(Today’s post by Wayne Bunting)
Today we venture back into the Psalms by reading Psalm 107. Sometimes when you read a Psalm it seems to paint a picture that is hard to understand. Many times this is because Psalms sometimes refer to specific historical events that have taken place in the course of God’s people, specifically in the history of Israel.
Many maintain that Psalm 107 was written to detail the return of God’s people back to the promised land from exile in Babylon, and that this Psalm may have very well been designed to be read at the rededication of the new temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 6:16). The beginning phrase of this Psalm (“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever”) is almost identical to Jeremiah 33:11.
Verses 8, 15, 21, and 31 all repeat the same phrase: “Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!” These repeated phrases separate this Psalm into four sections which all seem to describe a situation involving a people who become overwhelmed by an unsolvable problem. The people then cry out to God for deliverance, God answers, and the people respond with praise to God for what He has done for them, hence the repetition of this same phrase.
A theme that runs through all four of these examples is that those who decide to trust in the Lord must abandon all of their own self-sufficiency and rely on the Lord with all of their heart. Man’s worst direction in life is his own way. Man’s best direction is God’s way. The two are absolutely opposed to one another, and the one who seeks to follow God must abandon himself in order to follow God. Proverbs 9:10 states that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Job found out through all of his suffering that once he decided to fear God the Lord showed up and Job subsequently understood that God was God and he was not, and that his suffering had purpose in God’s plan. In order to understand and to know God we must fear Him.
I see a lot of people in the church today who seem to be obsessed with tearing down the fear of the Lord. They would rather push their own way, desire, morality, and (worst of all) truth instead of submitting wholeheartedly to God and fearing Him. The truth of the matter is that following God is not an easy path to go down. That’s why Jesus calls it the straight and narrow (Matthew 7:13). But if we truly see God and seek His face then we will be overcome by who He is. This is what knowing Him is all about. He is Holy and in His presence anything that is not Him must fall away. We can choose to shun ourselves and sin and know God, or we can choose ourselves and sin and lose our sight of God.
This is what I think is happening in much of the church today. People want their ears tickled (2 Timothy 4:3) because it suits their own purposes more than it suits God’s purposes. So many people do not cry out to God like the people in this Psalm. They instead conform truth to their own means. But those who want to live a life for God must rely fully on the Lord and not on themselves. Giving up ourselves is hard to do. In fact it is absolutely contrary to what comes naturally to us. But God is worth it, and knowing Him is worth more than anything the world can give. At the end of Psalm 107, in verse 43, the author states: “Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.” “These things” refers to the four examples of the people crying out to God and God meeting them. So again, wisdom is seeking God and fearing Him. A life full of self and void of God is a life lost. A life stripped of self and full of God is a life gained.
In the midst of a culture that seems to assert that the highest good that a person can achieve is to live for their own desires and ways, we in the church should seek to give up ourselves so that Christ can live more fully in us, and so that we can show the light of God’s way to a world that is dying in sin and is in the bondage of darkness.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed..give up by surrendering to God.