Bible Study Teaching on Psalm 107 & 108

On Tuesday July 14th, it was my turn to teach a group of men that gather every Tuesday.  In the past, we gathered at Mimi’s Cafe restaurant, but now, we’re gathering over Skype.  Here is the teaching:

Psalm 107 & 108

Psalm 107

This is the first chapter of Book 5 of the Psalms.  Here are the 5 “books” or “divisions”:

  1. Book 1 (Psalms 1–41)
  2. Book 2 (Psalms 42–72)
  3. Book 3 (Psalms 73–89)
  4. Book 4 (Psalms 90–106)
  5. Book 5 (Psalms 107–150)

As you read this psalm, take notice of the following repeating four-fold pattern of the Israelite’s interaction with God (starting in v4):

  1. They fall away from God – or otherwise get in trouble
  2. They become penitent and they cry out to God
  3. God hears their cry and solves their problem
  4. This results in them praising God

1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary 3 and gathered from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. 4 They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region; they did not find a way to an inhabited city. 5 They were hungry and thirsty; their soul fainted within them.

6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He delivered them out of their distresses. 7 He led them also by a straight way, to go to an inhabited city. 8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men! 9 For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good. 10 There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, Prisoners in misery and chains, 11 because they had rebelled against the words of God and spurned the counsel of the Most High.

12 Therefore He humbled their heart with labor; they stumbled and there was none to help. 13 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. 14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke their bands apart. 15 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men! 16 For He has shattered gates of bronze and cut bars of iron asunder. 17 Fools, because of their rebellious way, And because of their iniquities, were afflicted.

18 Their soul abhorred all kinds of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. 20 He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. 21 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! 22 Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing. 23 Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters; 24 they have seen the works of the LORD, And His wonders in the deep.

25 For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. 26 They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; their soul melted away in their misery. 27 They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses. 29 He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad because they were quiet, So He guided them to their desired haven. 31 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men! 32 Let them extol Him also in the congregation of the people, and praise Him at the seat of the elders.

33 He changes rivers into a wilderness and springs of water into a thirsty ground; 34 A fruitful land into a salt waste, Because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it. 35 He changes a wilderness into a pool of water and a dry land into springs of water; 36 And there He makes the hungry to dwell, So that they may establish an inhabited city, 37 And sow fields and plant vineyards, And gather a fruitful harvest. 38 Also He blesses them and they multiply greatly, and He does not let their cattle decrease.

39 When they are diminished and bowed down through oppression, misery and sorrow, 40 He pours contempt upon princes and makes them wander in a pathless waste. 41 But He sets the needy securely on high away from affliction, and makes his families like a flock. 42 The upright see it and are glad; But all unrighteousness shuts its mouth. 43 Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things, and consider the lovingkindnesses of the LORD. NASB

This is a Psalm of redemption.  Charles Spurgeon commented on the Redeemer and the response of redeemed in light of this psalm:

The Redeemer is so glorious, the ransom price so immense, and the redemption so complete, that they (the redeemed) are under sevenfold obligations to give thanks unto the Lord, and to exhort others to do so.  What gratitude can suffice for a deliverance from the power of sin, death, and hell?… They must be horrible ingrates who will not honour such a deliverer for so happy a rescue from the most cruel death. It is well that the redeemed should be stirred up to bless the Lord again and again, for preserved life deserves lifelong thankfulness.

This psalm contains a repeating a pattern of 4 stages that Israel plays out in their interaction with God:

  1. They fall away from God – or otherwise get in trouble
  2. They become penitent and they cry out to God
  3. God hears their cry and solves their problem
  4. This results in them praising God

Not only is this a pattern of Israel, but this can become a pattern that plays out in the life of a Christian, as he is sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit in his life:

4 times in this Psalm, the following statement is repeated (v8,15,21,31):

Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men!

Before this statement, each time they cry to the LORD (V6,13,19,28):

Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble…

Q: What are some things for which we as Christians might cry out to the LORD?

What were they redeemed from?  The Psalmist paints 4 portraits of the disastrous end of sin in the nation:

  1. Wandering in the desert (v4-5)
  2. Languishing in prison (V10-12)
  3. Enduring sickness (V17-18)
  4. Tossing on a stormy sea (V23-27)

1. Wandering in the desert

4 They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region; they did not find a way to an inhabited city. 5 They were hungry and thirsty; their soul fainted within them.

The Psalmist may be looking back at the desert wanderings of the ungrateful, faithless Israel.  The LORD rebukes them in Numbers on says that they will wander in the wilderness:

Numbers 32:7 “Now why are you discouraging the sons of Israel from crossing over into the land which the LORD has given them? 8 This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. 9 For when they went up to the valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the sons of Israel so that they did not go into the land which the LORD had given them. 10 So the LORD’S anger burned in that day, and He swore, saying,

11 ‘None of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob; for they did not follow Me fully, 12 except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have followed the LORD fully.’” 13 So the LORD’S anger burned against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the entire generation of those who had done evil in the sight of the LORD was destroyed.

What an amazing statement to have said about you by the LORD – that Caleb and Joshua “followed the LORD fully”.  That would be a great tombstone statement:

2. Languishing in prison

10 There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, Prisoners in misery and chains, 11 because they had rebelled against the words of God and spurned the counsel of the Most High. 12 Therefore He humbled their heart with labor; they stumbled and there was none to help.

Possibly the Psalmist thought of the capture and imprisonment of King Zedekiah:

2 Kings 25:4 Then the city was broken into, and all the men of war fled by night by way of the gate between the two walls beside the king’s garden, though the Chaldeans were all around the city. And they went by way of the Arabah. 5 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho and all his army was scattered from him. 6 Then they captured the king and brought him to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and he passed sentence on him. 7 They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, then put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him with bronze fetters and brought him to Babylon.

3. Enduring Sickness

17 Fools, because of their rebellious way, And because of their iniquities, were afflicted. 18 Their soul abhorred all kinds of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.

Possibly the psalmist recalled the mass affliction and subsequent mass healing in Numbers:

Numbers 21:4 Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom ; and the people became impatient because of the journey. 5 The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” 6 The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.

7 So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people. 8 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” 9 And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.

Although Jesus was clear that not all sickness was a direct result of sin:

John 9:1 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Yet there are other places in the Scriptures where sickness does seem to be connected with personal sin.  In the following passage, Jesus first heals a man, then later warns him not to sin any more so that nothing worse happens to him:

John 5:6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” 7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” 9 Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. 10 So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.”

11 But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.’” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk’?” 13 But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.”

Additionally, the Apostle Paul, after passing on the account of the last supper, seems to indicate that some people are sick because of their celebrating the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner (not examining themselves and not recognizing the body of the Lord):

1 Corinthians 11:26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. (NIV)

4. Tossing on a stormy sea

23 Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters; 24 they have seen the works of the LORD, And His wonders in the deep. 25 For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. 26 They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; their soul melted away in their misery. 27 They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits’ end.

Possibly the psalmist had Jonah and the sailors bound for Tarshish in mind:

Jonah 1:1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” 3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. 4 The LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up.

5 Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep. 6 So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.” 7 Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” 9 He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. 11 So they said to him, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm for us?”-for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.” 13 However, the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them. 14 Then they called on the LORD and said, “We earnestly pray, O LORD, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O LORD, have done as You have pleased.” 15 So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.

The following section contrasts God’s blessing in response to man’s obedience with God’s judgment on man’s sin.  The psalmist makes his point with 4 illustrations:

  1. Descending from prosperity to poverty (v 33-34)
  2. Being lifted up from barrenness to blessedness (v 35-38)
  3. Falling from the top to the bottom (v 39-40)
  4. Being elevated from low to high (v 41-42)

33 He changes rivers into a wilderness and springs of water into a thirsty ground; 34 A fruitful land into a salt waste, Because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it. 35 He changes a wilderness into a pool of water and a dry land into springs of water; 36 And there He makes the hungry to dwell, So that they may establish an inhabited city, 37 And sow fields and plant vineyards, And gather a fruitful harvest. 38 Also He blesses them and they multiply greatly, and He does not let their cattle decrease. 39 When they are diminished and bowed down through oppression, misery and sorrow, 40 He pours contempt upon princes and makes them wander in a pathless waste. 41 But He sets the needy securely on high away from affliction, and makes his families like a flock. 42 The upright see it and are glad; But all unrighteousness shuts its mouth. 43 Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things, and consider the lovingkindnesses of the LORD.

Psalm 108

1 My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul. 2 Awake, harp and lyre; I will awaken the dawn! 3 I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the peoples, and I will sing praises to You among the nations. 4 For Your lovingkindness is great above the heavens, and Your truth reaches to the skies. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your glory above all the earth.

6 That Your beloved may be delivered, save with Your right hand, and answer me! 7 God has spoken in His holiness: “I will exult, I will portion out Shechem and measure out the valley of Succoth. 8 Gilead is Mine, Manasseh is Mine; Ephraim also is the helmet of My head; Judah is My scepter. 9 Moab is My washbowl; Over Edom I shall throw My shoe; over Philistia I will shout aloud.

10 Who will bring me into the besieged city? Who will lead me to Edom?” 11 Have not You Yourself, O God, rejected us? And will You not go forth with our armies, O God? 12 Oh give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain. 13 Through God we will do valiantly, and it is He who shall tread down our adversaries.

David combines portions of his own previously written Psalms 57 and 60 to make up this psalm commemorating God’s victories (v1-5 are from 57:7-11; v6-13 are from 60:5-12).  He deleted the laments that began each psalm (57:1-6 and 60:1-4) while combining his own words of exaltation and confidence in God with only slight word variation.  No specific historical occasion behind the psalm is given.  The psalm is broken down into 2 sections:

  1. Personal Exaltation of God (v1-5)
  2. Personal Confidence in God (v6-13)

Q: Regarding the phrase in v1 “My heart is steadfast”, in what ways does this manifest in the life of a Christian?

Q: Regarding the phrase in v12 “deliverance by man is in vain”, in what ways do we seek deliverance by man, when we should be seeking deliverance by God?

Resources used in the preparation of this teaching

  1. MacArthur Study Bible (NASB) notes
  2. I Am Redeemed – 11/20/2018 sermon by Dr. Calvin Ray Evans, President and Director of Evangelistic Outreach Ministries, Boston, OH (https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=112018161628183)
  3. Treasury of David: Spurgeon’s Classic Work on the Psalms (https://www.amazon.com/Treasury-David-Spurgeons-Classic-Psalms/dp/0825436834)

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