Psalm 107

praise In the process of doing my preparatory study for a sermon on Psalm 107, I discovered a structure that runs throughout the entire Psalm.

It looks like this:

Psalm 107

Situation

Cry to God

God’s Response

Summons to Give Thanks for Hesed

Result

I. Deliverance

4 Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to a city to dwell in;
5 hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.

 

6 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.

7 He led them by a straight way
till they reached a city to dwell in.

8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!

9 For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

 

II. Freeing the Prisoner

10 Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
prisoners in affliction and in irons,
11 for they had rebelled against the words of God,
and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
12 So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;
they fell down, with none to help.

 

13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.

14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and burst their bonds apart.

15 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!

16 For he shatters the doors of bronze
and cuts in two the bars of iron.

 

III. Healing and Forgiveness

17 Some were fools through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
18 they loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.

19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.

20 He sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from their destruction.

21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!

22 And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!


 

IV. Salvation from the Storm

23 Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
24 they saw the deeds of the Lord,
his wondrous works in the deep.
25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.

28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.

29 He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.

31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!

32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

 

I find the structure interesting. What I plan to do is explore the structure at two levels. The first level is the original setting. Most commentaries see this as post-exilic, which it could be, but that could also reflect the presuppositions of the commentator.  I seems, at first blush, that it is a reflection of God’s interaction with his people, from the Exodus to the Exile.

The second level I would explore is the significance of this structure. Is it meant to be a reminder and a call for people to thank God with praise and thanks giving? A reminder for people to call out to God for help, and then to acknowledge his help? Or is it just a formula, similar to the cycles in Judges, to recount God faithfulness, based on his covenant love?

Anyone have any ideas?

I’ll let you know what I come up with.

Technorati Tags: Psalms,worship,spiritual formation

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