“Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.” Psalm 107:43
This psalm begins with the exhortation, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south” (Psalm 107:1-3). It unfolds to speak of the redeemed. Where they were, who they were, before God stepped in and changed everything. The focus is on the steadfast love of the Lord, showing that in each group, “they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.”
Verse 43 closes out the psalm. The writer doesn’t want us to simply read it over and move on. He wants us to “attend to these things,” to “consider the steadfast love of the LORD.” He wants the truth found here to sink in. So I want to take a few moments and allow God to weave His truth into our thoughts as we look at His acts of redemption and salvation on behalf of those He gathers in.
“Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them” (vs. 4-5). Desperate people. At the end of their strength and hope. Lost, exhausted, without anywhere they belonged. But then they cried out to the Lord. “He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in” (v. 7). They cried out and He answered. He saw their need and led them perfectly to the home they had been searching for. “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things” (v. 9).
“Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High” (vs.10-11). For these, in His steadfast love, God first brought them to a point of need: “they fell down, with none to help” (v. 12). They were placed in a position of being clearly unable to save themselves. So they cried out to the Lord. These rebels, who had spurned His counsel and offended His greatness, cried out in their distress to the only Hope they had. And He came to deliver them. “He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart” (v.14). What mercy. What grace. This snapshot of those God redeems shows us that no one is beyond saving. No one is out of the reach of His grace, and no chains can stop Him from gathering in His chosen. “For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron” (v. 16).
“Some were fools in their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction” (vs. 17-18). These don’t even seem to know what they’re doing. They suffer the consequences of their choices but still don’t really recognize their wrongdoing. Their eyes seem completely blinded. But in their affliction, in their distress, they cry out to the Lord. I love the picture of His deliverance here: “He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction” (v. 20). Delivered from the destruction of their own making by the healing that comes from the Word of the Lord. Healing that gives sight to the blind. Healing that breathes life into the soul. Healing that restores our strength and mends our brokenness. The living, active Word of God heals and delivers us because His Spirit empowers it. As He opens our eyes and heals us through His Word, let us “offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy” (v. 22).
“Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the LORD…For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea…their courage melted away in their evil plight” (vs. 23-26). This group seems a bit different from the others. We don’t see a broad definition of their life. Perhaps they are those who are simply walking through life thinking everything is fine. They go about business as usual. Not seeking earnestly out of hunger and need. Not caught in a prison of darkness. Not suffering major consequences. They’re doing the best they can. But then their world is shaken. The illusion that they had some measure of control is shattered. Their courage melts away. They cry out for deliverance. And He shows up. The Creator comes in power and sovereignty. “He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed…and he brought them to their desired haven” (vs. 29-30). The Lord of Heaven doesn’t mock their illusion of control. He doesn’t delay out of spite. He doesn’t withhold forgiveness to prove a point or debate about deliverance. No, He answers their cry. Because His love for them is steadfast and perfect. He wants to bring them from a life that appears “fine” to a life filled with His glory. Life abundant where they can know fullness of joy, where the storms of life won’t overwhelm them because they rest in His strength.
This is our God. One who is able to save us no matter where we are. He gathers us in. He redeems us. He heals us. He does whatever is necessary to show us our need for Him, to break down the lies that tell us we are OK without Him. We find life and healing in His wings. We find our place in the family of God, brought near to the One who reigns over all. “He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in” (vs. 35-36).