“Worship is natural to the Christian,” said J. I. Packer, writing about the Psalms. “The habit of celebrating the greatness and graciousness of God yields an endless flow of thankfulness, joy, and zeal.” Today begins our study on the fifth book of the Psalms (chapters 107–150). In the Psalms we find joy-filled expressions of praise. We also hear honest words of suffering and sorrow. The Psalms give language to the whole range of our human experience, helping us bring every emotion before God.
Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story. Psalm 107:2
Psalm 107 focuses on God’s grace and forgiveness After decades of their exile because of their sin, God restored Israel to her land. The psalm uses four images to depict the horrors of exile. Living in exile is compared to wandering in desert wastelands with no food or water (vv. 4–5). The exile is then compared to a prisoner in chains working like a slave (vv. 10–13), all hope seemed lost. In a rather different image, the exile is compared to a fool who suffers because of his folly (vv. 17–18). Finally, exile is compared to a merchant on a ship caught in a storm (vv. 23–26).
In each situation, people cried to the Lord for help and He delivered them. He gave food and drink to the desert wanderer (v. 9). He brought the prisoner out of darkness (v. 14). He rescued the fool (v. 20). God calmed the waves and “stilled the storm to a whisper” (v. 29).
In each case, people were delivered not because they deserved it but because they called upon the Lord. Again and again, we are called to praise God for His “unfailing love” (vv. 1, 8, 15, 21, 31), which comes to its fulfillment in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Reading the Psalms can be a wonderful habit to create. Try reading each psalm aloud. Listen to what the Psalmist is saying. Reflect on what is being communicated to God. Pray through one psalm each day!