I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 107
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
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.
He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things (NIV).
This psalm is different. It’s unique among the 150 psalms in the Bible because it presents us with various vignettes of redemption—brief stories or scenes where the LORD rains down his mercy and rescues the wayward and downtrodden.
In verse two the psalmist declares, “Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story.” Then as the psalm progresses, he goes on to describe five scenes or stories of redemption. The desert-stranded traveler is rescued; the prisoner is set free, the rebellious are brought healing and encouragement, those lost in a storm-tossed sea find a safe harbor, and prosperity returns to the inhabitants of a parched wasteland. In every situation, the great God of heaven hears the cries of His people and shows them His plenteous mercy.
What a good God we serve! With the psalmist we exclaim, “His love endures forever!”
If you are a follower of Jesus, you too have a story of redemption to tell. He rescued you from a downward hellish spiral just as real as those described in this psalm. Some rescues come in the nick of time; others come early on, before we sink neck-deep into trouble. We might call them preemptive rescues. Whatever your personal story, it’s a testimony worth telling. God intervened in your life, and the good news is He stands ready to intervene again at the very moment you cry out to Him.
He loves to redeem His people. It’s in His nature. Spiritually, are you in a desert place? Call out to Him.
Response: Father God, I am thankful that I have a story of redemption. You intervened in my life. Today I thank you for satisfying my thirst and filling my life with good things. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you have a story of redemption to tell? Was it pre-emptive or in the nick of time?
Reading: Psalm 106
Therefore the LORD was angry with his people
and abhorred his inheritance.
He gave them into the hands of the nations,
and their foes ruled over them.
Their enemies oppressed them
and subjected them to their power.
Many times he delivered them,
but they were bent on rebellion
and they wasted away in their sin.
Yet he took note of their distress when he heard their cry;
for their sake he remembered his covenant
and out of his great love he relented.
He caused all who held them captive to show them mercy.
Save us, LORD our God, and gather us from the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the LORD (NIV).
Have you ever tried to drive in a crooked nail? You are asking for trouble if you make the attempt. If the nail has even a slight bend in it, it will either buckle or be misdirected as it enters the wood. Over the years I have hammered home a lot of nails. And only straight nails stay true.
Today’s final reading from Psalm 106 reminds me of bent nails. The psalmist laments the corrupt ways of the nation of Israel despite the LORD’s mercy and patience. Many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin.
Many people are like bent nails. Despite many blows—many hard knocks—they refuse to run true. They are bent on rebellion and they waste away in their sin. Their troubles are self-inflicted, but rather than acknowledge their errors, they blame God or others for their circumstances. Repentance or self-correction never enters their mind.
But… But God remains merciful. Yet he took note of their distress when he heard their cry; for their sake he remembered his covenant and out of his great love he relented.
Why would God have mercy on bent nails? Maybe it has something to do with the bent nails that held Jesus, His son, in place on a wooden cross. That’s where mercy flowed down over this bent nail—this flawed human. Oh, what love He showed!
Response: Father God, I give up on understanding your mercy and grace. It’s beyond comprehension. Thank you for loving me despite my sinful bent. Your love is amazing. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Is rebellion part of your nature? Can we self-correct or do we need God’s help?
Reading: Psalm 78
Yet he gave a command to the skies above
and opened the doors of the heavens;
he rained down manna for the people to eat,
he gave them the grain of heaven.
Human beings ate the bread of angels;
he sent them all the food they could eat.
He let loose the east wind from the heavens
and by his power made the south wind blow.
He rained meat down on them like dust,
birds like sand on the seashore.
He made them come down inside their camp,
all around their tents.
They ate till they were gorged—
he had given them what they craved.
But before they turned from what they craved,
even while the food was still in their mouths,
God’s anger rose against them;
he put to death the sturdiest among them,
cutting down the young men of Israel (NIV).
Several years ago I received some wise counsel from a pastor. He said, “Be careful what you pray for. You may get what you want. And that’s not always a good thing.”
What happens when we get exactly what we want? For the answer to that question we should consult with million-dollar lottery winners. Obviously, they got what they wanted when they bought their lottery ticket. Sociologists who do long-term studies on lottery winners will tell you that in some cases winning the “big one” ends in disaster. Some people have managed to fritter away millions in a perpetual party lifestyle that leaves them physically broken and bankrupt in less than five years. Others have maintained their wealth and their health, but they have become socially isolated with family relationships in ruins. Getting what we want doesn’t and more than we need doesn’t always end well.
In today’s reading from Psalm 78, we learn that despite Israel’s rebellious ways, God gave the people exactly what they wanted and more than they needed. Human beings ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat.
The greatest temptation we face may not be denying God in the face of poverty, but rather neglecting Him in the midst of wealth. When God gives us the wealth we want, the end result may be the impoverishment of our spirit. Be careful what you pray.
Response: LORD God, help me to find my contentment in you and not in the abundance of my possessions. If your blessings come, help me to be a wise and generous manager that seeks first the Kingdom of God. Amen.
Your Turn: Have your answered prayers led to regrets later on?
Reading: Psalm 78
But they continued to sin against him,
rebelling in the wilderness against the Most High.
They willfully put God to the test
by demanding the food they craved.
They spoke against God;
they said, “Can God really
spread a table in the wilderness?
True, he struck the rock,
and water gushed out,
streams flowed abundantly,
but can he also give us bread?
Can he supply meat for his people?”
When the Lord heard them, he was furious;
his fire broke out against Jacob,
and his wrath rose against Israel,
for they did not believe in God
or trust in his deliverance (NIV).
Psalm 78 is largely an indictment against the people of Israel for their lack of faith and their rebellious ways. As the psalmist says, “They willfully put God to the test.”
As a child I recall reading the entire book of Exodus and thinking to myself, “Wow, these people sure are dumb. How could they see God’s amazing miracles and then a few days later grumble, complain and doubt that the LORD would help them? These people are real losers!”
Then I grew up and had a family of my own. At times I saw amazing miracles and God’s supernatural provision. But guess what? When the next big difficulty arose, I found myself doubting that God would come through. I complained about the difficulty I was in and acted just like the people of Israel in the wilderness.
Oops! I thought I was different. I thought I was smarter than those spiritual dullards in the Old Testament. In reality my grownup faith was much weaker than my childhood faith. When real testing and temptation came, I was and still am, as susceptible to unbelief as any of the wandering Israelites in the wilderness. Faith is a gift from God—a wonder-filled gift that carries us through the hard times.
The indictment against Israel is that they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. Do I truly believe in God and trust in his deliverance? Is my faith more than a creedal statement? Does it have legs and wings to carry me through the toughest situation? Often I am more like the rebellious children of Israel than I would like to admit. How about you?
Response: LORD God, I humbly ask you for the gift of faith—faith to sustain me through the tough times ahead. You are my help, my salvation and my deliverer. I praise you for your faithfulness. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you have grown-up faith or childlike faith? Which is better?