GOD THE GLORIOUS Psalms 107–112
“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let Your glory be over all the earth” (Ps. 108:5).Book V begins here. The first six psalms focus on the glories of who God is and what He has done.
Six psalms lead us to praise the Lord as God of Rescue (Ps. 107), God of Victory (Ps. 108), God of Vindication (Ps. 109), God of Messiah’s Triumph (Ps. 110), God of Wonders (Ps. 111), and God of the Good Man (Ps. 112).
Understanding the Text
God of Rescue.
The goodness of God is revealed through His rescue of the redeemed from four symbolic perils: destitution, imprisonment, sickness, and storm. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say this” Ps. 107:1–3. The four perils that follow symbolize the actual experience of Judah during the Captivity. A generation recently restored to the Jews’ ancient homeland could identify with each situation, and realize afresh the wonder of God’s redemption. “Some wandered in desert wastelands” Ps. 107:4–9. The hungry, thirsty, and homeless of Judah cried to the Lord. God redeemed, and with unfailing love led them to a city where they could settle. The pattern seen here is followed in each portrait of redemption. Calamity leaves God’s people in desperate straits. They cry to God. He rescues them. Each calamity and rescue enriches our understanding of redemption, that we might praise God. “Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, prisoners” Ps. 107:10–16. They cried to the Lord, and with unfailing love He cut through the bars of iron. “Some became fools through their rebellious ways” Ps.107:17–22. When they cried to the Lord, with unfailing love He healed their sickness and rescued them from the very brink of death. “Others went out on the sea in ships” Ps. 107:23–32. In great peril from terrible storms they cried to the Lord. With unfailing love He calmed the storm and led them to their desired haven. “Whoever is wise, let him heed” Ps. 107:33–43. The psalm concludes with a vision of God creating a fertile land from the wilderness in which the people might dwell. They rebelled and experienced oppression, but “He lifted the needy out of their affliction.” What does the psalm say to you and me? While the psalm draws on physical perils for its imagery, it symbolized that spiritual peril in which all human beings find themselves. Our God is a God of Rescue, for He redeems us from every danger. Freshly aware of the meaning of redemption, we too “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (v. 1). Psalm 108: God of Victory. David rejoiced, for he was confident that “with God we will gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies.” “My heart is steadfast” Ps. 108:1–5. David began this psalm, which is a prayer for help against Israel’s enemies, with an expression of total confidence in the Lord. David’s very petition was worship, for he knew that “great is Your love” and “Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” What a reminder for us. Our requests too are to be made in complete confidence. Beginning each time of prayer with praise for who God is will help give us the steadfast heart from which David speaks here. “God has spoken” Ps. 108:6–9. God has promised the victory that David now claimed. To toss the sandal represented Israel’s domination of a humbled and submissive Moab. David, even before the battle, so relied on the covenant commitment of God to be with Israel’s armies, that he spoke as if the victories were already won. Has God made promises to us? If so, the answer to our prayer is as sure as if it were already given. “With God we will gain the victory” Ps. 108:10–13. Underline each “will” of verse 13 in your Bible. And remember to pray with David—like confidence in God. Psalm 109: God of Vindication. God will vindicate the righteous and punish their accusers. “Wicked and deceitful men” Ps. 109:1–31. Jesus tells us to pray for those who mistreat us and do good to our enemies. How does a psalm like this one, in which David pleaded with God to punish the wicked who oppressed him, fit with Jesus’ contrasting emphasis? We can hardly dismiss the imprecatory psalms by saying that in old times people were vindictive, or by contrasting the “God of the Old Testament” with the “God of Jesus.” The fact is that both Testaments portray God as One who vindicates His own and punishes the wicked. Jesus often warned His listeners of eternal punishment, and 2 Thessalonians 1:6–7 says, “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled.” Yes, today you and I are to emphasize the grace of God, and display that grace in every dealing with others. But let’s not forget that God is a God of justice as well as grace. The anger and antagonism David expressed toward the wicked who torment the righteous are but a dim reflection of the wrath God will unleash when the day of grace is past. Psalm 110: God of Messiah’s Triumph. The coming Messiah of God is God (v. 1), destined to unite in His person the kingship promised to a descendant of David (vv. 2–3) and a new priesthood (v. 4), and destined also to judge the earth (v. 5). Though only seven short verses, this is the most quoted of all Old Testament psalms. To understand its significance read Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36; 16:19; Luke 20:42–43; Acts 2:34–35; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:20–21; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3, 13; 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:17, 21; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; and 1 Peter 3:22. The God we praise in this psalm is a God who, in Jesus Christ, will bring all His purposes to pass. He will redeem His own, He will judge the wicked of the world, and He will establish the endless kingdom of our God. Psalm 111: God of Wonders. We celebrate the wonder-working power of God, for His works have provided us with redemption. “I will extol the Lord with all my heart” Ps. 111:1–10. Here is another psalm well worth memorizing. Its 10 short verses move us to praise as we see again that God has chosen to exercise His power to redeem and to care for you and me.
God of the Good Man(Ps. 112)
I was leading a retreat in Washington State, and asked each person in the very large circle to share one thing each really liked about himself or herself: one thing that marked him or her off as a good person. I knew it would be hard for some. So many of us have been taught from childhood that we’re only sinners saved by grace, that it somehow seems “wrong” to say or think anything good about ourselves. It was hard for the folks there in Washington. Only a few mentioned anything significant. Most choked out things like, “Well, I enjoy children,” or “I dress nicely.” But when we got to the pastor’s wife, she said honestly, “I don’t know anything good about myself.” How tragic. Because, you see, our God is not a God of sinners. He is a God for sinners. But He is a God of sinners who are being made good!It is appropriate for David to speak of the blessedness of the “man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in His commands.” This is a man being transformed by his relationship with the Lord: a man who through that relationship has become good. He is generous and lends freely. He conducts his affairs with justice. He trusts in the Lord. He cares for the poor. And his righteousness, his good actions, “endures forever.” Why not take a moment before you read Psalm 112 to ask yourself the question I posed on that retreat. What are some things you like about yourself? What things mark you off as a good person? When you’ve made your list, then read in this psalm the blessings that God has in store for you. He has made you good that He may bless you forever.
Be glad, but not proud, when you find good in your heart and life.