O give thanks unto the LORD,
for He is good:
for His mercy endures forever.
Whoso is wise, and will observe these things,
even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the LORD.
The end caps of this marvelous psalm clearly express the psalmist’s heart. The word mercy here is not as we would think of it, “favor shown to the guilty,” but it is a much broader term which simply means, in general terms, “kindness, goodness, benignity.” The Lord is good. Period. Not because we deserve His special favor, but because it is impossible for Him to be anything but good. Whoever is wise, and will observe these things, will come to understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.
Psalm 107 neatly divides into five sections: God is good to (1) the redeemed, (2) the imprisoned, (3) the foolish, (4) the mariners, and (5) the hungry. I find it interesting that some of these people groups are defined by their circumstances. You might say they are characterized by what has been done to them. And then there are others, such as the foolish, who are characterized by what they have chosen to do—and they have chosen poorly. Yet even they are recipients of the Lord’s mercy. This is the premise of Psalm 107, that God is no respecter of persons.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so….
Here the psalmist speaks of a people who were oppressed by the enemy, they were hungry and thirsty, and they were separated from their loved ones and their beloved homeland.
Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and God heard them. He delivered them out of the hand of the oppressor and brought them back into their land. Why? Because God is good.
Psalm 107:8-9 Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.
Such as sit in darkness… because they rebelled against… God….
This second group are prisoners. They were not imprisoned for their faith, as were Paul and Silas, but for their rebellion against God. They deserved their punishment, and they knew it. Yet even they were delivered when they called upon God. Why? Because God is good.
Psalm 107:15-16 Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He has broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron asunder.
Fools… because of their iniquities, are afflicted….
This is all of us, folks. We all go our own way. We all make wrong choices every day. And we suffer the consequences. Instead of asking, “Why do bad things happen to good people,” we should be asking, “Why do good things happen to bad people?” We are all bad to the core. There are no “good” people. If we compare ourselves to one another, some will look better than others; but our standard is God Almighty, and no one measures up to Him. Even so, when we cry out to the Lord for help, He hears us. Why? Because God is good.
Psalm 107:21-22 Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.
They that go down to the sea in ships…
I have spent precious little time on the water, but both my husband and father were sailors. Men have learned to predict the weather, but they will never be able to control it. And while there is nothing more serene than a smooth sea, there is nothing more frightening than a raging one.
Psalm 107:31-32 Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them exalt Him also in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders.
He turns rivers into a wilderness… He turns the wilderness into a standing water….
God does whatever is necessary, for blessing or for cursing, to draw us unto Himself. He can dry up the rivers and create a desert out of an oasis; or He can create an oasis in the midst of a desert. God works according to the need of the heart of men. The lowly are lifted up, and the mighty are brought down. As I said before, God is no respecter of persons. The trouble with princes (v.40) is that too often they have such a high view of themselves that they cannot see their need for God. God does not bring down the mighty man out of spite, but out of love, to show him that he needs God as much as does the lowly man. In God’s eyes, all men are equal.
Psalm 107:42-43 The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.
This final chorus is different from all the rest. Now we have come to the conclusion of the psalm. The psalmist no longer pleads for men to praise the Lord for His goodness, but he expects that they will. Why? For their understanding of God’s loving-kindness has been broadened.
How about you? Do you have a new perspective on the mercy and goodness of God? Turn to Psalm 107 in your Bible, read the entire passage, and ask God to show Himself to you.
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Photo taken in Brevard, NC, 2017