“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble
And gathered in from the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south” (Psalm 107:1-3, ESV).
The Israelites return to their homeland after years confined in Babylonian captivity. A frustrating battle began as they rebuilt their city and the temple, yet sometime after their return Psalm 107 was written, reminding us of both God’s goodness and his governance.
They’d been through a lot. Taken from their homes, living as captives in Babylon, among new people, a foreign cultural with its religious ways; stripped of hope and dignity. Yet, they could respond to the Lord with thanksgiving for all the wonderful things he has done.
Though the valleys in life can be lonely, frightening places and the journey through our chaos and suffering may be long, we are invited to reflect on all the Lord has done in our lives and praise his steadfast love.
If we don’t feel it, step by step, we can recount his goodness through the psalm.
How has God shown his goodness?
Leading the Lost
“Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them” (Ps 107:4-5).
When you’re lost, whether it’s in a big city or the forest, you’re intently looking for something familiar, a visible landmark telling you when you’re back on track, but once the fatigue of hunger sets in, exhaustion overwhelms and your eyes begin telling stories which diminish any hope you had of finding your way.
A significant piece of Israel’s journey was the exodus out of Egypt as God led them through the wilderness. Even though their steps took them through unchartered wastelands and deserts, there was a constant presence before them, in a fire or a cloud, showing them the way.
Though we were lost in our sin scripture tells us, “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). We may be led through the valley of the shadow of death, weary, afraid, and overwhelmed, but the Lord never leaves us or abandon us; instead, he satisfies us. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
In his goodness, God has led us when we were lost and satisfied us with redemption through Jesus.
Freeing the Prisoner
“Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High” (Ps 107:10-11).
The truth is we are rebellious people, our hearts are deceitful and inclined toward sin. Jesus reminds us “everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34) and we are stuck in a prison of our own making, following the temptations of the flesh, the world and the devil.
Yet, God came to rescue us from our rebellion, by his grace and mercy, turning our hearts toward him. He has burst our bonds apart (Ps 107:14) and given us liberty to walk in his righteousness. It was while we were still sinners that Christ came for us, what an amazing gift!
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1).
In his goodness he has freed us from our chains and given us freedom.
Healing the Sick
“Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death” (Ps 107:17-18).
After beginning with a very good creation in the garden of Eden, sin entered with a sentence of death. Like adding salt instead of sugar to a cup of coffee, what was meant to be good was transformed with distaste. We see the effects as our bodies develop illness and don’t function as they are intended.
Yet God didn’t leave us in our state of sickness, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:24). While we’ve chosen sin, he made a way for our healing and restoration, even if it’s not physically right now, one day it will be! He “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body”(Phil 3:21). This is the Christian’s enduring hope and confidence.
In his goodness, he heals our sickness and delivers us through his sacrifice.
Calming the Storm
“Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea” (Ps 107:23-25).
Sailors witness the wonder and beauty of creation in the great expanse of the waters. Yet, when the storm comes, the strength and might of God is staggering.
Even though we have seen the work of the Lord around us, disorientation overtakes us when our world is thrown into chaos. Crashing waves, pelts of thunder and strong winds test the security of our foundation. This has been a stormy year in its vast changes.
But I’m reminded of my small, thin tomato plants. Before planting them outdoors, they need to be exposed little by little to the elements, particularly wind, in order for their stalk to strengthen that they will survive in the garden. We need these times of chaos in our lives in order to develop resilience, to grow our endurance and solidify our hope. For “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Pet 5:10).
In his goodness, he calms our storms and brings us to a place of rest.
The answer and our response
In all his goodness, perhaps the sweetest part is for every moment of wandering, rebellion, sickness and chaos,
“they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress”
(Ps 107:6, 13, 19, 28).
He is never far from us. We are known fully and completely by our Creator; in all our sin and all our sorrows. As we love and follow him, may our response to the wonderful gospel be,
“Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!”
(Ps 107:8,15, 21, 31).