Psalm 107 – Give Thanks To God, And Be Humble
Psalm 107:1-43 NIV
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story – those He redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those He gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.
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.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains, because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High. So He subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.
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. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He sent out His word and healed them; He rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of His works with songs of joy.
Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters. They saw the works of the Lord, His wonderful deeds in the deep. For He spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them exalt Him in the assembly of the people and praise Him in the council of the elders.
He turned rivers into a desert, flowing springs into thirsty ground, and fruitful land into a salt waste, because of the wickedness of those who lived there. He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs; there He brought the hungry to live, and they founded a city where they could settle. They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest; He blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased, and He did not let their herds diminish.
Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled by oppression, calamity and sorrow; He who pours contempt on nobles made them wander in a trackless waste. But He lifted the needy out of their affliction and increased their families like flocks. The upright see and rejoice, but all the wicked shut their mouths.
Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.
This is the first psalm of Book V of Psalm. The Psalmist called out to those who have been redeemed, including us Christians today, to thank God and remember that He is almighty. He can raise us up if we are humble but He will humble us if we are proud. The Psalmist told four different stories in this psalm and we should be able to find ourselves in one of them!
We give thanks to God if we appreciate that God is good. When we understand that we are undeservedly redeemed, our gratitude towards God’s mercy leads us to give thanks for our salvation.
“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story”. The psalm calls out to those who have been redeemed to continue to thank God (or we may go back to rebellious ways). We can easily forget that God has been amazing to us. Thus the Psalmist was inspired to remind us where we had come from and how God had answered our cries. I am one who needs to be constantly reminded that God has been good to me, I must not fall back to my old self.
The first story of this psalm is about some who “wandered in desert wastelands” and fail to find a place to settle. Their hunger and thirst led them to cry out to the Lord, and the Lord saved them.
It is not only our physical hunger or thirst that matter, our emotional and spiritual hunger are important too. We can be assured that God will come and rescue us if we cry out to Him. God is faithful and we should praise Him for that. In our life journey, we will go through moments when we wander away from God and pursue other things, but remember that God is always here for us and we can turn back to Him.
The second story is about some who “sat in darkness... suffering in iron chains, because they rebelled against God’s commands”. Being a Christian does not mean we won’t fall into sins anymore. When we sin, we are rebelling against God’s commands because we know His words. That’s despising the counsel of the Most High by ignoring the Holy Spirit. We’re actually going against God’s desire for us to be holy.
Some may become despondent when they feel hopelessly chained in sin and think they have reached the point of no return. God does not leave them alone but “subjected them to bitter labor”. This is sometimes necessary to humble us, to see that there is not one else who can save us. “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress.”
This was the reason why Jesus died on the cross for us. Jesus still “breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron” to save us. We can be assured that when we cry out to God, He will save us. Satan will lie that there is no point in returning to God since He no longer loves us because of our sins. This is not true. God is righteous and faithful, He will hear us when we cry out to Him.
The third story is about some who were foolish enough to rebel against God and “suffered affliction because of their iniquities”. We are fools if ignore God’s words (“loathed all foods”) and bring ourselves “near the gates of death.”
This group is slightly different from the previous group. The previous group sat in darkness because of their sins, while this group rebelliously hate the word of God, which is folly in the first place. This may describe many of us, who consciously ignore the words of the Holy Spirit and defy His counsel.
Again, when we cry out to the Lord, He will send His word to us and heal us. That is why we should keep working on our quiet times, studying the Bible intently because the Word was provided to guide us to God. Haven’t we ignored the lingering calls in our hearts to read our Bible? God will remind us of His words through the Holy Spirit, we need to listen carefully and act on them.
The last story is about some who “went out on the sea in ships”; they were successful merchants. “They saw the works of the Lord, His wonderful deeds in the deep.” But how did they see God’s wonders? They saw it because God “stirred up a tempest” against them. The storm tossed them about wildly, and “in their peril, their courage melted away.” And it was only when they were “at their wits end” that they “cried out to the Lord in their trouble”. God delivered them from their distress.
Do we get proud because of our success in business, at work, in school, or in other areas of our lives? Do these stop us from seeing the wonders of God? God is willing to put us through storms and bring us down to our lowest, if that is required for us to turn to Him. God still “guided them to their desired haven”, He was not opposed to their desire for success. He is not opposed to our pursuit of success either. He just doesn’t want us to be puffed up by our success and forget about our need for Him.
God can still the storm, turn rivers into desert, turn desert into pools of water, and more. Everything is within His control. The proud will be humbled and the humble will be exalted. The key point is in the last verse, “Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.”
We have freedom to choose whether to be upright or sinful. The upright will rejoice but the wicked will be silenced. Do not forget we can cry out to God in our trouble, and God will rescue us.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit. Andy joined the Central Christian Church in 1990.