Somehow through my years as a Christian, the beauty of this psalm escaped me. But the new NIV’s rendition, particularly verse 2 struck me and put it into a new light. It reads,
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed…
And that’s what this psalm is about. People whom God has redeemed sharing their stories with others and praising God for what he did for them.
The psalm starts out with a word of praise, one we see often in the psalms.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (1)
And the whole psalm shows just how he showed his goodness by redeeming us.
Some were wandering in desert wastelands, hungry, thirsty, and with no home. But when they cried out to God, he heard them and led them to a place where they could settle in safety, providing them with food and drink to satisfy them.
Some of us were the same way. Lost in our sin. Hungering and thirsting for that which satisfies, but unsettled and unable to find peace. But when we cried out to God, he reached down and led us out of the wilderness to a place of joy, peace, and contentment.
The psalmist then sings of those who were prisoners, in darkness because they had rebelled against God. But they cried out to God and he delivered them and broke their chains. Manasseh was an example of this.
Some of us found us in the same situation. We had known God, but we willfully turned our backs on him, thinking we would find a life of freedom apart from God and pursuing the things of this world. Only in the end, we found that the things we thought would set us free, the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life, enslaved us instead. But when we turned to him, he broke those chains and led us into true freedom.
Yet others experienced physical suffering through illness because of their sin. But when they cried out to God, they found forgiveness and healing. David experienced this if his psalms are to be taken literally and not figuratively. (Psalm 30, 32, 38-39)
We too may have had times when God had to knock us on our backs to get our attention. But once he had it, he was swift to show his mercy as well.
He then talks about those who got caught in a storm, and how when all hope was lost, God delivered them. The story of Jonah comes to mind.
We too sometimes get caught up in the storms of life. Sometimes through our own fault, and sometimes through the fault of others. But when we cried out to God, we saw his deliverance.
For others, they saw the times in the desert and God’s provision, and they saw God’s leading into the promised land, only to forget what God had done for them and watching all that they had gained be lost because of their sin. The whole history of Israel was that way.
But when they turned back to God, he restored them once again to their own land and renewed his blessing upon them.
Some of us have had the same experience. Seeing God’s blessing through the deserts of our lives, only to forget him when things became good, and as a result losing everything. But despite this, God showed his mercy to us and restored us.
So what should our response to all this be?
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. (15, 21, 31)
And let us pass on our stories to the next generation, that they may
heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord. (43)