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Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22

“O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.”

Psalm 107 is not, on the surface, particularly remarkable.

It is, broadly speaking, a todah, or thanksgiving song. Its author and exact date are unknown, but its narrative structure suggests a post-Exilic setting and perspective. It tells the seemingly familiar story of a God who is big and strong and powerful, and revels in a chosen people’s redemption.

“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, those he redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.”

Psalm 107 is more than just slogans.

Sure, it provided some of the lyrics for your mom’s favorite early ‘80s Christian pop standard “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!” and your older brother’s late ‘90s youth group jam “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.” Truth be told, Psalm 107 slaps a little. But that’s not all. 

“Some were sick through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities endured affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.”

Psalm 107 is the beginning of something completely new.

Mimicking the five-fold divisions of the Torah, Psalm 107 opens the fifth book of the Psalms (107-150), sometimes called the “Songs of Return.” This collection of Psalms at once remembers the Exodus, commemorates the Covenant, acknowledges the Exile, and celebrates the Restoration of God’s people to the Promised Land. And Psalm 107 is the beginning of it all.

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; he sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction.

Psalm 107 is a covenant narrative.

All of the pieces are here: an always-faithful God and often-faithless Israel; a Promised Land and a people scattered to the four winds; deathly consequences and divine redemption. Psalm 107 tells the entire, unexpected story: how God has saved God’s people from almost certain death in a wide variety of ways and places. Indeed, there seems to be nowhere they escape God’s stubborn, prodigal, gracious love.

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices, and tell of his deeds with songs of joy.”

Psalm 107 is the entire Old Testament in a single song.

God offers relationships to God’s people. God insists on loving them despite their weakness and their wanderings. And yet this ancient, steadfast love -the same hesed cited by the Patriarchs and celebrated by Moses, invoked by Naomi and evoked by David- refuses to give up even on those at Death’s very door.

“O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.”

Redemption is real. Restoration is possible. And re-creation begins today.

These are the word of God for the people of God.  Thanks be to God!