Delivered from Distress - Psalm 107
Topic: Stand Alone Passage: Psalm 107
Christopher Rich – Aug 24, 2015
Summer Psalms | Delivered from Distress | #107
Introduction | Verse 1-3 | God Saves, We Celebrate!
Good Morning! We are in our Summer Psalms series. Each pastor at Damascus Road Church has preached during this series to remind us the Gospel is not for soloists standing alone but is to be sung with a full deep and rich choir of voices standing together singing different parts of one song of God’s glory and our joy.
Psalm 107 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble 3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
This song starts and ends with God’s goodness, His love and his works. They are worthy of singing about! What could be greater than being called “the redeemed of the Lord” who have been delivered from distress. God Saves people from trouble (hand of the foe). Why? Because of His steadfast love. Six times in this psalm it God has a “steadfast love” This is not the same thing as our emotive love. This is a specific type of love that God perfectly reflects. It is a covenant love. God making a promise to love His people, more than a promise it is a “binding” to His people. They are His! This is a song sung by those who have been “redeemed by the Lord” and brought back from distant exile. In this case the song was about the nation of Israel being brought back from exile in Babylon. Unfaithful to God they were scattered by a foreign enemy, but now they are no longer in “trouble” or the hand of the foe, they have been gathered. Apart from God we are all people in exile, separated from where we desire and where we belong and God purchases a people and brings them together from scattered individuals to gathering of His people. God Saves and we celebrate! But saved from what? The song breaks out into four distinct verses/stories showing there is a diversity of distress, and different groups in need of deliverance or salvation. We will see there are no perceivable limits to how and who God is able to save, but there is only one solution. They cry out to the Lord in distress and God answers. Despite sin, God saves. Because of sin, God saves.
Verse 4-9 |Empty Wanderers
4 Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; 5 hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. 6 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 7 He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. 8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
Some wandered. Where? In a desert waste where they could not find even a path to a city to belong to. “Not all those who wander are lost” JR Tolkien. Seekers want to find something, anything that will lead to greater life than the one they currently have. These wanderers are seeking and are finding ….nothing… They are lost! They are lost in a desert waste, not a fertile forest or in a busy town. They are not in a place of peace or prosperity where at any moment you can find water, food shelter, have your hungers answered. Because of this they were what? Hungry and thirsty this is what happens when you’re out in a desert waste. We are made with appetites! To desire and to need are not wrong they are how we are made. We are made dependent. When we are lacking food, water, purpose, or hope we faint.
They cried out to the Lord … he delivered from distress. After wandering, finding nothing, and not seeing any path out they were finally at a point of desperation. Sometimes it is better to know you are lost and cry for help than think you’re at the beach because there is sand when you’re really in the desert. It’s better to be faint and tired if it brings us to our knees than feasting and thinking we’re strong. If thirst drives us to the fountain, it is better than the deepest draughts of worldly joys. Spurgeon
How does he deliver them? In this case he doesn’t turn the desert to an oasis he lead them through the desert until the reach a city to dwell in. The path He leads is a straight one. There are a variety of paths to wander in a desert, but only one that will get you out. God leads them on a straight path. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. There is a reason there are no winding roads in deserts because no one wants to stay in them! They want to get out and get to a place of refuge and comfort. Of provision and purpose. God leads His people from desert to city. The story of the Bible is Garden, Desert, Cross, City. God’s covenant love leads to the “wondrous works” So we thank Him for satisfying and filling!
Verse 10-16 | Sitting on Death Row
10 Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, 11 for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. 12 So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. 13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. 15 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 16 For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.
Some sat. Where? In darkness, in the shadow of death, as prisoners in affliction (gloom) and iron chains. None of this is good. At least wandering in the desert there is the faint/false hope you could stumble on the right path and make it out. In a death row prison cell there is no freedom, there is despair, but also the dark cloud of judgement and condemnation. Not a place any of us want to be. Why were they in prison? This wasn’t an accident or a wrongful imprisonment. It was because of their rebellion from God, willful disobedience of His word and rejection of the counsel of God. Their sin sent them to this prison, but God is the jailer who carried out a sentence that included hard back breaking, heart melting, soul crushing, labor. We like the God who saves wanderers in the desert but not the one who justly imprisons rebels. Why would God do this? Hebrews 12 says God disciplines the sons (and daughters) he loves and he does so for the purpose of their repentance. You are a rebel with zeal for your independence but your puny rebellion is crushed and now you are no longer actively fighting all your strength and energy are about the heavy burden you’ve been given. God wants to win not just our actions but our hearts. As they final fell the looked around and found “None to help” When God is the one you have rebelled against, when He is the one who has justly put you in prison, given you hard labor to break you, there is no one else to appeal to.
They cried out to the Lord... He delivered from distress Seeing no one else to appeal to they cry out to the just jailer. I know I belong here, but can you get me out? They put themselves in and God get them out. God is merciful in a big way! They deserve prison, He commutes their sentence AND all that is holding them in is demolished. You can’t go back! Thank him for breaking chains and shattering doors.
Verse 17-22 | Fixing Fools
17 Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; 18 they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 20 He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. 21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 22 And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
Some were fools. How? In their sinful ways. Their actions, the way they were living their lives was not wise they were foolishly sinful. Foolishness isn’t a lack of intellect or academic knowledge it is an ethical-spiritual deficiency. They weren’t without knowledge, or even understanding, they were without will. Why? Iniquities, it is another word for sin that means broken or bent out of shape. Because of sin there are things about us that are just not quite right. This is THE answer to “Well, I was born this way.” Yes all of us were born with different forms of brokenness, but we do not need to continually walk out our brokenness or feed our broken appetites that keep us from what is profitable and sustaining AND instead move us closer to the “gates of death.” The gates of death are easy to get into but impossible to get out of. (Hotel California: You can check out, but you can never leave) This is your life apart from God. Where what is good for us is no longer desired and at a certain point you’re not even pursuing anything that will give you life.
They cried out to the Lord... He delivered from distress. He sends His Word and His Word heals. This is Jesus.
John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
God’s word heals. He also delivers them from destruction. Tackling kid on the ledge. We can call, speak, encourage, but only God’s word has the power to heal and save. God’s word is both overwhelmingly powerful and absolutely effective. While they deserved death, God gave them new life. He healed them. They had rejected words of wisdom and correction leading to a sickness and near death. God spoke words of comfort and restoration. They had a foot in the grave and were brought out. Jesus was in the grave and came out; He speaks those out of the grave. Jesus heals everyone in the gospels who comes to him. He doesn’t turn any away. Jesus will heal ANY who come to him. There are some near death, some have actually died! (Lazarus, widows son, and Jarius’ daughter.) So we thank him for what he has done!
Verse 23-32 | Pride Pirates
23 Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; 24 they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. 25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. 26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; 27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits' end.
28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 29 He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders
Some went down to the sea in ships. To do what? Conduct business. Is business bad? No, but in this case it seems as if they saw the great things God could do and they said “I want some of that!” They want fortune for themselves and for their own independence. They’ve crossed the line from industrious stewardship to greed has leading them to pursue wealth in the midst of chaos. Some experience the chaos that is the sea. It’s unpredictability, its power, its vastness. They saw how waves can send a vessel up and down not on it’s own accord but in response to the actions of the sea. God raised a storm against their pride and courage melted to their plight. In the face of God’s power they were left reeling staggering like drunk men and were at wits end (their wisdom was swallowed up.) Everything that sounded like a good idea failed. They all trying to hold on to something that is stable but the best they can grab is a part of the ship that is being tossed like a toy boat in a bath tub. They are as unstable as this ship just being bounced around.
They cried out to the Lord... He delivered from distress He made the storm be stilled (Jesus!) Waves are not crashing they are silent. “Tempest blow by order of His throne” and they are stilled by the same authority. God’s power and authority is on display here. He speaks and the storm is stopped. God actually can and does change circumstances of those in distress, even those whose “evil plights” put them in stormy waters. God’s power is most evident when it is paired with his grace. Prisoners see God’s mercy, the merchants see God’s grace (getting something you don’t deserve). Here the storm is stopped, but he doesn’t stop with simply leaving them in a calm sea, he brings them to a desired haven. “Let’s get your boat all the way back.” The rougher the sea you’ve been in the more you appreciate the land you’ve been brought to. When you’re in distress the haven God takes you too becomes your desire. God gives new desires so when you are where he puts you; you are actually joyful. God doesn’t bring them to a desert Island of exile he brings them to a desired haven. This is worthy of praise in the gathering of God’s people and the presence of the elders. The God who gathers seas, gathers people. All authority given or exercised is remarkably UNDER God’s authority. You can’t cry out to God if you don’t think you’re in a desert, in a prison, foolish, or prideful. Humility comes when you see your need.
Verse 33-43 |He Turns the World Upside Down
33 He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, 34 a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants. 35 He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. 36 And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; 37 they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield. 38 By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish. 39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow,40 he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; 41 but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks. 42 The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth. 43 Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.
God’s power and authority is over EVERYTHING! We praise His greatness! He displays his greatness in taking what we see and know and turning it upside down. He will take things away from us we rely on that aren’t him (and aren’t reliable) so we will trust and rely on him more and more. He will turn fruitfulness to futility to show His Justice, there are some who get what they deserve. God is not arbitrarily dishing out destruction. It’s earned. The wages of sin is death. But God also brings life from death. He turns futility to fruitfulness to show His grace. God can reverse the condition of ANYTHING so no situation and no person is beyond the hope of Jesus. But He also humbles princes of pride, exiling His enemies, and silences evil. Repent or know this is where things go. He raises up the humble, needy, and afflicted. There is a final destination for “The redeemed” led out of a desert, prison, healed, or through a stormy sea all are taken to a great City, a full, healthy, safe haven. Not a place to visit or pass through but to a place to “dwell” that is established for life! Where we are no longer wanderers, prisoners, foolish rebels, or the prideful and greedy but instead we have a purpose to produce life giving joy for ourselves and others.
What is your story? Where are you here? Do you see the distress of your condition? If not, open your eyes. Are you in distress? Where are you seeking help or relief? Have you cried out to God? If not, call on him! Are you “the redeemed” have you seen God deliver you from your distress? Then respond with praise, worship, meaningful life with other redeemed, purposeful work for His glory and your joy!
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, seeing the goodness and love of God is the continuation of it! We grow in our worship/praise/thankfulness to God as we continue to see God act, but we worship him most/best looking at what He has already done and accomplished on the cross. That IS Love! Trust Jesus!