Morning Light – August 19th, 2016

ml_2016Today: [Psalm 107] Does God Hear the Rebellious? Psalm 107 answers the question as to whether or not God hears us in times of difficulty. When we suffer and go through hard times very often they are of our own making. We often contribute by our actions to our difficult circumstances due to lack of wisdom and even outright transgression. Christian theology will suggest that God will not hear us when we create our own hellish circumstance. That is not the promise of God in Psalm 107. He promises that when we suffer – even of our own making God will hear us and deliver us.
[Psa 107:1-43 KJV] 1 O give thanks unto the LORD, for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever. 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say [so], whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; 3 And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south. 4 They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. 5 Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. 6 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, [and] he delivered them out of their distresses. 7 And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation. 8 Oh that [men] would praise the LORD [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men! 9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. 10 Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, [being] bound in affliction and iron; 11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: 12 Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and [there was] none to help. 13 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, [and] he saved them out of their distresses. 14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.
Psalm 107 when you study it intensely will be found to include 7 distinct sections – one building in theme upon another. As Psalm 106 it is a historical psalm referencing the faithfulness of God contrasted by the disobedience of His people. The author is not mentioned but it is thought to have been written 1000 years before Christ and very possibly by king David himself as are many of the psalms in the book of Psalms.
In verses 2-3 there is mention of gathering the redeemed from the north, south, east and west. This is thought to speak of not just the Israelites being united under David but of all the nations including the gentile becoming a part of the kingdom of God in Christ. The first parts of the psalm address those that wander lost in the desert and also those that find themselves in great darkness, surrounded by evil. There is a promise of deliverance and salvation from all distresses.
Verse 6 is a theme repeated through the psalms. “They cried unto the Lord in their trouble and He delivered them from their distresses.” There is no mention of those that are struggling being required to exercise some sense of religious performance before God would hear them. The transaction is simple: they are in trouble – God will deliver, WHEN they cry out to Him. It is important to see the mercy of God and the graciousness of God. It is also important to understand that if God hears you and respond with unconditional grace, then we should not take the fact that He does hear us as an indication of His stamp of approval on our lives.
What can be said of the man or woman for whom God answers prayers? Does this mean they are particularly spiritual? Not necessarily. Verse 11 describes those in darkness as rebelling against God and condemning all His counsel to them. Yes in verse 13 they cried unto the Lord in their trouble and He delivered them from all their distresses. Thus we see that God will answer when we cry to Him – but that doesn’t mean there are not issues in our lives that would disqualify us and condemn us if it were not for God’s unconditional clemency toward His people. Therefore answered prayer, deliverance and subsequent testimony say nothing at all about US but everything about God and His everlasting kindness toward us even in times of disobedience.
15 Oh that [men] would praise the LORD [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men! 16 For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder. 17 Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. 18 Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death. 19 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, [and] he saveth them out of their distresses. 20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered [them] from their destructions. 21 Oh that [men] would praise the LORD [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men! 22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. 23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; 24 These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. 25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. 26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. 27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. 29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. 30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
Verse 17 tells us that fools because of their transgression and because of their iniquities are afflicted. In Christian theology suffering and difficulty are often blamed on God who supposedly wishes us to suffering because we are so godly. I have often heard people say they are going through something because “God knows” they can “handle it”. This is not what Psalm 107:17 says. Verse 17 says that affliction arises because of foolish decisions and undealt with transgression. Whether we are suffering or not we must make a decision to live in transparency and honesty before God. The fact of the matter is that much, if not most of human affliction arises from personal transgression. The balance most certainly originates in the fact that we live in a fallen world and are often exposed to threats and difficulty because of it. Nowhere is there mention that God is putting us through such things. In fact verse 19 repeats the theme of the psalm “they cry unto the Lord in their trouble and He delivers them out of their distresses”.
Notice the simplicity of the transaction. 1.) They cry to the Lord. 2.) He delivers them from their distress. Often we approach God without being assured of an answer this directly. We think that we might cry unto the Lord and we don’t know if He will answer or not. This uncertainty arises from Christian theology that suggests that God will not often answer prayer – or that He will answer pray in such a way that we will not be relieved from our problem. This chapter in Psalms repudiates this time and again. No matter what you are going through – even if you brought the problem on yourself, if you cry to the Lord He will answer.
31 Oh that [men] would praise the LORD [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men! 32 Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders. 33 He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; 34 A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. 35 He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings. 36 And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; 37 And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase. 38 He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease. 39 Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow. 40 He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, [where there is] no way. 41 Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh [him] families like a flock. 42 The righteous shall see [it], and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. 43 Whoso [is] wise, and will observe these [things], even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.
Verse 43 tells us that this psalm is all about giving an understanding of the lovingkindness of God. Verse 38 tells us that God’s heart is to multiply us greatly and not to allow us even in our natural substance to be decreased but rather increased greatly. Verse 41 says that He will set the poor on high far beyond affliction and thus stop the mouths of those that foolishly accuse God of being the originator of human suffering. Why do people suffer? First and foremost because we live in a fallen world, condemned by the choices of Adam and Eve our first parents. Many times to do suffer in fact because of transgression and even outright sin in our own lives. Yet the promise of God could not be simpler – if we cry unto Him He will answer and deliver us out of all our troubles.

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