Theme: Living Sacrifices
In this week’s lessons, we are reminded of the need to trust the Lord for his deliverance from our struggles, and to praise him for his goodness and mercy.
Scripture: Psalm 107:1-32
In the opinion of many commentators the most beautiful, most poetic and certainly the most stirring section of Psalm 107 is the part that describes the peril of God’s people while at sea (vv. 23-32). Although it was not, it might have been written as a description of that difficult sixty-five day late-fall crossing of the turbulent North Atlantic by the Pilgrim fathers and their families. A person needs to have been on the ocean in a great storm to appreciate how accurate those frightening words from verses 23-32 are.
But forget the ocean. Perhaps you have been in a situation of an entirely different nature but in which you have also been at your wits’ end and cried to the Lord and were delivered. Perhaps you were facing a serious financial problem, a personality conflict at work, or a battle within your family. If you were delivered, listen to what the psalm says: “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his 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.”
There is nothing so becoming the children of God as public acknowledgement of his unmerited favors and unfathomable goodness to them.
In next week’s study of this psalm, we are going to look at its third and last section in which the psalmist makes his own observations on God’s acts. But before we do that, here is the place to go back and consider the refrain that has ended each of the preceding sections dealing with God’s rescue of the homeless, his deliverance of the prisoners, his healing of the sick and his preservation of those who go to sea.
The refrain occurs four times. In each of these occurrences the first two lines are the same—“let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men”—but the next two lines of each refrain vary. In the first two cases there are reasons for giving thanks to God: 1) because God “satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (v. 9); and 2) because “he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron” (v. 16). That is, because of God’s salvation. The last two cases suggest ways we can give God thanks: 1) by offering God “thank offerings” (v. 22); and 2) by exalting “him in the assembly of the people and prais[ing] him in the council of the elders” (v. 32).
That makes everything we have been saving very practical. How can we sacrifice thank offerings to God today? The only possible answer is by offering God ourselves. This is why the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1). Nothing less than the offer of our complete selves is adequate.
Nothing else is demanded. But having done that, we must then also speak about God’s mercies to other people, as the psalm commands.
Describe the final peril described in this psalm.
What does Paul say we should offer God as a thank offering? What does that look like?
Reflection: What frightening situations have you been in? How did you handle them? To whom did you turn for help? What did you learn about the Lord and about yourself?
Review: What is the refrain that has ended each section of the psalm we have covered this week?