PSALM 107: Learning to See

Learning To See

Our book of Psalms contains 150 psalms. However, there are really 5 shorter books that comprise our big book of Psalms. Those five shorter books are:

  • Psalms of David, Psalms 1—41
  • Psalms of the Temple, Psalms 42—72
  • Psalms of Asaph and Others, Psalms 73—89
  • Miscellaneous Psalms, Psalms 90—106
  • Psalms For Worship, Psalms 107—150

Book five, the last book of the Psalter and is the longest. Almost all of the psalms in Book 5 are geared toward public worship. Very few of them are titled, which means very few have a superscription.

Some refer to this psalm as “a psalm of adoration,” and that is probably an apt description. As the psalmist writes about the many experiences of people, they are all crouched in the general theme of God’s deliverances. There may be no other psalm so closely identified with divine intervention than this one. If you have ever had any doubts about how God has stepped into the lives of His people to help them, then this psalm is for you! Learn from the lessons of the saints.

1. Say So!, 107:1—3

Psalm 107 begins exactly like Psalm 106:

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

But this is where the similarity ends. Psalm 107 is a psalm all about thanksgiving. It’s a great psalm to read when you don’t feel very thankful. It’s not historical, like Psalm 106 is, so you don’t have to know any Hebrew history to understand it. Instead of history, it contains descriptions of all the circumstances of life human beings encounter. If we study this psalm from a cold, mechanical standpoint, it appears to be a kind of “confession of faith,” something that the congregation of saints might repeat during a worship service. The repetition of the phrase: Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for humankind could very well have been a congregational refrain. Even though this was probably the case, to consider psalm 107 as purely liturgical is to miss the point of the psalm and therefore the power of it’s meaning for us. Consider the first two verses:

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe.

What a marvellous way to begin your personal worship of God! It can’t help but encourage your faith to repeat the eternal truths of God’s goodness and love. It may very well be that some days from your perspective God isn’t so good. Depending on your state of mind, these kinds of headlines can plant the seeds of doubt in your mind:

  • Al-Qaida On Brink of Using Nuke Bomb
  • Muslim Brotherhood: Prepare for War with Israel
  • Netanyahu Fears Islamist Takeover
  • Synagogue Set On Fire By Arsonists
  • Turmoil Hits Yemen
  • Oil Tops $100 a Barrel

Hearing stuff like that all day can take its toll on your faith and distort your view of God. That’s why repeating solid Biblical truths like those of Psalm 107:1 is so important. Even when you may not feel like it, you should “give thanks.” If you are like most human beings, your emotions tend to go in the direction of your thoughts; thinking negative things will drag you down. So start being thankful! Praise God when you don’t want to. Pretty soon your emotions will come into line.

Verse two should be the norm for all believers:

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story…

This is something more Christians need to be doing. We’re awfully good at criticizing and complaining. Some of us are expert at talking about ourselves and our accomplishments. But, did you know what you talk about says a lot about what’s important to you. Jesus once said this;

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Matthew 12:34b)

Never be afraid to “tell your story.” Never be ashamed to share the goodness of God with other people.

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38)

God can and God does deliver His people from all kinds of “foes” and “adversity.” Whomever your foe is or whatever your adversity is, the Lord is able to “redeem” you out of it.

2. Reasons to be thankful, 107:4—32

This lengthy group of verses might be viewed as a continuation of Psalm 106 because it deals with Israel’s rebelliousness and God’s judgement. But while Psalm 106 concerns itself with man’s unresponsive and defiant attitude toward God, Psalm 107 stresses God’s goodness toward to man in spite of his sin. The bad circumstances outlined here can be divided into two smaller groups. First, suffering due to man’s circumstances (wandering in the desert and lost at sea) and suffering to do man’s sin (imprisonment and sickness). Regardless of the original meaning of these verses, we can easily apply them to our own circumstances.

(a) Wandering in the desert, verses 4—9

The phrase “desert wastelands” may mean more than first appears. Some scholars suggest this refers to the wilderness wanderings that took place after the Exodus. Others see the Babylonian exile here. The Hebrew word behind the word “wandered” can mean two things: a person is really lost and has no idea where they are, so they wander around, or it can mean a person is lost in the sense of being lost in their sins or living a life with no direction or aim. And of course, a desert is a place nobody wants to cross, get lost in, because it’s barren, dangerous, and empty.

When you are lost in your desert, whatever it may be—real or symbolic—you don’t want to be there. There’s no protection from the elements, no nourishment, no hope, and no future. In the desert there is no direction, no meaning, and no purpose. No wonder the people of God cried out to God! And so should you; God hears you crying out from the desert, and just as He came and led the Israelites out and delivered them, He will rescue you. God can and will make your life right just as He led Israel by a “straight way.” God will get you back on track; He will get you where you need to be—where He wants you to be.

So God hears the prayers of His people when they are in the desert and He leads them out. God’s deliverance is full and complete; every need is abundantly met. But, notice verse 8, because it is significant:

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for humankind.

God’s mercy is not limited to His people, for the Lord has unfailing love for all people and He also acts providentially on behalf of all people. If God loves even those who don’t love Him, how much more His own children?

(b) Prisoners, verses 10—16

Richard Lovelace’s oft-quoted piece of poetry fits well here:

Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage.
Not all prisoners are in a jail. Some people are prisoners of their fears, of their health, of their sin. Note the words the psalmist used: “darkness,” “utter darkness,” “iron chains,” “bitter labor.” All these words describe a life full of despair, bondage, and hopelessness. In the context of this psalm, all these experiences were the result of sin and therefore represented judgment from God.
A horrible price is extracted for disobedience to God. When Israel rebelled against God what did He do? He broke that rebellious spirit, forcing them to live in a strange place, forcing them to endure hard physical labor; when the people couldn’t stand it any longer, they finally humbled themselves and cried out to God.
There’s a great, if not sobering, truth here: If you constantly rebel against God, God will let you go so you can find out what life without Him is like. It’s hard. It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s lonely. Life without God is a life of misery and poverty.
But when these “prisoners” realize the error of their way and cry out to God, God runs to them! God delivered His rebellious children regardless of their rebellious spirit. He will deliver you, too, even when you are overtaken by circumstances of your making. Aren’t you glad God doesn’t stand back and say, “See, I told you so”?
(c ) The sick, verses 17—22
Here is another description of what happens when people stray from the Lord: they become fools. People without God are foolish. They are fools not because they are stupid or idiotic (although, that could be the case sometimes!), it because of their sin! Loving sin will lead you to make wrong and foolish decisions.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)

Loving sin makes you sick. It’s not that all sickness is caused by sinful living, but how many illnessess and afflictions are brought on by sinful behavior? Loving sin makes you choose things that will lead to your destruction:

They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. (verse 18)

Now that’s foolish! Starving yourself; literally preferring to die rather than eat. But that’s what sin does—it makes you do dumb things. And when you’re stuck doing dumb things, only one thing can help you:

He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. (verse 20)

These people realized they were doing dumb things, they asked for help, and what did God do? He gave them His Word. And it was God’s Word that healed them, and it is God’s Word that can heal you, too, if you’ll let it. The Word of God is the sure cure for stupidity!
(d) Lost on the sea, verses 23—32
This very poetic section somewhat parallels the desert wanderers section. The “desert” and the “sea” are great contrasts but they are also extremes. People can get lost in either place. Either place can be dangerous to people. Crossing the desert is perilous, navigating the open seas can also be perilous. In this case, though, the sailors were engaging, not in a sinful activity, but in business. Going about their normal, everyday activity turned into a disastrous situation for these sailors.
These sailors appreciated the works of the Lord when they saw them. So here you have a situation pretty different from the desert experience. Here you have men, sailors, who were not sinning, not wandering around aimlessly forgetting God. They had direction. They had purpose, and they acknowledged God and God’s power, and yet they found themselves is distress. They didn’t despair or lose faith, they cried out to God, and God rescued them.
When God delivered the sailors, they too rejoiced and publicly exalted God. Praising God is the appropriate response when He does something for you.
3. Good reasons for praise, 107:33—42
The underlying theme of these verses is the ability of God to change the impossible. We sometimes forget that God is omnipotent. God is all powerful. Some of us gleefully talk about God speaking the universe into being, doing all sorts of powerful things, yet when it comes to the circumstances in our lives, somehow their too big or too complicated for Him to handle. Do you know what an insult that is to our God? Do you think you are so special that your problems are so different that there is nothing God can do for you? Don’t be foolish! God can change the conditions of anything, and if he can do that he can certainly change your life!

But he lifted the needy out of their affliction and increased their families like flocks. (verse 41)

The “needy,” by the way, does not necessarily refer to poor people. You can have the wealth of Croesus and still be needy if you lack something God can give you. In that sense, we are all “needy” in the eyes of God! When God meets the needs of any believers, all believers ought to rejoice and give thanks:

The upright see and rejoice, but all the wicked shut their mouths. (verse 42)

Two kinds of people see the good things of God in two different ways. For believers, whenever they witness the goodness of God on behalf of themselves or others, rejoice! But the goodness of God will never move an unbeliever; the “shut their mouths” in the face of it.

Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the LORD. (verse 43)

Those who notice the goodness of God will themselves experience that goodness because they will expect to see it. God has given all of us two eyes to observe the world in which we live. What are you looking at?
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2 Responses to “PSALM 107: Learning to See”


  1. 1 goody August 25, 2012 at 3:42 am

    this is my message to be delivered on Sept. 2, 10:11am at NEW LIFE NAIC

  2. 2 Patricia Davis January 2, 2014 at 6:58 am

    I had been praying asking the lord to bring me out of a situation and one night i dream that i was at work and i notice that there were a open bible laying on a table with money laying beside it and there was a young man sitting by that table and i ask him, can i use your bible for a minute? and he said yes. When i pick up the Bible it was turn to 107 psalm and when i woke up i read it and all i could do was cry, The lord didn’t only show me he was getting ready to bring me out of my situation but he also showed me how he was going to do it and all he wanted me to do is praise him for bring me out. Thank u jesus.
    Patricia Davis


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