|"Redemption" is often described as a bridge over the|
gulf separating a sinful man and a holy God. The
"bridge" is Christ's death on the cross for our sins.
A doctor’s mistake blinded her in infancy, but Fanny Crosby grew up determined to live well in spite of her disability. Besides being a teacher to the blind, she distinguished herself as a poet and lyricist. From her spiritual depth and a phenomenal memory came nearly a thousand hymn lyrics, many still sung today. One was “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!” It beings: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.
This hymn’s key word, “redeemed,” brings to mind the key verses of Psalm 107:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say this—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe…. (vv. 1-2a)
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. (vv. 8, 15, 21, 31)
Reading Psalm 107 as “Lessons for the Redeemed” helps open up its lessons. It was probably written after a Jewish remnant returned to
after 70 years in captivity, about 400 years before the birth of Christ. They
were “redeemed” from humiliating exile (“the hand of the foe,” v. 2), with some
returning to their homeland. This psalm consists of four pictures of people
experiencing loss (home, freedom, health, courage), all followed by a reminder
to praise God. A fifth picture exalts God’s power through nature to bless or
PICTURE #1: WANDERERS (vv. 4-9)Think of the changes seventy years can bring. For us, that would go back to 1944 and World War 2. Then put yourself in ancient times, well over a thousand miles from your homeland, your feet and maybe a donkey your only transportation through desert wastelands. Would you be able to find your way back? Would you have the strength to make it? This section pictures the refugees on a long, arduous journey from
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart; Lord, take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.
PICTURE #2: PRISONERS (VV. 10-16)
When carted off to
Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eyes diffused a quickening ray, I woke, the dungeon flamed with light:
My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee!
Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!
PICTURE #3: THE AFFLICTED (VV. 17-22)“Rebellious ways” led to serious illness for those mentioned in this stanza. Food had no appeal to them, and they nearly died. In our times, it could match the severely depressed, drug addicts and anorectics, who eat poorly, if at all. It could also embrace the “sin-sickness” (unbelief, hatred, rebellion) that keeps the afflicted from seeking the healing forgiveness of Christ. We need to remember that Christ’s ministry on earth included healing the diseased and the sin-sick souls: “He Himself took on our infirmities and bore our sicknesses” (Matt. 8:17). He still stands ready to heal the spirits of those who turn from their rebellion and seek Him.
PICTURE #4: THE STORM-TOSSED (VV. 23-32)The Jews were not known as sea-faring people, yet the Bible includes many stories of great sea storms. Jonah (tossed overboard to the throat of a whale) was one. The apostle Paul’s shipwreck in the
My soul in sad exile was out on life’s sea,
So burdened with sin and distressed,
Till I heard a sweet voice, saying, “Make Me your choice”;
And I entered the “Haven of Rest.”
PICTURE #5: GOD’S POWER AND WISDOMRather than describing the suffering, the psalm’s fifth picture is of God who is wise and powerful. He can allow sin to have its consequences: rivers turning to deserts, springs to dry ground, fruitful land to salt wastes. He can reverse that, too. Some say this stanza pictures the Millennium, when the wasted, wounded earth will enjoy fruitfulness and vigor under Christ’s perfect rule. It also pictures life now, when good people suffer. Because we live in a fallen world, we cannot expect perfect, carefree lives. But suffering can have a positive consequence by strengthening our spiritual character, if we allow those hard times to press us closer to God’s heart. The opposite is also true: those who turn their suffering into complaints and bitterness will distance themselves from God. Thus the psalm ends:
Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the LORD. (v. 43)
In His great wisdom, God can bring good out of all the calamities sketched with broad strokes in Psalm 107. If you’ve lost your way, freedom, health, or courage, He waits to help—as your Redeemer.
Next: Psalm 116