1 O thank the LORD, for he is good; his love endures always. 2 Let those whom God redeemed say this, those rescued by his grace. He saved them from their enemies 3 and brought them from the lands, From east and west, from north and south, safe from oppressing hands.
4 Some wandered in the desert wastes, not finding any way To reach a city where they might obtain a place to stay. 5 Their life and strength were ebbing fast in thirst and emptiness. 6 Then in despair they sought the LORD, who saved them from distress.
7 Straight was the path he led them on, a city to attain. 8 So for the LORD’s unfailing love let them give thanks again, And for the awesome deeds of power which he for them achieves— 9 For hungry souls he fills with good; the thirsty he relieves.
10 Some sat in darkness and in gloom, in chains of iron held; 11 They scorned the ways of God Most High, against his words rebelled. 12 And so he made them labour hard in bitterness and shame. They stumbled, and they could not rise; to help them no one came.
13 Then to the LORD they cried for help; he saved them from their doom. 14 He broke away their cruel chains and brought them out of gloom. 15 So let them thank him for his love, the deeds which he achieves— 16 Because he breaks down gates of bronze and iron bars he cleaves.
17 Some erred through their rebellious ways and for their sins paid dear. 18 All kinds of food revolted them; the gates of death drew near. 19 Then in despair they sought the LORD; he saved them from their doom. 20 His word went forth with healing power and kept them from the tomb.
You can hear a Free Church of Scotland sing vv 10 – 16 to the haunting tune Morven here and vv 37-43 to the tune Rachel here.
As I type this, my 18-year-old is upstairs recovering from his first (and hopefully last) hangover and my reflections on this Psalm have changed as a result. The God of my childhood was a remote figure with the potential for capricious behaviour. This lack of faith in God’s true and abiding love for me, reflected those sections of the Old Testament that tried to explain natural disasters as God’s punishments for His people. Looking back at what I thought was faith, and who I thought was God, shows a picture I recognise as little as I recognise the God of much of the Old Testament.
In Psalm 107, we see God in His true form – a patient parent welcoming home a stumbling child. This is a God who would, late at night, collect their child from a birthday party in the next town. This is a God who would sit on the floor beside their child with a bucket and a large glass of water. This is a God who would have a jam sandwich and an Irn-Bru ready the next morning. Crucially, this is a God who would show this love to their child whether it was the first time or the fifty-thousandth time. This is a God who did turn out for their child and who was loved and listened to by some, but was also mocked and killed by others. Something else He easily overcame! It is clear that the God known to the writer of Psalm 107 is the God of the New Testament, the God of Christ and a God whose loving behaviour is worth emulating.
The problem is, how many people, through a lack of teaching or guidance, have that old picture of God as some sort of sky-genie who cannot be relied on, loved or trusted? And how can we help them meet the God who will keep them from the tomb?
My God, in me, beside me, inspiring me: teach me to demonstrate your loving ways.
My Father, whose love inspired this beautiful Psalm: fill me with patient love for those who wander.
My Brother, who came to walk with me: teach me how to introduce your love to those who are in darkness.
My Sister, who resides in me and guides me: do not allow me to forget you or return to stumbling. Amen.
Helen Wilson, Local Preacher, South-East Northumberland Ecumenical Area.