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Psalm 107 | CRY OUT

07.27.17 | Summer through the Psalms | by Stephanie Teslaa

Psalm 107 | CRY OUT

    Our church body has the option to join us in reading all 150 Psalms throughout the Summer. While reading these Psalms, several women from our church have written reflections on those texts and we are so blessed to share them with you.

    Psalm 107

    Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,

    for his steadfast love endures forever!

    Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,

    whom he has redeemed from trouble

    and gathered in from the lands,

    from the east and from the west,

    from the north and from the south.

    Some wandered in desert wastes,

    finding no way to a city to dwell in;

    hungry and thirsty,

    their soul fainted within them.

    Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,

    and he delivered them from their distress.

    He led them by a straight way

    till they reached a city to dwell in.

    Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,

    for his wondrous works to the children of man!

    For he satisfies the longing soul,

    and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

    Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,

    prisoners in affliction and in irons,

    for they had rebelled against the words of God,

    and spurned the counsel of the Most High.

    So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;

    they fell down, with none to help.

    Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,

    and he delivered them from their distress.

    He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,

    and burst their bonds apart.

    Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,

    for his wondrous works to the children of man!

    For he shatters the doors of bronze

    and cuts in two the bars of iron.

    Some were fools through their sinful ways,

    and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;

    they loathed any kind of food,

    and they drew near to the gates of death.

    Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,

    and he delivered them from their distress.

    He sent out his word and healed them,

    and delivered them from their destruction.

    Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,

    for his wondrous works to the children of man!

    And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,

    and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

    Some went down to the sea in ships,

    doing business on the great waters;

    they saw the deeds of the LORD,

    his wondrous works in the deep.

    For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,

    which lifted up the waves of the sea.

    They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;

    their courage melted away in their evil plight;

    they reeled and staggered like drunken men

    and were at their wits' end.

    Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,

    and he delivered them from their distress.

    He made the storm be still,

    and the waves of the sea were hushed.

    Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,

    and he brought them to their desired haven.

    Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,

    for his wondrous works to the children of man!

    Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,

    and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

    He turns rivers into a desert,

    springs of water into thirsty ground,

    a fruitful land into a salty waste,

    because of the evil of its inhabitants.

    He turns a desert into pools of water,

    a parched land into springs of water.

    And there he lets the hungry dwell,

    and they establish a city to live in;

    they sow fields and plant vineyards

    and get a fruitful yield.

    By his blessing they multiply greatly,

    and he does not let their livestock diminish.

    When they are diminished and brought low

    through oppression, evil, and sorrow,

    he pours contempt on princes

    and makes them wander in trackless wastes;

    but he raises up the needy out of affliction

    and makes their families like flocks.

    The upright see it and are glad,

    and all wickedness shuts its mouth.

    Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;

    let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.

    Cried Out to the Lord

    Please read all of Psalm 107 if you haven’t already. What questions come to mind when you read the following repeated phrase in Psalm 107: “Then they cried out to the Lord?”

    Here are a few that I landed on while studying this passage:

    •      What did THEN look like? How bad did the THEN get before they cried out?
    •      What did CRY OUT look like, sound like, feel like?
    •      Who is the LORD? Or maybe better said, what is the character of God they are crying out to?

    Psalm 107 opens the fifth book of Psalms, which is filled with encouragement and truth about Israel’s identity as a nation after returning from exile. Specifically, Psalm 107 paints vivid pictures of a less than perfect world, broken people, and roller coaster patterns, spiraling cycles of living. I’m not sure where you might be at now, but have you ever felt like life was a roller coaster or spinning out of control? If you have, then the pictures in Psalm 107 may resonate with you:

    •      Hungry and thirsty wandering through a desert wasteland; finding no place to land. (Ps 107:4-9)
    •      Hopelessly alone in a dark place, paralyzed and chained by your own rebellion. (Ps 107:10-16)
    •      Gorging on all life can offer and finding death instead of satisfaction, afflicted by your own foolishness. (Ps 107:17-22)
    •      Feeling tossed around by this broken, chaotic world like a boat on a stormy sea, staggering, washed up, waterlogged. (Ps 107:23-32)

    These pictures above describe the situations or the distress that proceeded the THEN in Psalm 107. Distress can be evidence of a broken world; innocent victims of suffering or casualties of other people’s sin. In other cases, it can be evidence of running from God in self-sufficient arrogance, thinking we should sit on the throne of our own life (a.k.a. sin). In those cases, the distress may be worldly consequences for sin or it may be God choosing to discipline those he loves.

    Each of us has a story proceeding our THEN but what follows the THEN is the most important part of our stories and the most important part of THE STORY of the Bible. How do you respond to distress, trouble, affiliation, disappointment, sorrow, sin, and rebellion?

    Psalm 107’s response to the THEN is to CRY OUT. Crying out is a posture of the heart more than a specific physical demonstration. For some it may come with actual tears and loud pleading, for others it may be a reserved sigh and prayer. However, it is a whole-hearted act of desperation. In your distress, who do you cry out to? If it’s to God, are your cries whole-hearted?

    I don’t want to assume that you are crying out to the Lord. Often times, the Lord is our last resort. Instead of cries, we try to fix it on our own, we may give up and become complacent, we may run in a different direction, we may become preoccupied with ourselves or our hobbies, we may expect others to rescue us or make us feel better. We may even find temporary relief from those options, but it never lasts. It is Satan’s bait and switch game, his old standby trick. When we turn to the wrong things, Satan gives us enough relief from the discomfort that we think it’s actually working. Then he switches the game and we fall deeper into our trouble. Sometimes, we need to come to the end of ourselves before we will actually cry out to God. At least that was my experience… It was THEN that I CRIED OUT.

    The CRY OUT is a fervent expression of faith and trust in who the God of Scripture is regardless of your current experience of Him, of life, of others, of this world. Crying out requires seeking the Lord with your whole heart, whether it’s your last resort or your first. And these cries must be grounded in WHO God is, not in our circumstances, not in ourselves.

    Why does the WHO matter? When life is a roller coaster, when our feelings betray us, when our idols don’t deliver, or when we are so deceived we can’t see truth, God is the only stable, steadfast, unshakable, unchanging answer. We need to grab hold of the true character of God. He’s both the lion and the lamb; both holy and gracious. How you perceive the Lord changes the way you approach Him. If you see God only as the lion, you will approach with fear, complacency, or paralysis. If you see God only as a lamb, you will approach with unrestrained boldness. So how do you approach a God who is both the lion and the lamb? Humbly bold. We need to see ourselves before a holy, powerful God but also before the Father of the Prodigal Son.

    Lovingkindness is used in Psalm 107 six times to describe God. This is the Hebrew word “hesed,” a word often times preached by Pastor Rod. The first use of hesed is found in the story of God rescuing Lot (Genesis 19). This story exhibits both the holiness of God but also His mercy. It’s a beautiful picture of God rescuing someone out of distress, even if that person isn’t fully aware of their trouble. His love is unconditional, steadfast, unchanging, enduring, holy, and full of mercy.

    Psalm 107 paints the next brush stroke after, “then they cried out to the Lord;” He delivers, He leads to a straight path and an inhabited city, He satisfies, He saves, He brings out of darkness, He breaks chains, He heals, He brings out of distress, He calms the storm, and He guides to a desired haven. That is our God! My prayer is that you can trust, love, and obey the God of Scripture enough to CRY OUT.