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Psalm 107 shows God’s cure for believers in hopeless situations. Those whom God has redeemed from every nation need to thank him for his goodness and never-ending loving-kindness.
Four hopeless situations are described. The first was travelers in a wilderness who had lost their way, unable to find a city and desperately weak without adequate nourishment. When they cried out to God in prayer, he led them by the right way to a city where they could be filled and satisfied.
The second situation was people in prison, living in darkness and facing imminent death, bound in chains and in misery because they had rebelled against God’s words and despised his counsel. God allowed them to be subjected to forced labor where they stumbled and found no help. When they cried to him in their trouble, he saved them from their distress, brought them out of their dark cells, and broke apart their chains. There have never been bronze gates or iron bars too strong for God to break.
Next, foolish people experienced sickness because they had rebelled and sinned against God. They had become too sick even to eat, and were about to die, but when they cried out to God, he healed them, so that later they could offer him sacrifices of thanksgiving (which included fellowship meals), and joyfully declare His works.
Lastly, seafaring sailors found themselves in a terrible storm. They had seen God’s wonders in the ocean and knew He was the commander of a storm’s terrifying wind. As their ship plunged up and down in the mighty waves, their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered on the ship’s deck and were “at their wit’s end.” But when they cried to God, he brought them out of their distress, calming the storm so that the sea’s waves became still. He then brought them peacefully to their desired port.
When God answers men’s desperate prayers, they ought to thank him for his loving-kindness and wonderful works, and lift up their voices to exalt and praise him publicly in their congregations.
The rest of the psalm describes God’s control over all of life, including nature and history. If people practice wickedness, God can cause their land to become barren. God also can transform a barren land into a fruitful one where hungry people prosper. When people face oppression, misery, and sorrow, God can pour contempt on their leaders, causing them to lose their way. God can lift poor people out of affliction, and make families multiply like sheep. Righteous people will see these things and rejoice, but unrighteous people will fall silent. Wise people should pay attention to these things, and consider God’s loving-kindness.
The cure for hopelessness is fervent prayer to our all-knowing and all-powerful and loving God, recognizing that he is in control of every circumstance of our lives. Many people have come to believe in Christ in the midst of a hopeless situation, and once saved they come to realize that they can pray to him in every new challenge they face.
“Casting all your care upon Him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Bob Lanning is pastor of Cornerstone Bible Church