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Psalm 107: 21-22
"Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to the sons of men!
And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy."
This psalm rises to the sublime heights of inspired song.
Nowhere in all literature can it be matched for its spontaneous surge of thankfulness to God.
Its vivid imagery depicts the varied course of human pilgrimage, and the wise Providence of a merciful God.
It sounds both notes of warning and encouragement, and exhorts God-fearing people to broadcast
His goodness and unfailing love.
"Let the redeemed of the Lord say so."
In this intensely, practical age with its computers, speedometers, codes, guidelines, and every conceivable device
for measuring output and analyzing statistics, it might be well to inject some of the poetical.
True poetry arises from the aspiration of the soul.
One quality of immortal poetry is its universal application and appeal.
- It is the spiritual expression of the mind and heart.
- It is God-centered and God-breathed.
So, this magnificent Psalm of Thanksgiving, while based on the history of the ancient Israelites, awakens
- It obliterates geographical, racial and national boundaries.
- It is ageless and timeless.
kindred echoes and responses in every human breast.
It breathes again with meaning.
The past becomes the present, and we enter vicariously into the experiences of God's chosen people.
In four realistic and masterful pictures, we see ourselves.
The inspired writer portrays direction in the desert so graphically.
His Oriental mind is very evident.
Amidst the aridity, waste and trackless emptiness, where life is difficult to hold, the Providence of God impressed itself
upon the thought and consciousness of man.
Monotheism had its rise in the desert, and so did the great religions of the Semitic races.
It is all there -- loneliness, uncertainty, transitoriness, hunger, first, despair, and sheer helplessness.
- The patriarchs were sustained by the guidance of Almighty God, and Israel saw a mighty demonstration of it for 40 years.
- Preserving the memory of it in verse, the Psalmist writes, "Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way
to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them."
Frail humanity at the mercy of the elements.
Wilderness travelers, lost in the desert.
History repeats itself.
This parallels our day.
Civilization is groping "in a dry and weary land where no water is."
Our nation, like the nations of the world, seems confused and baffled.
We get weary of the cry, "This is the way out."
- There appears to be no stability.
- People and leaders have lost the way.
New maps and improved compasses are offered by numerous inventors.
Shortcuts to prosperity, and elaborate gadgets to force the needle to the magnetic pole are being
hawked to a gullible public.
We must beware -- for the alteration of the map may lead us far astray.
The gadget may divert the needle from its true position.
The Israelites could not find the way out of the wilderness.
The necessities of life failed.
To many, it brought poverty of soul.
In their frustration, they besought God to help them.
He "delivered them from their distresses" and "led them by a straightway."
We all need to be God-directed.
- His way leads to stability from the shifting desert tent, and the uncertainty of nomadic life.
- He brought them to a city of habitation where they became an established, contented and prosperous society.
Thank Him for His direction in the desert.
- His way is the right way for nations, as well as for individuals.
- He has never failed, and never will!
The second picture which the Psalmist presents can be called freedom from fetters.
The Psalmist's historical mood recalls the bitter gall of Egyptian bondage.
The enslaved Hebrews were forced to labor under unbearable conditions.
The oppression became horrible!
Ordered to make bricks without straw; broken in body and spirit under the industrial heel of the haughty Pharaoh,
their wail ascended to heaven.
God heard their cry, and sent them a mighty leader and freed them from the bondage of the foreign yoke.
Now, under David's beneficent reign, the Golden Age was being ushered in.
The descendants of those former slaves had well-nigh forgotten the struggle for freedom.
The sweet singer reminds them of that historic epoch.
Slavery of that type was theoretical for them then, as it is for us now.
However, spiritual slavery and bondage existed for them as it does for us.
This refers to the lost condition of men who willfully resist the claims of God.
Hopes are blasted; depression strangles us; systems force us into grooves; customs and public opinion cramp
- The grip of sin controls them.
- They are no longer masters of their minds and wills.
- Humanity is ruled by their passions.
- The flesh holds them fast in its carnality.
and circumscribe; confusion of creeds clouds our thinking; and many are appalled at their helplessness.
Take heart and look up, the day of liberation is here.
There is a way of escape.
Jesus said that God sent Him "to proclaim release to the captives."
He is the Great Emancipator.
In the midst of their bondage, Israel cried to God for help.
God alone leads the way out.
- Chains fell from wrists and ankles.
- Restraining walls were demolished.
- Fear was removed.
- True liberty at last.
He grants freedom from fetters to nations and individuals, when they turn to Him.
Let us thank Him for our liberty as His children.
The third picture deals with deliverance from death.
Again and again, the Israelites were miraculously saved from destruction.
Through their own willfulness, they brought calamity and disease upon themselves.
The serpent-bitten men, who had spurned the counsel of the Most High, would have died
had not Moses interceded for them.
When they looked upon the brass serpent on the pole, they were healed.
Others were ill through lack of self-control.
Then they turned to God, who cured them.
- Their greed and gluttony brought them low.
- Their appetites were sated.
- Death stared them in the face.
Disregard for the rules of health, has brought many a person to the gates of death, either through ignorance,
carelessness, or willful dissipation.
The Psalmist calls such violators, fools.
Witness world conditions now!
- Inattention to the laws of God causes nations, as well as individuals to deteriorate.
- Sickness of soul is evidenced by greed, immorality, selfishness, disrespect for law and self- indulgence of all forms.
Sin-sick souls need the Divine Physician.
He can heal them by His touch and by His cleansing Word.
However, His prescription must be followed to bring healing.
The ills of the world will be cured, only if, the remedies of God are followed.
Thank God for deliverance from death.
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, who heals all your diseases."
The fourth picture could be called saved from the sea.
The sea has always been an object of terror to the Israelites.
In our Lord's day, there were fishermen on the Lake of Galilee, but seamanship was not the Hebrew's forte.
- They were not exploring navigators.
- They discovered no new lands by the water route.
In Solomon's time Hiram, king of Tyre, put his fleet at the disposal of his ally in the building of the Temple.
Israel never desired the supremacy of the seas.
Here the Psalmist in striking words portrays the dire state of the mariner at the mercy of the deep.
What a description of a storm at sea!
Amidst the awful din, He hears their anguished cries, and stills the angry elements.
- Waves reaching to heaven, then dashing the ship into the tossing foam.
- Sailors reeling like drunkards upon the heaving deck.
- With faces looking to heaven, they implore God to rescue them.
He holds the winds and waves in His hands.
They obey His will.
This is a storm-tossed earth!
Pouring oil on troubled waters provides only temporary relief.
- Griefs, doubts, anxieties, fears, and disappointments abound.
- Social, moral, political, and religious upheavals are continuous and world-wide.
- We live in a state of flux and turmoil.
- Many are being engulfed.
Legislation, treaties, conferences, and conventions are but make-shifts.
Only God brings people and nations to the desired haven of peace and prosperity, when they seek His aid.
We should give thanks to God that He is able to save from the sea.
The Psalmist has a purpose in presenting these pictures.
To sacrifice means to give a gift that cost something -- the best we can obtain.
- He is not writing merely to display the beauty of his artistry and style.
- His intention is to incite his readers to sincere gratitude to God, so he suggests,
"Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy."
The Israelites were commanded to provide a lamb without spot or blemish.
- Abel brought the finest of his flock.
- Abraham was willing to offer up Isaac, his only son.
God not only demands the best; He gives the best.
With lavish love, He provides His providential gifts.
For our salvation, He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, and Jesus willingly sacrificed His life
that we might be saved from sin.
Thanksgiving Day calls for a sacrifice from each of us.
God wants the allegiance of our hearts and the obedience of our wills given in deep repentance and humility.
But, after confession and forgiveness, comes witnessing.
"Let the redeemed of the Lord say so."
Certainly not by Presidential proclamations, legal statues or ecclesiastical pronouncements alone.
- How can this be done?
- How can we express our sincere gratitude to the Giver of every good and perfect gift?
True thankfulness can not be forced into bloom like a hot-house plant.
It is spontaneous, and wells up from a heart alive to its undeserved blessings.
Those who are God-conscious; those who have experienced His limitless love are the first to give thanks
and "tell his deeds in songs of joy."
The pessimism and gloom of the present, with their paralyzing materialistic philosophies, can be overcome
- Radiant godliness makes a deep impression.
- A happy religion is contagious!
with vital and outgoing Christian faith and witness.
"Let the people praise Thee, Lord;
Let Thy love on all be poured;
Let the Nations shout and sing,
Glory to their Saviour King:
At Thy feet their tribute lay,
And Thy holy will obey."
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at hleewhite@AOL.com