September 7th – Les Kovacs Psalm 107
Observe: Psalm 107 celebrates God’s steadfast love for His people. It’s a divine love that endures despite their waywardness, and through which God redeems HIs people.
Verse 1 opens with “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”, and is followed by an invitation for the redeemed to tell the story of how the Lord rescued them from their troubles.
Verses 4-9 lists the lost who wandered the deserts hungry and thirsty, whom the Lord leads to the city via the straight way where He feeds the hungry and satisfies the thirsty.
Verses 10-16 lists the prisoners who sat in darkness because they rebelled against God’s commands, and so they are forced into hard labour and stumble in the dark. God led them out of their darkness and broke the chains that bound them in despair.
Verses 17-22 lists the fools who suffered afflictions because of their rebellious iniquities. God led them out of their distress and healed them with His word.
Verses 23-32 list the victims who suffered and were lost through the actions of others, and they were unable to save themselves. For these people, God clamed the storm and guided them to safe harbour.
In each of these groupings of verses, it is after they people call out to Him for help that God rescues them from their calamities, and the psalmist calls on the people to “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,”
Then, verses 33-38 describe the power and the mercy of God. Because of the people’s wickedness, He turned the rivers into deserts a as He turns deserts and fruitful land into a salt waste. Yet because of His mercy, He turns the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing spring. In these paces the people settled and flourished because of the Lord’s blessings.
Verses 39-42 compares the contempt that God has for unjust rulers, as He humbles them with wandering in a trackless waste, the mercy He has on needy helping them in their afflictions.
It ends with verse 43 warning the wise to heed these things and remember the loving blessings that the Lord can provide.
Interpret: Although this psalm celebrates the steadfast love of the God for His people, and the mercy He faithfully pours out on them, it seems to follow a familiar historical pattern:
Application: The people described in this psalm, and the patterns of their lives, represents all of us to some degree. At various times in our lives, we all fall into one of the categories of sinners listed in the psalm. Sometimes we are the lost, wandering around trying to figure out life on our own, and it feels like whenever opportunity knocks, we’re at the grocery store getting milk. Sometimes we are the rebels because it feels like the easiest way to get out of sticky situation. We tell a little white lie because it’s expedient, and in the end we find that it only made things worse. Sometimes we are the fools, which is probably the easiest to relate to but perhaps the hardest to accept in ourselves. Maybe we ate too much, drank too much, spent too much, and wonder why we have health or financial issues. Perhaps we chased after some unrealistic goal at work and sacrificed our relationships, or even our sanity, and wonder why we feel so much stress. Sometimes we are the victims of the actions of other people. The world is full of evil, and bad things do happen to good people. Drunk drivers. Cheating partners. Online predators. You may wonder why these things are allowed to happen.
For all the trouble we human beings get into, whether of our own making or not, God knows that love is the most important and most powerful force in the world. His love is the most powerful of all, and He wants us to experience it. But to truly experience His deep and genuine love, we had to be given the true freedom to choose it. Through our faith in Him, built from our knowledge and understanding of Him in Scripture, God wants us to deliberately choose it. Genuine love cannot be forced on us, and it cannot be built into our lives so that it simply is. God gave us the choice to love or not to love. He gave us the choice to do evil as well as to do good. The way in which we respond to the circumstances of our life, and the relationships we have with each other, is reflective of our decision to choose and display love in all its splendid variety. When we choose love, we are no longer lost rebels acting like foolish victims - we are Children of God.
The ultimate proof of God’s love for us is the sacrifice He made through Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. This is His gift to us. All we need to do is choose it.
Prayer: Father God, we pray that in all the circumstances of our life, your Holy Spirit working in us would help us to choose love, which you so freely have given us our of your great mercy. In the Holy name of Jesus, Amen.
Song: Awesome God – Rich Mullins
Observe This “remembrance” Psalm recounts the story of Israel from Moses and the entry into the Promised Land, focusing on Israel's past failures, forgetfulness and ingratitude, the need for repentance and His forgiveness.
The Psalm begins with a call to praise (1), followed by a beatitude: Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right (3). Verses 6-46 recall Israel’s failures and God’s forgiveness – effectively a prayer of confession. Israel’s rebelliousness is presented in 9 episodes, from the Exodus to Judges: their disobedience, their idolatries, their stubbornness, with the consequence of the Exile (24 and 27).
Finally comes a prayer for salvation (47), and a closing word of praise echoes verse 1 (48).
Interpret Psalm 106 spotlights Israel’s chronic disobedience and rebellion, in contrast to God’s unending mercy and forgiveness, His covenant loyalty to His “chosen”.
The psalm is anonymous, though some scholars think the same person wrote Psalm 105 (focused on God’s powerful miracles and victory) and 106, each presenting different aspects of the story of Israel. Like Psalms 78, 105, 135, and 136, Psalm 106 is a historical Psalm. The last verse, 48, signals the end of Book 4 of Psalms which emphasized Moses’ calling in Israel's story.
Apply We don’t like to think about sin, especially our own, but Psalm 106 holds a mirror up to us if we dare to look.
There’s a telling quote from Charles Spurgeon: “Too many think lightly of sin, and therefore think lightly of the Saviour.” If we think about this quote and reread the Psalm, noting how little the Israelites thought of Yahweh while manufacturing idols and complaining about God’s menu choices. Even Moses had a great fall when he struck the rock twice, not trusting Yahweh to provide.
And maybe that’s our problem. Do we think too lightly of Jesus’ sacrifice, our relationship with Him Who gave up everything so we could ‘always do what is right’, out of love for Him? Yielding our lives to Him so we stay on His narrow but excellent road just might transform us into those ‘who always do what is right’.
We can’t be constantly flailing ourselves, but we need to look both within and up, to compare what outside pressures are telling us with what God is asking of us and constantly giving us – mercy, forgiveness, love, grace. The exchange is pretty unbalanced in His favour, but we can only be thankful for that. As Tim Keller points out, ”Despite (no, because of) God’s wonderful patience and mercy, we are always obligated to do right.”
Ask Lord, would you help me to get back onto Your narrow way, to keep my mind and heart on You? Will You send Your Spirit so I always do what is right?
Pray Lord, thank You for shielding me from the many consequences of my foolish behaviour and carelessness in following You. Let Your grace so transform, that I will always choose to do what is right.
Sing Psalm 106 Poor Bishop Hooper
Kiran Young Wimberly and the McGraths - Banks of the Nile
The Corner Room - Psalm 106:1
Observation and Interpretation: It is interesting to note that the first 15 verses of Psalm 105 are also echoed in I Chronicles 16:8-22. Although there are a few word changes, I challenge you to compare the two.
The first few verses call us to worship the Lord, seek Him and remember His great works (4-6). God’s care and protection under the patriarchs, first with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob show that even few in number, God promised to protect them (verses 13-15). Then came famine and God provided more care in the form of Joseph (verses 16-22). God continued to preserve Israel in Egypt through Jacob and his family moving there. However, because they “increased greatly”, they soon became stronger than the people of Egypt, so the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites (verses 23-25). Over 400 years in slavery and then…Salvation! Moses (the champion of God) rose up and through God sent 10 plagues into the land of Egypt. Do you know what they are? Do you remember from Sunday School? If not, here’s a brief summary…blood, frogs, bugs (lice and gnats), wild animals (or flies), pestilence of livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and death of the first born (verses 26-36). I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would have wanted to live through all of that and not ask “Why?” Do you think there were some Egyptians that might have asked Moses what they could do to prevent all this? Interesting thing to ponder….
More salvation! God delivered them from their oppressors (verses 37-41) and provided them with all they would need. He sent them a cloud by day and fire at night to protect them. He gave them meat, manna and water when He opened the rock. Finally He brought Israel into the land of Canaan as He promised (verses 42-45) and gave them all He promised. Much praise to the Lord!
However, in Psalm 106 after this psalm of praise, it speaks of the sad story of rebellion on the part of His people (read Lynne McCarthy’s insights on this psalm).
Application: Let’s focus on verse 4…”Seek the Lord”. What does it mean to seek? It means living intentionally with reliance on Christ. Do we do this daily? My husband David often calls me a “control aficionado”. That is not a compliment, but I must agree with him. As the “matriarch” of the family, for 43 years I felt that it has been my role to make sure that everyone in my family is safe, secure and happy. As my physical abilities are more and more hampered, I must rely on my family to help me with certain tasks. So it is with our relationship with God. Are we pushing Him aside and trying to do things on our own, or are we relying (seeking) on Him to do the best for our lives?
Prayer: Lord, help me to remember all the promises that you have given us in Your Word and help us to seek Your face, not just for today, but for all our lives. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Song: Proclaim the Glory of the Lord (Steve Green)
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.