Summary: Using Psalm 107, this sermon explores how God's love is expressed to us in the context of our troubles in life; then, how worship is birthed in our hearts out of these experiences.
This morning we draw our message from Psalm 107. This psalm or song is a call to worship. It is a reminder of God’s faithfulness in the nation’s history and in individual’s experience as well. Within this text are two key revelations that we want to embrace. First, how God’s love is expressed to us in the context of our troubles in life: This revelation equips us to respond wisely to those troubles rather than simply resenting them or wondering where God is. Second, how genuine worship is birthed in our hearts: Worship is not just something we pump up through great music. Great music might facilitate the process; but worship is a response that flows out of our experience with God and our understanding of Him as a result of those experiences. So today we will be talking about worship and we will be talking about trouble and what to do about it.
Anybody here run into some trouble along your life’s journey? Job was going along pretty good in life until he ran into some trouble—and the trouble was serious (financial loss, deaths in the family, personal sickness—unexpected trouble. How do you deal with it? David had a lot of wonderful experiences with God and some awesome victories; but David also had a lot of trouble along the way—His own king going berserk and throwing spears at him. King Saul chasing through the country like a common criminal—he had a baby son die, strife in the family, kids who rebelled. There were glories times in David’s life when he danced for joy before the Lord; but there we also can hear the anguish of his soul in some of the Psalms he wrote during times of trouble.
There are four stanzas in this song that represent paths that people take in life. As an artistic piece of literature, Psalm 107 is not trying to be exhaustive of all the stories of redemption people may have; but it is giving us four pictures of how people go their own way and how God brings them into relationship with Him. Three weeks ago, my wife, Jeanie, identified these four stories. So, I will just briefly review them.
I. Four groups of people experiencing trouble in life and God’s help in time of need.
1. Wanderers in verses 4-9. People wandering through life trying to find their way, living in a wasteland-- hungry, thirsty, unsatisfied—yet unable to find a place of contentment and satisfaction--frustrated and unfulfilled. Verse 4, “Some wandered in desert wastelands….” Verse 5 “They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.” Anybody here feel your life is ebbing away—you need purpose and direction—you need God to lead you into fulfillment?
2. The Prisoners in verses 10-16 are depressed, living in a state of gloom. Circumstances have closed in on them-financial woes, relational breakdowns, addictions and other complications. They see no way out—no solution in sight. Verse 11 specifically says they got themselves in the mess “for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High.” Most of my troubles have been self-imposed—the consequences of my own bad choices—following my own desires instead of doing what I knew to do. Jonah got into the belly of a fish because he rebelled against the words of God. God told him to go one way; he chose to go his own way. God Himself sent a storm into Jonah’s life—a storm designed to turn him around. David said in Ps 119:67 “Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept thy word.” And in verse 71 “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” The chastening or correction David experienced from the Lord was painful and the time; but in it he humbled himself and learned the lesson to be learned and later he could see the goodness of his Heavenly Father in it all (Heb 12:11).
3. Verse 17 calls the next group Fools, “Some became fools”(How) through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.” Verses 17-22 describes their experience. It’s important to recognize that the troubles are a consequence of their own choices. A mean old devil didn’t do it to them. They are not victims of fate. They got themselves into the trouble. In our society everybody is a victim and nobody is responsible. That leaves the door to freedom locked—because the key to freedom is an old-fashion thing called repentance. And the first step toward repentance is to acknowledge that you’ve been going the wrong way—you walked into trouble because you were moving in the wrong direction—now you are ready to turn around and walk out of the mess going the other direction.