Psalm 107:1-9, 39-43
SS Lesson for 10/17/2021
Devotional Scripture: 2 Cor 1:8-10
A hymn for congregational singing was supposed to be listed in the church bulletin as “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come.” But the word Thankful was misspelled and printed as Thinkful. Most of us are quite familiar with the bulletins we are handed as we enter a Sunday morning service. Typos may seem fewer these days because of computer spell-check features used to prepare bulletins. In the previous era, however, uncorrected typos could make for “interesting” reading! When the minister noticed the error, he was not at all bothered or upset. Instead, he used the mistake to point out that thinking and thanking go hand in hand. A thankful person is “thinkfull”; such an individual is always mindful of the good things God provides daily. Ungrateful people, by contrast, tend to be those who are so caught up in the busyness of life that they do not stop to consider the role that gratitude should play in their lives. The thinking person will follow the admonition of Scripture to “remember the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:18) and to “forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2). Thinking will be followed by thanking. The ancient book of Psalms has much to teach us yet in this regard.
Psalm 107 opens Book V, which consists of chapters 107–150. In its transitional role, Psalm 107 also wraps up a series of longer psalms, namely Psalms 104–106. These highlight the mighty works of God in the world he created (Psalm 104) and on behalf of his people through the centuries (105; 106). The latter includes various circumstances of great need through which the Lord had shown himself able to come to the rescue of those in distress (also 107). Psalms in this group are specific in affirming the greatness of the Lord and the wonders that demonstrate that greatness (examples: 104:1, 24; 105:2, 5; 106:2). A repeated refrain in Psalm 107 serves the same purpose (107:8, 15, 21, 31). None of the psalms in this subgroup are attributed to a specific author. However, evidence within the psalms themselves suggests that they were written following the exiles’ return from Babylon. The earliest possible writing then would be about 538 BC. The saving actions attributed to God in Psalm 107 should be considered in light of the covenant God established with the nation of Israel. That covenant promised what he would do in response both to the people’s obedience and disobedience. Blessings such as agricultural abundance and respect from surrounding nations would follow obedience (Deuteronomy 28:1–14). But curses such as disease, famine, and subjugation by enemies would come if the people abandoned the Lord for other gods (28:15–68).
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses
107:1-3. God should be thanked for His enduring loyal love (cf. v. 43), especially by the redeemed who benefit from it. The psalm may have been written during the Babylonian Exile because of the words in verses 2b-3.
107:4-9. First, He delivered some from wandering in the wilderness. Unable to find their way, hungry... thirsty, and dying, they cried... to the Lord and He led them to safety. So people should praise the Lord because He satisfied with good things (v. 9; cf. 104:28) those who were thirsty and hungry in the wilderness.
107:10-16. Second, the Lord released prisoners from bondage. Those who were chained in dark prisons because they had rebelled against... God.... cried out and were freed from the darkness and chains. The Jewish Targum suggests this refers to King Zedekiah and the nobles of Judah in exile in Babylon. So people should praise the Lord because He delivers from bondage.
107:17-22. Third, the Lord delivered the sick from death. When rebellious sinners were afflicted and near the gates of death (cf. Job. 38:17; Ps. 9:13; Isa. 38:10), they cried out to Him and He restored them, healing them by His word. So people should praise the Lord and sacrifice thank offerings (i.e., praise offerings) because of their restored health.
107:23-32. Fourth, God delivers sailors in trouble at sea. Mariners see His works as He calls up a storm (tempest). Their courage melts, and being at their wits’ end (lit., “all their wisdom was swallowed up”), they call on Him. He calms the storm and delivers them from their danger, guiding them safely to their destination. So people should praise the Lord.... in the assembly.
107:33-38. The Lord has great power over nature. (The past-tense verbs in the niv in these verses may be rendered in the pres. tense.) He can turn a desert into a watered area (v. 33) or conversely He can make a fruitful land become a wasteland (cf. Deut. 29:23). He does this because of the wickedness of the people in the land (cf. Deut. 29:24-28). On the other hand God made the barren land become habitable (a city where they could settle; cf. Ps. 107:4, 7) and fruitful (vv. 35-38). This He did for the benefit of the poor and needy, so that their numbers greatly flourished.
107:39-43. The Lord also has power over people’s experiences. He humbles and brings down the proud, but He lifts up the poor and needy. So the redeemed praise the Lord (the upright see and rejoice) but... the wicked are silenced. A wise person will consider these meditations carefully, noting the Lord’s great love (ḥesed̠; cf. vv. 1, 8, 15, 21, 31).
1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
3 And gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
4 They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; they found no city to dwell in.
5 Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.
16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
3 The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, "I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
20 Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God."
33 "Therefore this is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria: "He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it. 34 By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city," declares the Lord. 35 "I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!" 36 Then the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning — there were all the dead bodies! 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.
20 But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him."
5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever. 6 Endless ruin has overtaken the enemy, you have uprooted their cities; even the memory of them has perished. 7 The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment.
30 "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.
31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
16 John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.
16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
47 Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality,
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses.
7 And He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city for a dwelling place.
8 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
9 For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry;
24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.
7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.
12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
5 How great are your works, O Lord, how profound your thoughts!
7 proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds.
3 Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.
3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever.
39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, affliction and sorrow,
40 He pours contempt on princes, and causes them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way;
41 Yet He sets the poor on high, far from affliction, and makes their families like a flock.
42 The righteous see it and rejoice, and all iniquity stops its mouth.
43 Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.
6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?"
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
15 For this is what the high and lofty One says — he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.
63 Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"
8 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. "For the foundations of the earth are the Lord's; upon them he has set the world.
11 The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
7 Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.
6 God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
4 You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall
5 Then he said to me, "Son of man, look toward the north." So I looked, and in the entrance north of the gate of the altar I saw this idol of jealousy.
8 The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.
1 A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.
20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.
45 "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.
1. A call to thanksgiving and testimony 107:1-3
God’s people should thank Him because He is good and His loyal love endures forever. Those whom He has redeemed should be especially grateful for His liberating work for them and should publicly testify to His salvation. In view of Psalms 107:3, this psalm may date from the postexilic period of Israel’s history (cf. Psalms 107:10-16).
An unknown writer sought to motivate the Lord’s redeemed people to praise Him by reviewing some of His mighty acts.
It is not possible to identify the specific occasion, during the wilderness wanderings, that the writer referred to here. The people were hungry and thirsty and cried out to Yahweh in their distress (cf. Matthew 14:13-21; Matthew 15:32-39). He delivered them and led them on safely to their destination. Consequently, His people should thank Him for His loyal love and for His wonder-inspiring works for them. Yahweh provided the basic necessities of life for His people.
2. Specific instances of deliverance 107:4-32
The writer cited four times when the Israelites cried out to God for deliverance and He saved them (Psalms 107:6; Psalms 107:13; Psalms 107:19; Psalms 107:28; cf. Judges 2:18; Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13). These situations were answers to the prayer Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple (cf. 1 Kings 8:46-53). At the end of each section, the psalmist reminded the redeemed to thank God with the same refrain (Psalms 107:8; Psalms 107:15; Psalms 107:21; Psalms 107:31). The Gospels record Jesus producing the same kinds of deliverance during His earthly ministry.
Second, the Lord delivered his captive people when they cried out to Him (cf. Matthew 8:28-34; Luke 1:79; Luke 4:18-19). God had set them free. He provided freedom for those held in captivity because of their sins. This is another clue that this psalm dates from after the Babylonian captivity. Perhaps this stanza inspired Charles Wesley to write "And Can It Be That I Should Gain?"
"Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee."
Third, when God’s people were sick because of their sins and they cried out to Him, He restored them to health (cf. Matthew 9:1-8). The reference to God’s Word having a part in their healing (Psalms 107:20) shows that spiritual nourishment plays a vital part in physical restoration (cf. Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4; James 5:14-16). Such salvation should move God’s people to make sacrifices to express their gratitude and to tell other people about the Lord’s goodness.
Fourth, God delivered sailors when they cried out to Him in storms. He calmed the seas and brought them safely to their ports (cf. Matthew 8:23-27; Luke 8:22-25). This, too, demands public praise from those who were rescued.
"The thank offering of the Psalms appears to be one pledged by the worshiper during or after some zero hour of his life. On the basis of Psalms 107 the rabbis spoke of four occasions when the thank offering was appropriate: safe return from a voyage (Psalms 107:23-32), safe return from a desert journey (Psalms 107:4-9), recovery from illness (Psalms 107:17-22), and release from prison (Psalms 107:10-16)." [Note: Ibid., p. 154. See also Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16, p. 219.]
God controls nature so that it becomes His instrument of cursing or blessing His people. The repetition of the phrase "an inhabited city" (Psalms 107:36, cf. Psalms 107:4; Psalms 107:7) is a unique feature of this psalm. It may refer to the captives returning to Jerusalem-their long anticipated destination-in the three returns from Babylon that the Old Testament records.
3. The providence of God 107:33-43
The following verses contain a second major reason for praising God, namely: His providential governing of the world.
The Lord also controls the experiences of people. He humbles the proud, but He also exalts the humble. The godly observe this and rejoice, but the unrighteous keep silent. A wise person will reflect on these matters and meditate on God’s loyal love (hesed).
"The conclusion to this psalm transforms the hymn of thanksgiving and praise to a wisdom psalm." [Note: VanGemeren, p. 688.]
This whole psalm exalts the loyal love of God (Psalms 107:1; Psalms 107:8; Psalms 107:15; Psalms 107:21; Psalms 107:31). It teaches God’s people to observe God’s loyalty to them when He saves them after they call on Him. He does this providentially by controlling the forces of nature and by arranging the circumstances of their lives. The proper godly response to this grace is to give thanks to Him and to tell others about His wonderful works.
(Adapted from URL:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-107.html)
God’s consistently loving deeds and provision of care for those who faithfully honor and serve him must not be overlooked. Jesus spoke of blessings provided for those who seek first “[God’s] kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). That must be tempered, however, by the awareness that even in times when such provisions are lacking, God’s presence and grace have not been denied to the faithful. This too is consistently taught in Scripture (examples: 2 Corinthians 9:10–11; 12:7–10; Philippians 4:15–19). God can and does still bring to pass the reversals found within this psalm, such as providing relief for the hungry (Psalm 107:9) and delivering the poor from their poverty (107:41). These are times to celebrate! But gratitude to God is always meant to be part of our spiritual demeanor (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It is not to hinge on whether material needs (or wants!) are supplied. The physical side of life does indeed matter, but it is not the only dimension of reality. Paul expressed the tension clearly: “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16; compare Philippians 2:7–11). For Christians, there is always the most important reason for giving thanks: our redemption in Jesus (Colossians 1:12–14; 1 Peter 1:3–5). Hope in our future resurrection gives us reason both to celebrate the work Jesus did on the cross and the work the Spirit continues to do in our lives, preparing us for an eternity of praise to God.
A Psalm of Thanksgiving - An unknown author possibly wrote Psalm 107 after Judah's captivity in Babylon. Psalm 107 records their release and the people's thanksgiving pouring forth. God rescued and allowed the restoration of His congregation and the city of Jerusalem. The first plea in the psalm is for the readers to express gratitude for His loving kindness. God's mercy means He shows abundant generosity unnecessarily. The heavenly Father passionately chose to involve Himself in human affairs. He is under no obligation. It displays His kindness and love—both without an end.
Our Redeemer - The psalmist called the people to identify themselves as redeemed. If any person had been sold as a slave, whether taken captive or in a difficult situation, a kinsman rescued that person. A blood relative possessed the right to purchase the one in bondage. The redeemer then placed the individual back into the family with restored rights and privileges. Several times the Bible outlines an occasion in which God is our kinsman redeemer. He snatches His precious possessions from the enemy's hands.
God's Discipline - Judah ended up in captivity in Babylon because of the people's disobedience. They insisted on rebelling against the Lord after He repeatedly sent warnings through His prophets. The Lord disciplined His children using evil, idol-loving Babylon to take them into captivity. He took those who were in line to be royalty and leaders in Judah and placed them in Babylon, where they became slaves. After 70 years, God empowered another pagan government, the Persians, to overtake the Babylonians. The Persians sent the exiles back to their native countries. God opened the door for the Jews to return to Jerusalem. God's disciplinary measures are intended to cleanse, restore, and return His people exclusively back to Him, never to destroy a person. Studying these pictures of God's mercy to an undeserving people should make our hearts overflow with gratitude.