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Sunday, August 01, 2021

“Consider the Great Love of the LORD” Psalm 107 [Matt's Messages]

“Consider the Great Love of the LORD”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
August 1, 2021 :: Psalm 107

Do you want to be wise?

Not everybody does.

To be wise means to have skill at living.

To be wise means to know the right thing to do and to love the right thing to do in various life situations in our mixed-up broken-down world.

To be good at living life well.

That’s what it means to be wise.

Do you want that?

The very last verse of Psalm 107 explains the purpose of the whole song.

It’s a wisdom psalm meant to make its singers wise.

And the very last verse, verse 43, says, “Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD.”

And that’s our title for today. It’s one sure way to grow in wisdom.

“Consider the Great Love of the LORD.”


V.43 again. “Whoever is wise, let him heed these things [the rest of Psalm 107 up above] and consider the great love of the LORD.”

To “consider” means to attend to something, to understand it, to discern it, to perceive it, to study it.

The wise person ponders, meditates upon, considers the great love of the LORD.

Now, what do you think is the Hebrew word behind “love” there in verse 43? After a year in the Psalms, we’ve seen this word that means steadfast or loyal love again and again and again.

What is it?

Hesed. That’s right.

And here it’s amplified in the Hebrew so the NIV has “great love” of the LORD.

The incredibly wonderful steadfast loyal love of the LORD.

Consider that!

If you want to be wise.

And what is the Hebrew behind the name of the LORD there? It’s capital L-O-R-D. Whenever you see that, you are looking at the covenant name for God in the Old Testament. What is it? Yahweh.

Don’t just think about great love.

Consider the great love of the LORD.

That’s what Psalm 107 does. That’s what it shows us how to do.

And in doing so, as we study it and sing it with our lives, we grow in wisdom.

We don’t know who wrote Psalm 107. It’s anonymous. It is the first psalm in Book Five of the Psalter which is the last major division of the Book of Psalms.

And it’s not just a Wisdom Psalm. It’s a Thanksgiving Psalm.

The psalm kicks off in the very first verse with a call to the people of God to give thanks.

And then it repeats it in verse 8.
And then it repeats it in verse 15.
And then it repeats it in verse 21
And then it repeats it in verse 31.

I might be repeating myself, but have I ever mentioned that the ancient Hebrews loved to repeat themselves?

Well, it’s true. The ancient Hebrews loved to repeat themselves, especially in their poetry, and this is beautiful poetry.

And it’s full to the brim with repetition.

This is repeated thanksgiving.
Repeated thanksgiving.
Repeated thanksgiving.

And I think we can learn from that, can’t we?

Repeated thanksgiving is one key way to consider the great love of the LORD.

And when you do consider the great love of the LORD as a repeated recipient of that  great love, repeated thanksgiving is the only appropriate response.

Let’s get into it. Psalm 107, verse 1.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. [We’ve heard that phrase before. It’s all of the Psalms. Give thanks to the [YHWH] for he is [Hebrew word? [tov]; his [hesed] endures forever. V.2] Let the redeemed of the LORD say this–those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.”

I’ve got four points of application this morning that I want to draw out from each of the points of the compass in this Psalm.

And here’s the first one:

#1. SAY THANK YOU.

Consider the great love of the LORD and then say thank you.

“Let the redeemed of the LORD say this–”

The thank you’s in this song are for God’s great redemption and rescue.

The people who give thanks are “the redeemed.”

That’s the people who have been bought back and brought back by the Lord.

Bought back and brought back by the Lord.

They are the rescued.

It seems from the poetry of this song that it may be about the exiles of Israel whom God was returning to the land.

Remember how at the end of the Books of Kings, the people of Israel and Judah had been conquered and then sent into exile in Assyria and Babylon?

Well, after the Lord’s time of discipline for them was over, He began to return some of them from exile back into the land. Really from every point on the compass.

And it was a great rescue.

Just like the Red Sea Rescue in Exodus, the return from Exile in Ezra and Nehemiah was a wonderful moment in salvation history when God brought His people back.

In fact, return from exile itself is another beautiful picture of what salvation means.

Now next, the psalmist sets out four beautiful pictures of rescue for us to consider.

They are very different, and they are also very alike.

The songwriter paints four different pictures, but he frames them, he frames all four pictures in almost the exact same way.

He repeats himself.

And he repeats himself for emphasis, and so that we see and consider in each picture the great saving love of the LORD.

Now, some people try to figure out in each of these pictures what was the story behind each of these pictures. Like when did this particular part happen? And that’s a good thing to try to discern, because I’m sure the LORD did things like these four rescues in Israel’s history.

But I tend to think that these are poetic storytelling to paint four vivid lyrical pictures of what it’s like when the LORD does His saving thing.

Let me show you what I mean. Let’s look at the first one. It’s in verses 4 through 9.

Each word picture is about a different group of people who were rescued by the LORD. Verse 4.

“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.”

So you see, that could be the wilderness wanderings of the Book of Numbers. It kind of sounds like it. Or it could be those who were in exile, kicked out of the Promised Land, and having trouble finding their way back.

Or it could just be a graphic description of what it feels like to be rescued by the LORD whatever the historical situation.

These folks were, in a word, lost.

But then they cried out to the LORD. Listen for that phrase to be repeated again and again and again and again in Psalm 107. Verse 6.

“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.”

Hooray! They cried out to Yahweh, and he saved them!

He got them into a city, maybe Jerusalem. And He got them settled down.

And make no mistake, it was the LORD that did it!

They were rescued by Yahweh.

And what should they do about it?

Say thank you. V.8

“Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love [hesed] and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”

That’s what He does!

“Consider the great love of the LORD.”

That’s how He operates.

He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

And that’s not all. He also rescues prisoners. Look at verse 10.

“Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. [They deserve this. Notice that they are in a dark prison because of their sinful rebellion. Perhaps this is literal prison. Perhaps it is what Babylon felt like to them. V.12] So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help.”

Do you feel it?

So then what happened?

Verse 13 repeats verse 6.

“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains.”

Woohoo! He rescued them!

Yahweh was the one Who put them in jail in the first place, and now He’s busting them out.

What is the proper response? V.15 repeats verse 8.

“Let them give thanks to the LORD for his [hesed] unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.”

Do you see the pattern?

The people are in trouble. Sometimes, because they deserve it.

But then they cry out to the LORD and He rescues them, and then they should give Him thanks.

Say thank you to the LORD. Say it again. And then say it again.

“Let the redeemed of the LORD say this!”

“Consider the great love of the LORD.”

And say, “Thank you!”

Third picture of rescue. This one is hauntingly sad. Look at verse 17.

“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.” 

These people did not want to be wise.

They were wise in their own eyes. They became fools which in the Bible is a moral category not an intellectual one. They chose wickedness. They chose rebellion. They took their own path. 

And the consequence was sickness and approaching death.

And they had brought it upon themselves.

This was, in the words of one commentator, I read this week, “self-inflicted” harm (Derek Kidner). And today we might think of those who get themselves addicted to drugs (also an insight from Derek Kidner).

Though there are many other ways to do self-damage.

They are many other ways to be so self-absorbed that you bring disaster on your own head.

These people were at the end of life when you don’t care about eating any more and your staring at the gates of death.

But, remember! This is a story of rescue, this is a song of redemption. Verse 19 repeats verse 6 and verse 13.

“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.”

Do you feel it?

They had one foot in the grave, and the LORD raised them to health once again.

Did they deserve it?

No way!

Were they rescued anyway?

Yes, they were.

“Consider the great love of the LORD.”

That’s what the LORD does. That’s Who He is for His people.

And how should His people respond? V.21 (Same as verse 8 and 15.)

“Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.”

Let’s make that application point #2.

#2. SACRIFICE AND SING.

“Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.”

Those are Old Testament pictures of worship. Worship in sacrificial offerings that say, “Thank for saving me, redeeming me, through this blood.”

And worship in singing. “Songs of joy.”

Like this one. Psalm 107 is the kind of song that we should be singing.

Or “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it. Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am. Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Redeemed, redeemed, His child and forever I am.”

Don’t just say, “Thank you.” Sing, “Thank you!”

From your heart.

If you have been redeemed, you should sing.

The fourth and last picture of rescue is the climate opposite of the first one, but it’s still a group of people in desperate trouble. In the first one, they were in the desert. In this one, they are on the Mediterranean Sea. V.23

“Others 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 drunken men; they were at their wits' end.”

Do you feel it?

You’re supposed to feel it.

I don’t know when this might have happened. The Ancient Hebrews were not ancient mariners. They didn’t go to out sea very often.

And the merchants in this song were wishing they had not gone to sea. They weren’t singing shanties. They were holding onto the rails for dear life.

We don’t know if they had done something to deserve it, like Jonah perhaps.

All we know was that they were in trouble, and then...verse 28 repeats verse 19, which repeats verse 13, which repeats verse 6.

“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.”

What a picture of salvation!

Do you feel it?

“Consider the great love of the LORD.”

He rescues the starving lost, the guilty prisoners, the self-damaging, and the desperate at their wits-end.

That’s what He does!

“Consider the great love of the LORD.”

And when you do...verse 31 repeats verse 21 which repeats verse 15 which repeats verse 8.

“Let them give thanks to the LORD for his [hesed] unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.”

Let’s make that application point number three.

#3. SPEAK OUT.

Don’t just say “thank you” God or sing “thank you” to God.

But tell other people about how God has rescued you.

“Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.”

Get it out there in public.

God’s great love is too great to keep to yourself.

To not give your testimony is a crime.

Tell your church and tell your community how the LORD has rescued you.

Who was the last person you told your story of salvation to?

Who is the next person you need to tell?

Because this is what the LORD is like!

He is the God of great reversals.

He is the God of turnarounds and transformations.

He is the God who flips everything upside down when He comes to save His people.

The song ends by reveling in God’s transforming turnaround power. Listen to verse 33.

“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. [That’s a sad story. Like at Sodom and Gomorrah, He turned their beautiful place into an ugly one in His justice. But! Verse 35.] 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. [He’s the God of turnaround and transformations. Verse 37.] 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.”

But then the song turns sad again because Israel rebelled. Verse 39.

“Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled by oppression, calamity and sorrow; he who pours contempt on nobles [that’s God] made them wander in a trackless waste [of exile]. [But I’ll bet that “then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress!” V.41]

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.”

Do you see what the psalmist is doing here?

He’s saying this is what the LORD is like.

And even the wicked in their injustice will one day have to admit it.

The LORD loves to rescue His people in the most dramatic turnaround transformational way.

He redeems them. They are bought back and brought back to Him.

He flips everything right side up again.

Not that they deserve it.
Not that we deserve it.
But because He is so amazingly gracious.

And there is no greater example of the LORD turning everything around from desperate to delivered than what the Lord Jesus did on the Cross.

At the Cross, Jesus leads the lost to a city and satisfies their souls.
At the Cross, Jesus breaks down the gates and brings the prisoners out of the darkness.
At the Cross, Jesus forgives foolish rebellion and heals sin-sick souls and lifts them up from the grave.
At the Cross, Jesus stills the scary sea storm to a whisper and guides His people to a haven of rest.

Have you come to Jesus at the Cross?

If you have not, then the message of this psalm to you is the message of verse 6 and verse 13 and verse 19 and verse 28.

Cry out to the LORD in your deepest trouble, and put your hope in Jesus, and He will bring you out of your deepest distress.

And for all of us who have been rescued like this, the fourth and last application point is for us:

#4. SEE AND REJOICE!

That’s from verse 42.

“The upright (true believers) see [this salvation] and rejoice.”

They don’t miss it. They see it.

In fact, they ponder it and study it and consider it.

Because they know that this will make them wise.

And they want to be wise.

The upright see what kind of gracious turnaround transforming flip-everything-right-side-up rescuing God the LORD is.

And they rejoice.

And they give thanks. Verse 43.

“Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD.”


***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 to Summer 2021

01. Majestic and Mindful - Psalm 8
02. All Our Days - Psalm 90
03. "The LORD on High Is Mighty!" - Psalm 93
04. "The LORD Is My Shepherd" - Psalm 23
05. "Praise the LORD, O My Soul!" - Psalm 103
06. "The Blessing of Aaron's Oily Beard" - Psalm 133
07. "A Dying Thirst for the Living God" - Psalm 42
08. "Our Fortress" - Psalm 46
09. Unrestless - Psalm 131
10. "Sun and Shield" - Psalm 84
11. "With Songs of Joy" - Psalm 126
12. "His Love Endures Forever" - Psalm 136
13. "How Many Are Your Works, O LORD!" - Psalm 104
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise You" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning" - Psalm 30
25. 'The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck" - Psalm 69
26. "Cast Your Cares on the LORD" - Psalm 55
27. "“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?" - Psalm 22
28. "You Will Not Abandon Me To the Grave" - Psalm 16
29. "He Will Rule" - Psalm 72
30. "Taste and See That the LORD is Good" - Psalm 34
31. "Since My Youth" - Psalm 71
32. "Your Statutes Are Wonderful" - Psalm 119
33. "The LORD Our God Is Holy" - Psalm 99
34. "Not To Us, O LORD" - Psalm 115
35. "Blessed" - Psalm 32
36. "Sit At My Right Hand" - Psalm 110
37. "Your Love Is Better Than Life" - Psalm 63
38. "Blessed Is the Man Who Fears the LORD" - Psalm 112
39. "If the LORD Had Not Been On Our Side" - Psalm 124
40. "Shout for Joy to the LORD, All the Earth" - Psalm 100
41. "You Have Raised A Banner" - Psalm 60
42. "Unless the LORD Builds the House" - Psalm 124

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