Psalm 107 • His Lovingkindness

Introduction

Psalm 107 begins what is labeled in many Bibles as “Book V” of the Psalms. This book—or collection—of Psalms was most likely assembled upon the Israelites return to the land of Israel at the end of their captivity in Babylon. After 70 years of captivity, the return to Israel was a monumental sign of the Lord to those returning, something that is very rare in all of human history. How many times has a nation that was conquered and dispersed found their way back to their original country and re-formed themselves? So it’s no surprise that the very first Psalm in the final book of the Psalms strongly emphasizes “hesed”—the Hebrew word translated in the NASB as “lovingkindness”.

Human love is almost always expressed by a different word in Hebrew, ”aheb”, which when referring to man’s love for or towards God usually involves obedience. God’s love expressed to man is most often expressed as “hesed”, most closely meaning “lovingkindness”. The closest NT equivalent may be “grace”, but that doesn’t quite get it. “Lovingkindness” is the expression of God’s determination to keep His promises to His chosen people in spite of their sin and rebellion. It’s not an apathetic response to sin, but a deliberate act to bring the sinner back to God. It’s God’s divine mercy and forgiveness toward sinners when repayment of sins through the sacrificial system was no longer effective. “Hesed” is always an expression of love by God to someone with which He has a relationship. The 2 words it’s most closely associated with are “covenant” and “faithfulness”.

Imagine how precious this concept was to a nation thought at one point to be completely destroyed—even dead—only to come back to life and returned to Him both physically and spiritually. Although the returning Israelites experienced spiritual reawakening in their covenant and faithfulness to God, they were painfully aware it was nothing they accomplished on their own but only by His lovingkindness alone.

Read verses 1-3

Q: How does this introduction to the Psalm fit with the definition of lovingkindness provided above?

A: His love endures for the purpose of redeeming the sinner, of bringing them back to Him spiritually. The redeemed are those that He has never given up on and who have responded spiritually to His gathering them back. It the very picture of the meaning of God’s lovingkindness.

Observation

In v.4-32 are 4 teachings of the nature of God’s lovingkindness. Although they vary in length, each is structured in the exact same order:

  1. the people’s sin,
  2. the people’s cry for a return to God,
  3. God’s application of His lovingkindness, and
  4. the praise due Him for that lovingkindness.

Identify each of these sub-sections and then summarize what they teach about God’s lovingkindness.

Read verses 4-9

Q: What is the first quality of God’s lovingkindness?

A: It endures to satisfy our soul.

Application: The Israelites between Egypt and the Promised Land often grumbled more about their physical circumstances than the spiritual. Do you understand that God often uses physical circumstances to get you to see the need to address the spiritual root causes? Are you or have you ever been in a situation where it took extreme physical circumstances to get you to turn to God? Did He simply erase the circumstances, or were there spiritual steps on your part?

Read verses 10-16

Q: What is the second quality of God’s lovingkindness?

A: It endures to set our soul free.

Application: What enslaves you? Is it God’s Word for freedom or a substitute that keeps you in darkness? How can you identify masters to whom you have given authority for an area of your life? [Hint: Those things furthest from adhering to His Word.]

Read verses 17-22

Q: What is the third quality of God’s lovingkindness?

A: It endures to heal our soul.

Application: Have you considered that if you reject even the discussion of God’s Word concerning an area of your life, that this behavior in and of itself identifies a problem area of sin? What should you do for yourself or on the behalf of another with such a condition?

Read verses 23-32

Q: What is the fourth quality of God’s lovingkindness?

A: It endures to put our soul at peace.

Application: Do you—or someone you know—believe that if your time is not spent in another religious pursuit, but merely on earthly needs, that it’s somehow not replacing God? Have you noticed how the more consumed a person gets with obtaining financial security, how often they become more afraid of losing it? Does this result in more or less peace? Have they arrived at the “safe haven” they so desired in the first place?

Quick Summary

Q: What are the 4 characteristics of God’s lovingkindness?

  1. It endures to satisfy our soul.
  2. It endures to set our soul free.
  3. It endures to heal our soul.
  4. It endures to put our soul at peace.

Q: What is the main focus of concern of God’s lovingkindness and why?

A: Our soul. It’s redeeming us for all eternity—both this life and the next—not out of momentary circumstances.

Read verses 33-38

Q: What is the difference between God’s works in v.33-34 versus 35-38?

A: He takes away whatever’s necessary to give sinners the opportunity to see from their own circumstances that they need to return to Him (v.33-34), versus responding to those acknowledging their need for Him by supplying every spiritual resource in abundance.

Application: How satiated is your soul right now? For what do you hunger and thirst and desire? What does this teach you about yourself? How will God probably work on those hungers, thirsts, and desires?

Read verses 39-43

Q: What is the basic message conveyed in v.39-41?

A: Earthly appearances of one’s place and position are not always equal to one’s place in the eyes and estimation of God. Those who appear to have much are in reality wandering in spiritual darkness, while those who often appear to lack earthly goods and title are the most spiritually secure.

Q: What is the response of these two disparate parties according to v.42?

A: “The upright”—those responding to His lovingkindness—realize the reality of the situation and that they are secure eternally even if earthly circumstances are temporarily less than ideal. “Unrighteousness” is dumbfounded by it’s inability to resolve it all on their own through their own means.

Q: What is the solution?

A: To “give heed to these things”—that is, to respond to the Lord by not just acknowledging Him but being obedient to Him.

Overall Application