Summary: From a trackless wilderness to a City to dwell in.
A CITY OF HABITATION
This Psalm is a call to thanksgiving to the LORD, “for He is good: for His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 107:1). The writer longs that those whom the LORD has redeemed, whom He has redeemed from the hand of enemy - out of the east, and from the west, north and south - should “say so” (Psalm 107:2-3). Say what? Share their testimony of what the LORD has done for them.
The psalmist then gives four examples of the type of deliverances which people may have experienced: wanderers in the wilderness (Psalm 107:4); prisoners in chains (Psalm 107:10); those languishing in sickness (Psalm 107:18); those tossed about in the storms of life (Psalm 107:27). Each called upon the name of the LORD, and the LORD heard them, and the LORD wrought deliverance (Psalm 107:6; Psalm 107:13; Psalm 107:19; Psalm 107:28). Each time the psalmist repeats his appeal, that men would ‘praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men’ (Psalm 107:8; Psalm 107:15; Psalm 107:21; Psalm 107:31).
Now each of these pictures speaks to the whole condition of mankind outside of Christ. We see it here in the first: wandering in the seemingly trackless wilderness of life, seeking but not finding a city to dwell in (Psalm 107:4). ‘Without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world’ (Ephesians 2:12).
I am glad it does not end there. Ephesians 2:13 continues: ‘But now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.’
But the wanderers in the wilderness had to realise their condition before the remedy could be applied. “Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them” (Psalm 107:5). It is, after all, those who ‘hunger and thirst after righteousness’ who shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).
Filled with what? Filled with ‘the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe’ (Romans 3:22). Thus are we made ‘the righteousness of God in Him’ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
So “they cried to the LORD,” as we have seen, in their hunger and thirst, “and He delivered them” (Psalm 107:6). “For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9).
And in that trackless wilderness, the LORD led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation (Psalm 107:7). Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but by Me’ (John 14:6).
This reversal is echoed later in our Psalm, and again using the figure of a wilderness. What we see here, if nothing else, is that the LORD is behind it all: “He” made the wilderness (Psalm 107:33); “He” turns “the dry ground into water-springs” (Psalm 107:35).
Remember, those who ‘hunger and thirst after righteousness’ (Matthew 5:6)? Remember how they “found no city to dwell in” (Psalm 107:4); and how, when they had cried to the LORD, “He led them forth by the right way (Jesus is the Way), that they might go to a city of habitation” (Psalm 107:7)? Well, here they are at journey’s end: “And there He makes the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation” (Psalm 107:36).
There they sow fields, plant vineyards, and benefit from the fruit of their labours (Psalm 107:37). The Christian life is not a lazy life, but it is a fruitful one.