No Greater Love
Book FiveThe Lord Rescues People from Many Troubles.O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;For His compassion and lovingkindness endure forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary, And gathered them from the lands,From the east and from the west,From the north and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a [solitary] desert region;And did not find a way to an inhabited city. Hungry and thirsty,They fainted. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,And He rescued them from their distresses. He led them by the straight way,To an inhabited city [where they could establish their homes]. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness,And for His wonderful acts to the children of men! For He satisfies the parched throat,And fills the hungry appetite with what is good. Some dwelt in darkness and in the deep (deathly) darkness,Prisoners [bound] in misery and chains, Because they had rebelled against the precepts of GodAnd spurned the counsel of the Most High. Therefore He humbled their heart with hard labor;They stumbled and there was no one to help. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,And He saved them from their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the deep (deathly) darknessAnd broke their bonds apart. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness,And for His wonderful acts to the children of men! For He has shattered the gates of bronzeAnd cut the bars of iron apart. Fools, because of their rebellious way,And because of their sins, were afflicted. They detested all kinds of food,And they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,And He saved them from their distresses. He sent His word and healed them,And rescued them from their destruction. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness,And for His wonderful acts to the children of men! And let them offer the sacrifices of thanksgiving,And speak of His deeds with shouts of joy! Those who go down to the sea in ships,Who do business on great waters; They have seen the works of the Lord,And His wonders in the deep. For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind,Which lifted up the waves of the sea. They went up toward the heavens [on the crest of the wave], they went down again to the depths [of the watery trough];Their courage melted away in their misery. They staggered and trembled like a drunken man,And were at their wits’ end [all their wisdom was useless]. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,And He brought them out of their distresses. He hushed the storm to a gentle whisper,So that the waves of the sea were still. Then they were glad because of the calm,And He guided them to their desired haven (harbor). Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness,And for His wonderful acts to the children of men! Let them exalt Him also in the congregation of the people,And praise Him at the seat of the elders. He turns rivers into a wilderness,And springs of water into a thirsty ground; A productive land into a [barren] salt waste,Because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it. He turns a wilderness into a pool of waterAnd a dry land into springs of water; And there He has the hungry dwell,So that they may establish an inhabited city, And sow fields and plant vineyards,And produce an abundant harvest. Also He blesses them so that they multiply greatly,And He does not let [the number of] their cattle decrease. When they are diminished and bowed down (humbled)Through oppression, misery, and sorrow, He pours contempt on princesAnd makes them wander in a pathless wasteland. Yet He sets the needy securely on high, away from affliction,And makes their families like a flock. The upright see it and rejoice;But all unrighteousness shuts its mouth. Who is wise? Let him observe and heed these things;And [thoughtfully] consider the lovingkindness of the Lord.
A college student brought a framed picture of his girlfriend to a photographic studio for duplication. In removing the photo from the frame, the studio owner saw this inscription on the back: “Dearest Tommy, I love you with all my heart. I love you more and more each day. I will love you forever and ever. I am yours for all eternity.”
The note was signed, “Dianne” and contained this P.S., “If we should ever break up, I want this picture back.”
That’s the striking contrast to Psalm 107, which begins with “his love endures forever”(verse 1) and ends with “consider the great love of the Lord(verse 43).,
You will find yourself in at least one of the four groups of people considering that love: the lonely(verses 4-9), the trapped(verses 10-16), the sick(verses 17-22), and the adventuresome(verses 23-31). The praise of all four joins together in verses 1-3 prior to their individual testimonies. Have you also found God’s love reaches longer than your ability to outrun it- east or west, north or south?
Every life story consists of four parts: a description of the need, a cry for help, God’s response to the cry, and our response to God’s help.
A description of the need: Those who are lonely wander in barren and dry places without any resources to meet their needs. Any time we lack direction, are cut off from community, we wander. We feel life slipping away and our appetites remain unmet(verses 4-5).
Those who are trapped by drugs, alcohol, destructive relationships, addictive habits and perversion know what darkness, shackles, bitter labor, gloom and stumbling around is like. Could it be their fault for they said no to the Lord?
Can it happen that our bodies become sick because we have sinned? By all means. When we engage in self-destructive conduct, whether substance abuse, overeating, lack of exercise, destructive attitudes that poison our bodies, immorality that produces STD’s and the like, we become sick because of our sins. Some us us can look back and see how foolish we were (verses 16-18).
Then we must consider the adventurous who take risks in order to gain. Even those who embark on great ventures for God aren’t immune from peril. If God didn’t spare the apostles, He also might not spare us.(Acts 27:13-44)
Those who are lonely, suffering, trapped and even the adventurous, when in trouble must cry to the Lord to be rescued( verses 6, 13, 19, 28).
Our cry needn’t be fancy. We don’t need a collection of carefully put together words or even a prayer we’ve memorized. When we’re in trouble, God doesn’t require anything profound from our lips. Any cry will do as long as it’s a cry unto the Lord.
And God delivers. He brings the adventurer who is sinking safe into harbor, the sick to wellness, the trapped to freedom and the lonely back into community. Our condition of helplessness is changed by the Lord either all at once-which we prefer- or over time- which may challenge us for we feel we need God’s intervention now. Sometimes we forget that it took awhile for us to make the mess of our lives and it takes time to unravel it. We might even quit the self-destructive behavior quickly but it may take time for our minds to become renewed.
Does God deserve a standing ovation for delivering us? Should we take time to give Him thanks? To be sure, but there is something else that Gods seeks- that we learn our spiritual lessons well(verses 33-43).
Psalm 107 tells us that there is a price for doing wrong and a reward for doing well. In keeping with its Old Testament context, the payback comes with material blessing- serve God and prosper- or forget God and suffer. There are exceptions, however, as Job, Joseph and a handful of others show that hardship is not always because of disobedience. In the New Testament, Jesus takes it further by saying that suffering would be part of life here on earth. We might not receive payback in this life even though we do receive many incredible installments along the way, but when we see Christ, He brings His reward for us with Him.
Psalm 107 asks us to “consider the great love of God” by reviewing our and the testimonies of others. We have a much better opportunity to consider the love of God than the psalmist for we have seen God display His love for us by sending Christ to die for us on the cross.
George Wood says that this psalm deserves the P.S. of 1 John 3:1 which says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.”
Dr. John Thompson