Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! — Psalm 107:8
Several months ago I read an interesting book titled One Thousand Gifts. The author, Ann Voskamp, related how she had faced some tragic situations in her life, and had many hidden fears. Then a friend challenged her to write down one thing she was thankful for each day. At first Ann wondered if she could do it. Wouldn’t she run out of reasons for gratitude in a few weeks? And if she did think of something to write down every day, could that single action possibly make a difference in her life? Still, she agreed to give it a try…and what a discovery she made! Through the process of identifying and noting reasons for thankfulness, she became more and more grateful. In the simple exercise of expressing gratitude for what she already had, she discovered the life she’d always wanted — a life full of thanksgiving and deep-seated joy.
The dictionary defines the word grateful as “warmly or deeply appreciative of benefits received.” Studying the word a bit more closely, we find that gratitude is made up of three parts: acknowledgement of the benefit, recognition of its value, and an appreciation for the intent of the giver.
Although we’ve probably all been negligent at times in voicing appreciation, gratitude is most beneficial when it is expressed. There is a great deal of focus in contemporary society on the transformational power of appreciation. Countless essays, articles, and books have been written on the subject. Seminars and workshops have been held with the aim of helping people tap into the positive emotional, psychological, and physical benefits resulting from verbalizing our gratitude. The prevailing wisdom is that employers and employees, teachers and students, parents and children — in fact, individuals from the whole spectrum of human relationships — benefit by thankfulness.
If it is important and beneficial to express gratitude to those around us, consider how important it is to express gratitude to God for His immeasurable goodness! That is the point the psalmist was making in today’s focus verse. And he did not state this truth just once: three more times in this psalm he urged again, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” Clearly, the psalmist understood that heartfelt gratitude is the only appropriate response for the benefits God has given to us.
God had bestowed multiple blessings upon the Children of Israel: a homeland, freedom, health, protection, and provision of daily needs. These were granted out of God’s mercy, not because of the Israelites’ goodness or wisdom. This is also true for those of us who have been born again. We did not deserve God’s mercy. And certainly the value of having our sins forgiven is beyond our ability to fathom! Let us praise God today, not only for the temporal blessings He gives, but for His amazing and merciful provision for our eternal well-being.
Although closely related in theme and style to the two psalms preceding it, Psalm 107 opens Book V, the final and longest section of Psalms. Most of the psalms in Book V are oriented toward public worship. This psalm highlights the providential goodness of God towards the Israelites throughout their history, and expresses — perhaps in greater detail than any other psalm — a belief in God’s intervention in the affairs of men. A stylistic shift occurs at verse 33, with the first portion being a thanksgiving and the second section, a wisdom hymn.
Based on verse 3, this psalm was probably written after Israel’s return from Babylonian exile. The phrase “a city of habitation” (verse 7) could be translated as “a place where they could establish their homes.”
Psalm 107 has the form of a poem in which each of its stanzas concludes with a refrain. The themes expressed are: God gave the Israelites a spiritual and physical home (verses 2-9); God delivered Israel from spiritual and physical captivity (verses 10-16); God healed and delivered the Israelites from destruction (verses 17-22); God protects those at sea during storms (verses 23-32); and God provides for mankind’s needs (verses 33-42).
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
Like the psalmist, we should also praise God for His bountiful mercy. Salvation is from God, and He has given us many spiritual blessings. Our response should be one of praise and glory to Him.