How often do you pray? Do you find yourself praying more when you are in need or when things are going well?
If we want a vital relationship with our Lord, prayer must be a part of our lives. Paul admonished the Thessalonian Christians to "pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Reading through Psalm 107 we can see the Psalmist believed we should pray no matter what circumstances we are facing.
Psalm 107 is the first Psalm in the final "book" of the Psalms. Most scholars believe this particular Psalm was written while the people were in exile in Babylon. Two phrases are repeated throughout the Psalm:
"Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress." (verses 6,13, 19, and 28)
"Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind." (verses 8, 15, 21, and 31)
As an introduction, verses 1-3 call the people to offer thanks to God for His enduring love. They call us to tell the story of our redemption. We are to tell our individual stories in order to give God glory and to encourage others in their walk with the Lord. Sharing how God has worked in our lives gives hope to those who are going through similar circumstances. After delivering the demon-possessed man from the legion of demons which had tormented him for some time, Jesus told him:
"'Return home and tell how much God has done for you.' So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him." Luke 8:39
The man wanted to go with Jesus but Jesus needed him to stay where he was and tell those around him what God had done in his life. When we joyfully tell of all God has done for us others are drawn to Him. Giving thanks to God for HIs redeeming work in our lives gives us an avenue to testify of His greatness.
We can be thankful God works in our lives redeeming us, not only from sin but also to testify of His great power.
In this Psalm, each of the repeated phrases indicates a situation in which God has offered redemption. Verses 4-9 show how God rescued the people from captivity and brought them safely back to their own land. In his rescuing He redeemed them. It was the people's own disobedience which caused them to be taken captive. When they could no longer stand the harsh conditions of captivity they cried out to God and He delivered them.
God does the same for us. How many times has your own disobedience to God gotten you into a situation which caused you distress? How many times have you had to cry out to God for deliverance from something your disobedience caused? The answer to those questions for me is: Far too often!! How could we not offer God our thanks when He so willingly rescues us time and time again?!
Verses 10-16 recount how God rescued the people from the darkness of prison. Anyone who has not asked Jesus to be their Savior is in the dark prison of sin. They are held captive in the iron chains of the enemy and cannot free themselves. Jesus is the only one who is able to break the chains and lead us from the darkness of sin into the light of forgiveness. Paul said in Colossians:
"He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son who purchased our freedom and forgave our sin." Colossians 1:13-14
We can be thankful our God hears our cries for redemption and answers us with Jesus!
Verses 17-22 describe someone who is in physical anguish because of their own poor choices. While we may not all suffer physically, we do all suffer in our spiritual lives. When sin is prevalent in our lives we are in need of God's healing touch, Again in the book of Colossians:
"You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins." Colossians 2:13
We can be thankful our God forgives our sin and makes us alive in Christ Jesus.
Can you imagine being in a storm far out at sea? Some of you may have experienced this. I have not but I imagine I would be terrified. Verses 23-32 describe this scene. The people were in a storm where they saw no hope of survival. While we may not be at sea in a physical storm, many of us are in spiritual storms. We are in places of little hope, places we desperately want deliverance from. God is the only one who is able to calm these storms and bring us to shore.
In Luke 8:22-25 we find the story of Jesus calming the storm. He has told the disciples to set out for the other side of the lake which they do. Jesus slips away to the back of the boat for a little nap. Suddenly a storm comes up and the disciples are afraid. They cry out to Jesus who wakes up, speaks to the winds and the waves, and causes the storm to stop. When we are in the middle of a storm it may seem Jesus has fallen asleep and left us there to drown. But all we need do is cry out to Him in surrender and He will be there to calm the winds and the waves. Though the storm may not stop we can know our God is with us. The storm is calmed to a whisper when we focus our eyes on Him. The waves within us are stilled when we keep our minds on thoughts of our Savior.
We can be thankful our God stays with us even in our hopelessness.
The final verse of Psalm 107 describe the redemptive work of God. He changes deserts into rivers. He causes crops to be plentiful. He increases families. This also describes what God does in us spiritually when we accept Christ as Savior. Where our souls have been parched, dried, and shriveled, Jesus brings the living water of His salvation. Where we have had no growth, the Spirit brings forth fruit. Where we have not belonged, God accepts us and calls us His.
We can be thankful our God is an agent of change.
This Psalm ends in much the same way it began:
"Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord." Psalm 107:43
We must learn to reflect on the things God has done for us and gladly tell others about His redemptive power.
Gathered manna for Psalm 107 is:
When we cry out to God He restores us, revives us, and redeems us.
When was the last time you shared what Jesus has done for you with someone? How can sharing our spiritual journey with others bring God glory? Where is sin still present in your life? What will you do to rid yourself of that sin? Where do you feel hopeless? How will you allow God to bring hope to your situation?
Praying we all learn to cry out to our God and give Him thanks for all He does to restore, revive, and redeem us.
Until next time keep gathering manna, growing deeper, and gaining intimacy!
May God bless and keep you,