Through the Bible Day by Day
O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.
“WONDERFUL WORKS TO THE CHILDREN OF MEN”
In this psalm those who have been redeemed by the gracious interpositions of God are summoned to praise Him for a love which endures through all our rebuffs and backslidings. Note how this refrain breaks out in Psa_107:8; Psa_107:15; Psa_107:21; Psa_31:1-24. The psalmist passes before us a series of pictures, selected from the stories of human suffering which have been repeated in all ages of human history. Travelers who have lost their way, captives, sick men, storm-tossed sailors, are presented in as many panels or pictures. The psalmist says that, whatever our trouble, there is only one way out of it-to cry to God. This is never in vain. There is always the saving help of His right hand; and there is always, therefore, the obligation of praise.
The first scene is of a caravan in the desert, with depleted water-skins, emptied stores, and exhausted strength. How many have lost their way in life and are in this plight! These details are true not only physically, but spiritually. The second scene is of a prison-house, and the suggestion is that, in all our lives, there are imprisoning circumstances and limitations which compel us to call for help from Him who said, “He hath sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives.”
Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.
“HIS WONDERS IN THE DEEP”
Sickness yields the third type of suffering. Emphasis is laid on the cause of the suffering, which in the view of the writer is transgression and sin. We shall be justified, therefore, in confining our view of this section to the pain which is directly traceable to wrong-doing. Men ruin their health by evil courses, and the sinner drags down his punishment with his own hands. The portals of death had already opened to receive the sick men, but before they passed through they cried to Jehovah, and though their voice was feeble, they were heard. May we not make our own application of Psa_107:20, by referring it to that Word of God through whom God’s love and healing came to sinners in the days of his flesh?
The storm at sea is the next tableau. We have the sudden gale, the high waves, the ship now on the crest and then in the trough; the terror of the crew; the failure of the helm; the desperation of the sailors; and finally the voice of God above and through the storm. The sudden subsidence of the tempest is a grateful change to the sailors and the crew; and what gladness is theirs when they reach the harbor which they had longed for but had never thought to see again! Such is life, and such will be, by God’s mercy our coming into harbor. “Safe into the haven guide”!
He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground;
THE “LOVING-KINDNESSES OF THE LORD”
The measure changes here. From Psa_107:33 the psalmist drops the refrain and describes, not deliverance from peril or pain, but the sudden alternations wrought by God’s providence. Lands pass from fertility to barrenness, and human lives from prosperity to trouble, and back again. But through all these vicissitudes runs the same loving-kindness, as is clearly discerned by those who have eyes to see and hearts to take heed. How little did Joseph’s brethren realize that behind all the strange experiences they had with his steward, in his house, and in the matter of the cup, a brother’s heart was yearning to reach a moment when all disguise might be laid aside! Similarly we fail to believe that Love is above and through and in all things.
Life resembles this psalm, so full is it of change and trying experiences. Few enjoy unbroken years of prosperity. We are poured from vessel to vessel, and are forbidden to settle on our lees. Our nests are stirred up to teach us how to fly. For most there is the wilderness, the cell, sickness, and the tossing of the ocean waves. But always believe in the love of God. Do not forget to cry; and when your cry has brought an answer of peace, do not forget to praise.