Psalm 107 begins with words of thanksgiving to the LORD, “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.” The psalm gives us five pictures of God’s goodness and mercy in action, which generate this call to thanksgiving: vivid pictures of redemption. These help us to better understand how God works in redemption, how we need redemption in our lives, and, when we have experienced these truths, how to give thanks to God for His goodness and mercy.
The first scene is that of the wanderer. Let’s fill in the picture for a moment. He is a man in the iron grip of his enemy. He has wandered willingly beyond a “No Trespassing” sign. The enemy has taken him and holds him firmly in his clutches. But all is not hopeless: in the next scene of this wanderer the chains are supernaturally shattered. They lie broken on the floor, useless in the face of sovereign, divine power. The Strong Man marches in and breaks the chains and puts them on Himself. This is God’s grace; it is able to break the chains of sin and Satan. If those chains no longer bind you, you can confess, “Whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.”
The scene shifts from chains and bondage to foreign lands. Harsh forces have displaced the wanderer and forced him out of his own native country, into the wastelands of foreign cultures. Does this remind you of the Babylonian exile? It should. This is the effect of sin—displacement from the land and place of promise. But the wanderers are being gathered. They are brought back and restored to their land and place of promise. The One who left His native country of heaven entered the hostile lands of humanity. He comes to restore wanderers to the land of promise. This is divine redemption from the LORD alone.
“You and I are this wanderer outside of Christ.”
The wanderer is also found in the desert. There he meets the waste-howling winds and shifting sands of uncertainty. He faces the harsh and hot sun. There is no city, and the only city he finds is a mirage that disappears as he crests the next hill. There is such discouragement in the heart of this wanderer as he finds nothing but a mirage and nothing to eat or drink. His tongue is parched, his belly shrivels, and his spirit becomes weak and faint. But listen to the words that follow. As he stumbles along, discouraged, parched, and hungry, an intervention occurs. He is able to croak out a cry in his distress and the Lord hears that cry. He sends One who entered the waste-howling wilderness, challenging and triumphing over the powers of darkness. He was parched and overcome with weariness and sorrow to lead wanderers out of the desert and wastelands of sin. He gives them Himself to nourish and sustain them, and brings them back to the path that He has blazed to the City that is their final refuge.
You and I are this wanderer outside of Christ. We wander willingly into the enemy’s territory and the enemy’s grasp. Sin pushes us away from God. We wander directionless in the wilderness of this world, from mirage to mirage, and only when we find bitter disappointment in sin do we cry out to God. But thanks be to God, He sends redemption. He delivers from the hand of the enemy. He brings back from foreign lands and far countries. He hears and leads through the desert to an eternal city. Do you know the twin truths of being a wanderer and yet redeemed? Then heed the refrain from verse 8 and sing it with heart and soul, “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” Are you still just a wanderer? Cry out to the Lord, who hears and redeems, and then sing this refrain of redemption.
(Read Part 2: The Prisoner here)
This article originally appeared in the Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, March/April 2017. Posted here with permission.