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Sermon35 Psalm107 Guide

Psalm 107, theme verse Ezek. 107:8-9

The praise and honor and glory be to our heavenly Father who seeks true worshipers who worship Him with the Spirit and truth.

Last week, we saw that because of the idolatry and immorality of the divided kingdoms, Northern Israel was destroyed by Assyria and brought and dispersed to all the Assyrian region and even the remaining people in Samarian region were mixed with Assyrian conquerors ethically so that until now it became their shame and Southern Judah was destroyed by Babylon and they were taken captive to Babylon as God already warned, but, after 70 years later, they were brought back to Jerusalem by the love and covenantal faithfulness of God. Today’s psalm 107 is a thanksgiving psalm which was presumed to be written after they returned from Babylon by the grace of God so that it was used for the worshipping psalm when they were worshipping in the temple. So, in this thanksgiving Sunday, through psalm 107, we would like to learn why we have to thank God together.

1) Psalm 107 is a psalm to exhort the people of God who was saved by God from various kinds of sufferings, through the repeated pattern,

- when they met the tribulations,

- they cried out to the LORD

- so that God saved them

- And then the psalmist exhorted people to praise the faithfulness of God

And then to develop more deeper the exhortation of thanksgiving and praising its structure further, the psalm utilizes two refrains; the first refrain “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distress (vv. 6, 13, 19, 28)” and the second refrain of “Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderous works to the children of man (vv. 8, 15, 21, 31)”. And after explaining the sovereignty and power of God towards the poor and the princes, then the final verse calls on the wise to pay attention, thus connecting the psalm to the wisdom traditions of the Old Testament.[1]

2) The structure of Psalm 107 is as follows;

- vv.1-3 (Preface) A call to praise the LORD

- vv.4-9 The LORD who delivered His people who wandered in the wilderness

- vv.10-16 The LORD who released the prisoners in the darkness, in affliction and in the shadow of death

- vv.17-22 The LORD who healed the sick

- vv.23-32 The LORD who delivered from the sea

- vv.33-42 The LORD who saved the poor in His mighty power

- vv.43 The wise will know the steadfast love of the LORD

3) All the religions and philosophies say that the life if the sea of suffering. But Psalm 107 tries to explain the suffering of the life through four narratives of deliverance of the wanderers in the wilderness, the prisoners in the darkness, in afflictions and in the shadows of death, those who are suffered with the sickness, and the sailors who shipwreck by the high wave in the deep sea. Here, the wanders in the wilderness depict those who were wandering in the wilderness where there were no food and drinks, the prisoners in the darkness, in affliction and in the shadow of death depict those who were sit down in the darkness, in affliction, and in the shadow of death in chains, after betraying the word of God, the sick depict those who are suffering by physical and mental illness and its sufferings by more evil doing due to their foolishness which results from their sins, and the sailors who shipwreck depict those who were in danger by the big wave which they cannot face up with in the deep sea which they cannot understand so that human beings are the beings who are suffered not only with individual sufferings such as the sufferings in the life wilderness and with the physical and mental sickness, but also with the affliction and death by the domain of darkness, i.e., sins and evil spirits, being chained and the waving deep sea, i.e., the wars between the nations under the sovereign reign of God which they cannot understand.

4) The list seems to be one that suits the experiences of the exiles and the dispersion so that we can know that the types of adversity must symbolize the corporate experience of the people who had wandered hungry and thirsty for the salvation of God “in the great desert of the world”; had been imprisoned in the exile, had been terminally ill because of their transgressions, and “had been all but swallowed up in the vast sea of the nations”.[2]

5) As VanGemeren tried to analyze the psalm with chiastic structure as follows;

A (vv.1-3) The exhortation to thank the eternal LORD of goodness & faithful love

B (vv.4-9) Wanderers in the Desert

C (vv.10-16) Prisoners

C’ (vv.17-22) Sick People

B’ (vv.23-32) Sailors on the Sea

A’ (vv.33-43) The exhortation to consider the faithful love of God

after explaining the sovereignty and mighty power of the LORD

Psalm 107 describes that people who appear in it as people who are trapped and suffering because of their sins, and who are immersed in a dry wilderness and a turbulent sea.[3] And psalm 107 says that the solution lies in the good and faithful loving God the LORD, through the following pattern,

Encountering the suffering  Crying out to the LORD  God’s salvational work  Exhortation to praise the faithful love of the LORD and the great work

So that after experiencing the salvation of God, then psalmist exhorts the wise recognize the faithful love of God and the great work and praise the LORD.

6) Through today's passage, we would like to learn few things. First, we need to understand human being and the life. All religions and philosophies in the world say that the life of human beings, who cannot avoid birth, aging, illness, and death, are a sea of suffering, and that the cause is human ignorance and obsession. However, Psalm 107 provides much deeper and broader understanding on that. We, human beings, face up with not just suffering on a personal level, that is, suffering in the wilderness, illness, and death, but also with sufferings from being bound by the chains of sin, death, and darkness, that is, Satan, and also huge waves and storms that we cannot bear, i.e., the wars between nations under the sovereign reign of God which we can neither understand nor know. Therefore, we Christians, realizing this total depravity, incompetence, finitude, and weakness that we humans have, must be humble. So, secondly, we must not rely on our wisdom and power, rather rely entirely on God, who is not only good and faithful, but also omnipotent and sovereign, and who will save those who cries out to Him in the sea of pain so that we must praise the goodness and mercy of God who supports and holds the poor by experiencing and tasting it. And finally, the goodness of God (Hebrew, טובב, tob) in verse 1 of today's text refers to the attribute of God to deal bountifully and kindly with all His creatures which shows that He is God.[4] And God’s faithful love (Hebrew, חԶסדד, hesed) can be understood as “unfailing kindness, devotion, i.e., a love or affection that is steadfast based on a prior relationship”.[5] These attributes of God's goodness and faithful love give great comfort to us who are weak and short, and although we live under darkness, affliction, and the shadow of death, in a world like a wilderness corrupted by sin and like a deep sea with waves, while suffering, we can live the life of gratitude and praise because of God's goodness (tob) and faithful love (hesed). So, that’s why psalmist seems to be telling the wise in the last verse 43 to understand and know the faithful love of the LORD. I pray that all of us who have been saved by grace through God's goodness and faithful love will be able to live with gratitude, especially today on Thanksgiving Day and always.

Key Questions as Small Group Activity

Q1 In Today’s text, human beings are depicted as the wanderers in the wilderness, the prisoners with chains in the darkness, in affliction and in the shadow of death, and the sailors who shipwreck. Even though these people were pictured as those who were destroyed by Babylon and were taken captive to Babylon and had been suffering there, yet, it is true that we are in the same situation. So, after reviewing your life, if you think that you are suffering in similar situation, then while sharing your feelings and thoughts, you may empathize each other to know more about each other.

Q2 Yet, today’s text says that first of all we have to cry out to God, since the sufferings or afflictions which we are taking are too big which we can bear. After reviewing your life, if you experience those situation that you cannot bear, yet only come before God to cry out, then I hope you could share that experience and what you learn for the human being and the life to learn together.

Love you. Thank you. God bless you.

Prayer Note

Dear ( God’s attribute which you found Today ) God!

Thanks for ( something you received through the sermon or even during the week )

Praise, gratitude and glory be to You, Lord!

Today, I realized my sin (pains) that ( the sin God reminded through the sermon ),

please forgive (or heal) me and help me not to repeat ( the sins you recognized ).

I learned that ( something you learned through the sermon )

Please help me to live in that ( learned way of life )

I pray in ( Jesus’ attribute you find ) Jesus’ name. Amen.

[1] Longman, T., III. (2014). Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary (D. G. Firth, Ed.; Vols. 15–16, p. 375). Inter-Varsity Press. [2] Mays, J. L. (1994). Psalms (p. 346). John Knox Press. [3] VanGemeren, W. A. (1991). Psalms. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (Vol. 5, p. 682). Zondervan Publishing House. [4] Berkhof, L. (1938). Systematic theology (p. 70). Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co. [5] Swanson, J. (1997). In Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Logos Research Systems, Inc.


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