A Dire Situation
Apart from God, man gets himself into all sorts of spiritually dangerous and eternity-threatening situations.
Four such situations are described in Psalm 107. We might not immediately find ourselves relating to what we see here, but if we read carefully and with spiritually attuned eyes, we will find much that maps onto our lives.
In each of four successive vignettes the psalmist describes some dire situation (Ps. 107:4, 10, 17, 23). Then, in each one of those scenes, two refrains are repeated exactly word for word: first, "Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress" (vv. 6, 13, 19, 28); second, after an account of God's deliverance, "Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man" (vv. 8, 15, 21, 31). This repeated pattern of distress and deliverance is striking. One cannot miss it. Clearly God wants us to get something here.
A God of Salvation
We need to see that, even though four different scenes are described, they are each speaking of the same fundamental situation. Whether it's aimlessness and isolation (v. 4), or enslavement (v. 10), or condemnation (v. 17), or overwhelming fear (v. 26), the scenes all describe the state of man on his own, separated from God. The obvious message in each case is that there is a desperate need for rescue; and the wonderfully good news is that, in each and every case, God rescues. He saves! The fact that God is a God of salvation resonates and reverberates throughout the Psalms, and that theme is sounded with particular strength in this psalm.
God saves no matter how our spiritual distress manifests itself—whether as alienation, enslavement, condemnation, or fear. God's rescuing love reaches to all situations and in all directions (see v. 2-3). There is no situation, not one, outside the reach of God's rescuing love.
It is no coincidence that the language used by the psalmist here corresponds so completely to the language used by Jesus and by the writers of the New Testament to describe Jesus's saving work. The language of satisfying the hungry (v. 9), delivering from bondage (v. 14), delivering from destruction (v. 20), and providing safety and peace (vv. 29-30) all points unerringly to the salvation Jesus brings.
In light of this amazingly good news, we should happily take the counsel of both the first and the last verses of this psalm and thank God for his steadfast love.
This article by Mike Bullmore is adapted from the ESV Men's Devotional Bible.