Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men! Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, And tell of His works with joyful singing. Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters; They have seen the works of the LORD, And His wonders in the deep. (Psa 107:21–24 NAS95)

The psalmist here emphasizes God’s works and His wonders. It’s interesting that the psalmist singles out sailors as ones who have seen the works of the Lord and his wonders in the great deep. He doesn’t stop to explain to us exactly what he means here, so we can only speculate. He does imply though that there is something unique about the sea which shows off God’s works and wonders. Perhaps the psalmist had been to the beach during a storm and seen the mighty power of the great waves, perhaps he had actually been on a ship in the sea.

I recall being on the USS Chicago as a midshipman in the summer of 1979 and being on the South China Sea and going outside to the deck and night and standing in the darkness and just watching the stars overhead on a moonless night.  It’s quite an amazing sight if you’re far from other light. God spoke and all those stars came into existence. Perhaps this is what the psalmist is thinking of.

What we can grasp without question from this passage is that God’s works and wonders can be observed and ought to be observed and ought to fill us with joyful songs of praise and thankfulness. I don’t think I do a very good job of that.

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“Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember Your abundant kindnesses, But rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, That He might make His power known.” (Psalms 106:7–8 NAS95)

We have in this passage an example of God’s zeal for his own glory, there is no other way to put it.  He saved the Israelites (who were not worthy of saving) for the sake of His name.  John Piper preaches in one of his sermons:

God does not merely wait to be exalted for his power and righteousness and mercy, he has taken the initiative from all eternity to exalt his own name in the earth and to display his glory. Everything he does is motivated by his desire to be glorified.

Isn’t this a little self-centered of God?  Piper points out that there are two reasons we stumble over this truth:

There are two reasons, I think, why we may stumble over God’s love for his own glory and his zeal to get men to praise him for it. One is that we don’t like humans who act that way, and the other is that the Bible seems to teach that a person ought not to seek his own glory.

Piper explains that we feel this way about God because we think that God is kind of like us, which he is not.  He is altogether different.  Why is it essential that God has a zeal for his own glory?  Piper:

The answer that I want to try to persuade you is true is this: because God is unique as the most glorious of all beings and totally self-sufficient, he must be for himself in order to be for us. If he were to abandon the goal of his own self-exaltation, we would be the losers. His aim to bring praise to himself and his aim to bring pleasure to his people are one aim and stand or fall together.

Piper explains it this way: What could God give us to enjoy that would show him most loving? There is only one possible answer, isn’t there? Himself! If God would give us the best, the most satisfying, that is, if he would love us perfectly, he must offer us no less than himself for our contemplation and fellowship.

When God exalts his own glory, he is giving us the highest good, the most loving thing in the universe that he could possibly give us.  This is exactly why we want him to pursue his own glory.

 

“He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They afflicted his feet with fetters, He himself was laid in irons; Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the LORD tested him.” (Psalms 105:17–19 NAS95)

Here is something about God that we do not necessarily enjoy.  Sometimes he puts us into difficult situations and as the Scripture says here of Joseph, it is to refine us.  The word that we translate “tested” is a word used to describe the refining process in which metal is heated up until it is liquid and the dross is scraped off and only the pure metal remains.

God tested Joseph without telling him that there was ultimate divine purpose in the testing and that he would one day be second in command of Egypt and save his own family from starvation.  God often refines us without explaining why or what he is doing.   To sustain our faith in difficulty, we have the Scriptures to rely on, the promises of God that He Himself has made, and the witness of history that He knows what He is doing and will accomplish His purpose.

 

“He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works.” (Psalms 104:13 NAS95)

A famous Beatles song begins with the words:

I  can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no satisfaction

Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no

What a contrast between the Beatles and the created works of God.  The unnamed psalmist writes: The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works.  The word that we translate satisfied means much the same thing in Hebrew—satiated, content, happy, complete, fulfilled.  The created works of God aren’t wrestling with dissatisfaction, like the Beatles, they aren’t complaining about their lot in life, or why God made them, or how God made them, they are just going about being who God made them to be.  A hummingbird darts its way among newly flowering plants prying nectar out of each flower.  The flowers themselves grow and bloom and demonstrate the beauty which God brought to them.  The sun and moon and stars go about their business day by day, happy and content to run their course just as their Creator commands.

If we are looking for satisfaction and contentment and fulfillment in anything else except our Creator, like the Beatles, we will be left unfulfilled; however, if we join God’s created works in drawing our satisfaction from our Creator, then we will know true satisfaction.

 

Isaiah 43:1-2 – “But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.”

The single most repeated command from Our Lord is contained in this passage: Do not fear. This command is repeated hundreds of times in the Scriptures, it’s as if God knows and understands that fear is our biggest battle.

Rifqa Barry writes eloquently and honestly of the fear that gripped her as she fled from her Muslim family who found out that she had become a follower of Christ.  Her own father threatened to kill her—other Muslim fathers had done the same thing in the United States for far less offense. As Rifqa experienced opposition from her parents and ended up fleeing their home in fear for her life, she struggled with fear, but the Lord always came to comfort her.  She writes:

I realized that the pain of my past might never go away, that I could never completely outrun it or leave it in the rearview mirror. But I could continue to press toward the One who had captured my heart. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob promised a home to the broken, the lonely, and the abandoned. I could feel His passion for me in that moment, burning warm within my spirit, drawing me forward across these endless miles to freedom.

This sounds like a literal example of Is 43.1-2 to me. Rifqa was and is a daughter of the King Almighty and he was with her through her journey from fear to faith, and he is with her still.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8 NAS95)

When God speaks, his word stands forever.  It is solid. It is trustworthy.  It is true.  Everything else in this world falls apart, fades, and dies; flowers, grass, and human beings.  God’s word never fades, never withers, never dies.  John Calvin writes here: “This passage comprehends the whole Gospel in few words; for it consists of an acknowledgment of our misery, poverty, and emptiness, that, being sincerely humbled, we may fly to God, by whom alone we shall be perfectly restored.”

Eta Linnemann was a theologian and student of the historical-critical theologian, Rudolf Bultmann. She was teaching in a German university and while she believed that there was a person named Jesus, she was not a follower of Jesus.  God sovereignly drew her to faith and during that process she first began to think about the inspiration of the Scriptures:

I had been a theologian for many years, but I had never thought about the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. All I knew was that in church history some theologians at the end of the sixteenth century thought the Bible had been dictated. As I read through this book, I was deeply ashamed to learn that every page of the Bible is the word of the living God. Though I was a theologian, I never realized it…So I found out you can trust your Bible. You cannot trust historical critical theology or higher criticism. It is not trustworthy. I praise God for bringing me out of it, and pray that he will use me to bring others from criticism to Christ.

God’s word—and the Scriptures are God’s word—stands forever.  You can trust your Bible.

 

““But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven,” (Deuteronomy 11:11 NAS95)

I love the beautiful poetry of the words in the NASB here: the land…drinks water from the rain of heaven.  The CSB has a rather pedestrian translation: watered by rain from the sky. I mean, they are both saying the same thing, but the NASB captures the words so much more poignantly.

The point that Moses was making here, was that the land into which the Hebrews were moving was a very fertile and blessed land, indeed, in the very next breath, Moses tells them that it is a land over which God watches carefully: “a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year.” (Deuteronomy 11:12 NAS95)

Surely, Gerard Manley Hopkins had something like this verse in mind when he wrote the poem God’s Grandeur:

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

I love the end lines from Mr. Hopkins’ poem. The world is bent—it lies in a fallen state just as affected by Adam’s disobedience as we are—but God the Holy Spirit broods over it like a mother hen watching carefully over her chicks, renewing it day by day.

Surely, this is the same picture that we see in Deuteronomy 11, God watching carefully over the land because it is the land of his people and he created it and blessed it and is responsible for it.