Psalm 107:1-9

‘’He poured great draughts of water down parched throats; the starved and hungry got plenty to eat.’’ The Message. Strong spiritual desire, let it be said, is so important, and a missing ingredient in lots of churches and in the lives of many professing Christians. There is a Biblical principle, exemplified in these verses, that those who hunger and thirst will be filled (5, 9). Hunger and thirst for God (and for the things of God) get translated into heartfelt prayer, and God answers prayer (6, 7). I read a wonderful testimony, written by a woman, Tara Edelschick, who lost her husband of five years through complications from routine surgery. Ten days later, her first child, Sarah, was stillborn. In the throes of this loss she embarked on a spiritual search, and came to know Jesus through reading John’s gospel with a Christian friend. She found that she was hungry for the very real Jesus who leapt out of the pages of ‘John’. Like the people mentioned in (4-9) she was restless, looking for a place to ‘’settle’’ we might say (4, 7). In Jesus, her restlessness came to an end. Over time she discovered that a number of Christians, who did not know her, living many miles away, had prayed for her in her loss and pain. Some were (amazingly) now her friends, and one she was married to! She writes in ‘Christianity Today’ (July/August 2014): ‘’Piecing it all together, I wept and wept, unable to imagine the grace of it all. In 1997, when I was an agnostic widow living in New Jersey, a group of Christians in Massachusetts had been praying for me. And while my own attempts to find a faith never adequately explained my conversion, this did. I had been prayed into the kingdom.’’ This psalm emphasises the truth of a prayer-answering God.

The opening three verses of the psalm read like this in The Message: ‘’Oh, thank GOD – he’s so good! His love never runs out. All of you set free by GOD, tell the world! Tell how he freed you from oppression, Then rounded you up from all over the place, from the four winds, from the seven seas.’’ Those of us ‘’redeemed’’ through Christ have a responsibility to tell about our Redeemer and His redemption (Romans 10:9, 10). What God has done in the ‘heart’ should be expressed through the ‘mouth’. God has shown His goodness and love to people from all over the world and gathered them into His kingdom. It is only right that we should give Him His due in praise and worship and testimony. Four times in Psalm 107 the psalmist mentions God’s ‘’wonderful deeds for men’’ (8, 15, 21, 31). That means for all mankind. God’s love is not just for the Jews. It is for all people everywhere. Of course, though, it is only truly known by those who cry out to Him for help (6, 13, 19, and 28). Alec Motyer heads this psalm: ‘’Everybody can pray’’ and says ‘’the stance of the psalm is deliberately worldwide’’ New Bible Commentary, p.557

The psalmist describes four categories of people: those wandering in the desert (4-9); those in prison or enslaved (10-16); those afflicted in body and soul (17-22); and ‘’those in peril on the sea’’ (23-32). Here are illustrations of the different kinds of trouble people can experience in life, and from which they can be delivered through prayer. These words do not necessarily describe four different groups of people. It could be the same people facing these various troubles at different times in their lives. But in all circumstances, they (and we) can cry out to the Lord and experience His love and goodness, for He is a prayer-answering God. Whatever life throws at us can be met with prayer. ‘’One of the enduring delights of this psalm is repetition – repeated descriptions of threatening situations (4-5, 10, 17-18, 23-26), repeated recourse to prayer (6,13, 19, 28), repeated divine response (6-7, 13-14, 19-20, 28-29), repeated calls to thankfulness (8, 15, 21, 31).’’ J.A. Motyer: New Bible Commentary, p.557.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for your every encouragement to pray.