Psalm 107

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,
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.

Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.

Some became fools through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
They loathed all food
and drew near the gates of death.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
Let them sacrifice thank offerings
and tell of his works with songs of joy.

Some went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the Lord,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders.

He turned rivers into a desert,
flowing springs into thirsty ground,
and fruitful land into a salt waste,
because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
He turned the desert into pools of water
and the parched ground into flowing springs;
there he brought the hungry to live,
and they founded a city where they could settle.
They sowed fields and planted vineyards
that yielded a fruitful harvest;
he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
and he did not let their herds diminish.
Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled
by oppression, calamity and sorrow;
he who pours contempt on nobles
made them wander in a trackless waste.
But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
and increased their families like flocks.
The upright see and rejoice,
but all the wicked shut their mouths.

Let the one who is wise heed these things
and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.

This psalm lies close to my heart. Each story of God’s grace and mercy resounds in my heart as my own story. As one seeking rest, as one trapped in chains, as one deep in my own rebellion and as one trusting in The Lord. The circumstance do not change God’s nature.

I agree with the psalmist. “Let the one who is wise heed these things
and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.”.

Righteous Anger & Boundless Mercy

The Lord was furious with Israel and handed them over to robbers who plundered them. He turned them over to their enemies who lived around them. They could not withstand their enemies attacks. Whenever they went out to fight, the Lord did them harm, just as he had warned and solemnly vowed he would do. They suffered greatly.
The Lord raised up leaders who delivered them from these robbers. But they did not obey their leaders. Instead they prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned aside from the path their ancestors had walked. Their ancestors had obeyed the Lord’s commands, but they did not. When the Lord raised up leaders for them, the Lord was with each leader and delivered the people from their enemies while the leader remained alive. The Lord felt sorry for them when they cried out in agony because of what their harsh oppressors did to them. When a leader died, the next generation would again act more wickedly than the previous one. They would follow after other gods, worshiping them and bowing down to them. They did not give up their practices or their stubborn ways.
Judges 2:14-19 (NET)

There are 5 main characters in this passage that describes the monotonous cycle of disobedience, punishment, mercy and disobedience again:

God: Our God is full of brilliant contradictions. He is a righteous God and surely He punishes for our transgressions (Joshua 24:19), yet He is merciful and is compassionate towards us. Again and again, He provides for a leader (judge) to lead the people back to Him and free them from their oppressors. He had provided ample warning to the Israelites so that they would do the right thing when they went into the promised land (Joshua 23:5-8, 11-16).

Ancestors: The previous generation saw the Lord’s hand work mightily through miracles and wonders (Joshua 10:12-14). They were led by Joshua in the mighty victory over the giant Caananites (Joshua 6:20-21) and began occupying the promised land. They lived in obedience to God (Joshua 24:31) and annihilated all the nations that God called them to wipe out (Joshua 11:12-15).

Leader/Judge: God raises a judge from the current wicked generation to redeem them. Not because of the righteousness of the judge, but because of His compassion. The Lord was with the leader and He used the leader to free the Israelites from oppression.

Next generation: They turned away from God and followed other Gods. They received the punishment for their sin through oppression from their enemies. God allowed their enemies to overpower them as their punishment and they suffered greatly. They could not bring themselves out of oppression. They would follow the God’s leader out of enemy oppression but would not follow the God behind the leader. Once the leader died, they went back to their wicked ways.

Oppressors: These were the nations around the Israelites including those who were still on lands that God had given to them (Joshua 13:2-6).

Isn’t this a picture of Christ our saviour?

In our sin, we are like the next generation, constantly disobeying His commands and turning to idols. This sin nature oppresses us and causes great suffering and grief. We have no ability within ourselves to save us from sin. It separates us from a perfect and righteous God. Yet, He is compassionate. God sends a leader to bring us out of oppression. This leader is Jesus Christ. This time, the monotonous cycle is broken by the leader. Being fully man, this leader identifies with our sin nature and being fully God, He is the prefect bridge to bring us to the Father. When we follow God’s leader, we follow God himself. He leads us into everlasting victory over the oppressor and lives forever so that we would no longer turn back to our wicked ways.

We no longer live in oppression, but in victory because of Christ. We need not submit ourselves to a monotonous cycle of obedience and disobedience because Christ is fully obedient. Hallelujah!