Summary: We must share the good news: His mercy DOES endure forever!
A CALL TO GIVE THANKS
This Psalm is a celebration of the wonderful works of God. The situations referred to in each of its word pictures could no doubt be attached to some specific event in the history of God’s people. However, they are common experiences, and relevant for each of us, and all of us collectively, in all generations.
Psalm 107:1 is a familiar verse: if not from church liturgies, then from the other times when the same words appear in the book of Psalms. Psalm 106:1 is a case in point. So, yes, let us “Give thanks to the LORD for He is good: for His mercy endures forever”!
The tales of weal and woe which this Psalm reflects leave us with one enduring fact. Whether our woe, or our well-being, is deserved or undeserved: the fact remains that “the LORD is good” (Psalm 107:1). And, yes, ‘All things’ DO ‘work together for good, to those who love the Lord’ (Romans 8:28).
In Psalm 106:47, the writer appealed to the LORD for his people to be gathered from among the heathen. The answer comes in Psalm 107:3, where they are “gathered” from the four points of the compass. Just like the church.
And, like the church, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so” (Psalm 107:2). God’s wonderful works reach their zenith in the resurrection of Jesus, and our redemption through Him. Testimony is so important in the witness of the church: ‘I once was lost, but now am found’.
As we come to our chosen word picture (Psalm 107:17-22), one strong contender for its Old Testament background is Numbers 21:4-9. There the complaint of the people of Israel was, ‘no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread’ (Numbers 21:5). What an attitude to God’s gracious and miraculous provision!
The indictment against such “fools” (Psalm 107:17), is that “their soul abhorred all manner of food” (Psalm 107:18). The response of the LORD to “their transgression, and to their iniquities” is to send “affliction” (Psalm 107:17), causing them to “draw near to the gates of death” (Psalm 107:18). In the example we have cited, this took the form of a plague of fiery serpents, which ‘bit the people and caused many of the people of Israel to die’ (Numbers 21:6).
But then the people asked Moses to pray for them (Numbers 21:7). This could correspond to their “cry unto the LORD in their trouble” (Psalm 107:19). Not only did the LORD come up with a scheme to relieve their present distress (the serpent on a pole - Numbers 21:8-9), but also a picture of a much grander scheme, for a more universal salvation, with Christ on the Cross at its centre (cf. John 3:14-17).
Not all afflictions come as a direct result of some specific sin - but some do. Whichever way, when we are afflicted, the only one way to turn is to God Himself, through the Lord Jesus Christ. “Then He saved them from their distresses. He sent His word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions” (Psalm 107:19-20). ‘And so, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived’ (Numbers 21:9).
We conclude our little picture with a call to those who have been thus redeemed, by the blood of the Lamb (1 Peter 1:18-19), to “praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men (literally, children of Adam)” (Psalm 107:21). This is something of a refrain throughout this Psalm.
“And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving and tell of His deeds with songs of joy” (Psalm 107:22). Telling of his deeds is a joy, but sometimes our telling of our testimony is sacrificial. However, we must share the good news: “His mercy” DOES “endure forever” (Psalm 107:1).