We are all saved from sin by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. But that does not mean our salvation stories are all the same. Sin leads us into all sorts of damning situations, and God’s steadfast love is always there to redeem us.
Psalm 107 is a good example of this; urging the redeemed of the Lord to praise their Redeemer for his manifold redemption. In this Psalm we encounter four different scenarios that allude to Israel’s past, but are not identified with any one specific event. These four places of deep trouble offer us a glimpse into the varied and wonderful ways in which God redeems his people.
“Some wandered in desert wastes” (vv.4-9)
Some people wander in the harsh environs of the wilderness, that place without mercy or refuge. They are searching for home, for a place to belong, for something of substance that will satisfy the longings of their soul.
Their salvation is that God takes their hand and leads them out of their endless wanderings in the wasteland. He guides them in the path of life, showing them purpose and truth, and ultimately bringing them to the eternal city – a place to belong forever.
“Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death” (vv.10-16)
Having spurned God’s words of hope, some people are prisoners in the dark. They are beaten down by the hard consequences of their own sin, and find themselves shackled in the chains of their condemnation. They are abandoned by all and written off as lost causes.
God shines the light of hope and brings them out of the darkness of their impending doom. He breaks their bonds, removes their guilt and sets them free.
“Some were fools through their sinful ways” (vv.17-22)
Others are sick and at the point of death because they have lived life according to their own wisdom. They have kicked against the goads, against God’s ways, and stubbornly refused to change their ways.
God graciously pulls them out of the pit they have dug for themselves and heals their illness, bringing them back from sure destruction.
“Some went down to the sea in ships…their courage melted away in their evil plight.” (vv.23-30)
Some fall prey to the natural dangers of living and doing business in a fallen world. They find themselves at the mercy of the wind and the waves, coming face-to-face with their own mortality.
God stills the storm and silences the waves, speaking peace into existence. Then he guides the weary travelers to a safe haven.
Reading Psalm 107 makes two things clear to us.
One, we are not in any way the heroes of the story, God is. We are the sinners, the lost, the imprisoned, the foolish, the drowning. God is the trustworthy guide, the liberator, the healer, the Sovereign.
Two, there is no place from which our Redeemer cannot rescue us. The harsh desert, the iron chains, the gates of death, the enveloping waves; it does not matter. God is able to save to the uttermost.