Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Consider the Steadfast Love of the Lord

Ever notice how Christians tend to emphasize the wrong things and then let it permeate into its subculture?  I was reminded of this while reading Psalm 107.  Verses 2-3 say this:
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so
        whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
        from the east and from the west,
        from the north and from the south.
The first stanza is a popular line, but what does it mean?  The redeemed are to say something, but what about?  If you look at 20th-century music lyrics, the answer is that the redeemed are to proclaim that they are redeemed.  Here are two examples:

Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So       Let The Redeemed
W. C. Martin & John H. Sarchet (1914)Ward Ellis (1978)
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
All my sins are washed away,
And my night is turned to day;
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.
I’m redeemed.  I’m redeemed.
Praise the Lord!

Preachers picked up on this theme and taught it to eager listeners as a slogan to excite evangelism: let people know that Christ has redeemed you and changed your life.  While this is certainly valid, the problem with this popular use is that the psalm has a different emphasis.  The theme of Psalm 107 is found in the first verse:
Oh give thanks the Lord, for he is good,
        for his steadfast love endures forever!
This is the message the redeemed are to proclaim—the Lord’s steadfast love.  The psalmist develops four scenarios in which the Lord provided provided a solution:

Scenario     Solution
Lost in desert places, hungering and thirsting
Imprisoned as a consequence of rebelling against God’s commands
Suffering because of foolish iniquities
Great natural calamity while conducting business
    Lost received a path
    Prisoners received freedom, light, and life
    Foolish received healing and deliverance
    Merchants received peace

Each group, being in great distress, cried to the only One able to meet their need.  This the Lord did faithfully and graciously, demonstrating this love for which all are encouraged to give thanks.  And it is not as if these solutions are supplied through physical means.  Each manifested solution is delivered through God’s word, as explicitly stated in verse 20 and are expected according to promise in Psalm 119:

        Psalm 119:35 – Path
        Psalm 119:105 – Lamp and light
        Psalm 119:28, 95 – Healing and Deliverance
        Psalm 119:165 – Peace

The psalmist summarizes God’s power and ability to move heaven and earth in his people’s favor in blessing the land for abundance (Psa 107:33-38), then in his righteous acts to work for good what sinful man had perpetrated against one another (Psa 107:39-42).  He then ends with a call to carefully consider what the Almighty does and why.
Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;
        let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.  (Psa 107:43)
Only through the working of the word, whether inscrupturated or incarnated, can any of this come to pass.  The promise to which the psalm pointed is now found in Jesus Christ.  He has accomplished all that was required to enlighten, heal, deliver, and give a path with ultimate peace.  Jesus is the ultimate demonstration of Him who is the embodiment of love.

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