Theme: Homeless Wandering
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
Charles Spurgeon wrote that the theme of the psalm is “thanksgiving and the motives for it.”1 That is well said, for thanksgiving is the note struck in the opening verses (vv. 1-3) as well as in the refrain of verses 8-9, 15-16, 21-22 and 31-32.
This should cause us to begin with a probing, personal question, namely, Am I among the redeemed? Am I one who has been delivered from sin and so been gathered from my aimless secular wanderings to be a part of God’s well-loved, well-grounded and well-established covenant people? If you have been redeemed from your sin by the death of Jesus Christ, you should thank God for your deliverance and tell others that God is indeed “good” and that “his love endures forever,” as the psalm says. This is its first, opening lesson. You should remember that, according to the first chapter of Romans, it is a mark of the unregenerate that “they neither [glorify God] as God nor [give] thanks to him” (v. 21).
The main body of Psalm 107 is in verses 4-32, which themselves fall into four clearly marked sections. Each is a poetic picture of some deadly peril common to mankind but from which God regularly delivers his people. These pictures may be images for the Babylonian captivity or possibly even literal descriptions of the conditions from which the Jews of that time were rescued. But they also picture our own spiritual condition apart from Jesus Christ. In each of these sections, after describing our peril and God’s deliverance, the psalmist reminds us how much we should be thankful.
Homelessness or perhaps just being lost in the wilderness is the first example (vv. 4-9). It is described in touching tones: “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. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.”
It is easy to understand why this would have appealed to our Pilgrim fathers as describing their experiences. These poor people had been driven from their homes and were virtually hounded from place to place, at one time escaping England for Amsterdam in the Low Countries, until at last they set sail for the American continent. According to William Bradford, they “were hunted and persecuted on every side….Some were taken and clapped up in prison, others had their houses beset and watched night and day, and hardly escaped their [enemies’] hands; and the most were fain [constrained] to flee and leave their houses and habitations, and the means of their livelihood.”2
These were the problems they faced in the early 1600s. So when they finally came to America and were settled in their own homes from 1620 on, however rustic these rude shelters may have been, the Pilgrims felt enormous gratitude to God. As the psalmist says, “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way.”
1C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 2b, Psalms 88-110 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 398.
2William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 (New York: The Modern Library, 1952), p. 10.
What does Spurgeon say is the theme of this psalm?
Name the first peril described in this psalm. How did it apply to the Pilgrims? How could that describe your spiritual condition?
How is the main body of the psalm divided? What overall theme do the sections represent?
Reflection: Do you share in the thanksgiving displayed in this psalm? For what are you thankful? How do you show it?
Application: Do you feel as if in some way you are in the wilderness? What do you believe the Lord is teaching you? Are you thanking him for it and trying to honor him? What promises from God’s Word are you clinging to as you await your deliverance?