed of the LORD say this—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, 3those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south. (Psalm 107:1-3)
Psalm 107 is about God and it is about us; it calls us to respond to the loving, saving acts of God Who has redeemed us and brought us together as His people. It begins calling us to give thanks to the Lord, proclaim that He has redeemed us and gathered us from the ends of the world. It ends calling us to pay attention to the ways of God in redemption and how He saved us, and to ponder the Lord's acts of faithful love (Psalm 107:43). In the middle, is a description of how God in His mercy went about saving us, the redeemed, in our rebellion (Psalm 107:4-42).
Each of these redemption stories begins with a description of humanity as we are prior to the redeeming work of God. It describes the condition we are in when the Lord sets out to save us by His loving deeds. These groups of people represent each of us who have been gathered from the four corners of the earth (north, south, east, and west). Which one describes your story:
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.” (Psalm 107:4-9) “Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High.” (Psalm 107:10-16) “Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death.” (Psalm 107:17-22)“Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.” (Psalm 107:23-32).
You have those who are lost and lonely; those who are in deep darkness and gloom, bound and captive; those who are living lives of folly and blatant rebellion; and those who are prospering in this life and making their mark on it. Which were you?
Psalm 107:33-38 gives an overview description of the common pattern God uses in redeeming each of these four people groups.  Verse 33-34 tell us how it starts:
He turned rivers into a desert, flowing springs into thirsty ground, 34and fruitful land into a salt waste, because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
As long as we think we can make it on our own we continue living lives independent of Him in our rebellion. Only when we realize that we are dependent upon God for even the river and spring that bring us water, and the ground that causes plants to be fruitful—for life itself—that we consider the hopelessness of our lost estate. So the Lord allows us to have life without Him (in part) as the waters dry up and we discover how dependent we are. We plant seeds and think we are producing crops; the Lord reminds us that He is the One Who does the producing.
Verses 35-38 describe what He does when we turn to Him, crying out to Him (Psalm 107:6, 13, 19, 28) in our desperation.
35He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs; 36there he brought the hungry to live, and they founded a city where they could settle. 37They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest; 38he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased, and he did not let their herds diminish.
(Verses 39-42 restate this pattern using less poetic language.)
The redeemed are those God has gathered from every part of the world and every walk of life. He has not left us alone but placed us together with all those He has gathered into a church, a local gathering of the redeemed. Together we are to give thanks for His goodness; together we are to proclaim He has redeemed us from the hand of the foe, and gathered us from the four corners of the earth, and the “four corners” of life situations; together we are to ponder the glorious goodness of God's faithful love.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,