Can God produce fruit from a barren wasteland?: Introducing Psalm 107J

This Sunday at Redeemer we will begin a new “Psalm of the Month” in our morning and afternoon services which we will sing every Sunday in that service for the month of October. The repetition of one Psalm is helpful for learning a new tune that the congregation is unfamiliar with and especially for meditating more deeply upon God’s Word and hiding it in our heart. Here is my brief introduction for Psalm 107J that I will share with the congregation this Sunday in our afternoon service:

Psalm 107J is a Psalm of thanksgiving in the context of distress which sings of the fact that God can take the most barren wastelands and make them fruitful for His glory and for the good of his people. And this should bring you great encouragement in the Christian life because the Bible says that you who were once dead in your sins and trespasses are a new creation in Christ and no matter what sufferings and struggles you face in the Christian life none of it goes to waste. In fact through those sufferings and struggles God is in the process of producing the fruit of the Spirit in you and turning all of your bitter providences into sweet glory which will be revealed in the age to come when he brings us into our heavenly city, the New Jerusalem.

Here is the text of Psalm 107J from The Book of Psalms for Worship:

Some rivers He changes to desert and waste,
And watersprings to arrid ground.
A land that is fruitful He turns into salt,
For evil were those living there.
Yet wilderness then He can make into pools,
From dry dust can make watersprings.
He makes such a place for the hungry to dwell,
To set up a city as home,
To set up a city as home.

They then may sow seeds and plant vineyards and fields,
And gather a plentiful yield.
He blesses them greatly, their numbers increase;
He’ll not let their cattle decrease.
But when they were few, they were bowed and brought low
From hardship, oppression, and grief;
On princes He pours out His scorn, so they roam
In wastelands without any path,
In wastelands without any path.

But safe from affliction He raises the poor,
To set them securely on high.
And families, too, He will treat with His care,
And make them to be like a flock.
The upright will see this, and as they rejoice,
All wrongdoing closes its mouth.
Is anyone wise? Let him hold to these things,
And think on the LORD’s gracious love,
And thing on the LORD’s gracious love.

Normally you can listen to the tune here, and it’s a beautiful tune, but I am having a problem getting to the page that has the tune for 107J right now (not sure if this is my computer or the web-site).

You Become What You Worship: Introducing Psalm 115A

This past Sunday at my church, we started a new round of Psalms for “Psalm of the Month” in the morning and afternoon services. We sing more than one Psalm in each service, but we focus on one Psalm for the whole month in each service as well. In the afternoon we are singing Psalm 115A from The Book of Psalms for Worship. Here is a meditation on Psalm 115:1-8 (the verses that we sing) that I wrote for my congregation. I encourage you to meditate on the whole Psalm as well.

Introducing Psalm 115A:

In this Psalm, we give our God all the glory for His faithfulness and steadfast love to us. And in response to those who make fun of us for worshipping a God who is invisible, we respond with a sort of holy mocking in return where we point out the fact that although their gods have mouths and eyes and ears, amongst other body parts, they can’t speak, they can’t see, and they can’t hear. In other words, they can’t act to be faithful and loving to them in their time of need. Indeed, in the words of Paul, “we know that ‘an idol has no real existence,’ and that ‘there is no God but one'” (1 Cor. 8:4). But our God has always been and always will be faithful to us. He has proven this to us ultimately in the person and work of Jesus Christ, God the Son, who was manifested to us in the flesh, died for our sins, and was raised the third day.

It’s also interesting to note that in this Psalm God’s Word teaches us that we become like what we worship. Notice the 5th stanza in our Psalter: “Whoever makes these lifeless gods–these idols which are vain–whoever puts his trust in them in time becomes the same.” This is why it is so important that we worship the one true God every week, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We worship because it takes our idolatrous hearts off of our own idols and the idols of the world, false gods who cannot save us or satisfy us, and draws our attention to the one true God as He has revealed Himself to us in His Word. And as we worship God the Father through faith in Christ and by the Holy Spirit, the Bible tells us once again that we become like what we worship: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

I look forward to worshipping the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with you this Sunday and becoming more like Christ!

(BTW: Dr. G.K. Beale wrote a book on this theme of becoming what you worship. You can also find introductions to all of the Psalms by Rev. Terry Johnson here.)