Several months ago I began leading us through Psalm 107. We have seen examples of the greatness of our God’s salvation and how far His reach can be. The final example he gives begins in verse twenty-three. It is different. Honestly, I thought at first it was bit strange because these people were not really doing anything bad, but trouble comes upon them.
23Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
24 they saw the deeds of the Lord,
his wondrous works in the deep.
25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
29 He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders. (Psalm 107:23-32, ESV)
These men did nothing wrong. These people simply went out on the ocean. They are fishermen or merchants or in some other nautical profession. They have their business on the sea and are working. In fact, we are told they were looking at the beauty of God’s creation. They are witness to His wondrous works, but a storm hits. We are painted the picture that their ship is tossed about. Verse twenty-six says, They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths. Their ship goes up and then falls far down. Their courage melted away. They are scared. They stagger about the boat like a drunk.
Think about how many times we see this image of a dangerous sea in the Bible. We see it with Jonah. We see when Jesus calms the storm. The sea must have been a terrifying place to be. There was no radio communication. There was no one you could call for help. There was no Coast Guard. You were simply out there on your own. If the ship was destroyed, you were going to the bottom of the ocean and no one would see you again. Your family would not know where you sank nor would they know how you died. So to go on a ship, and make these types of voyages, you had to be a person of great courage. This storm makes even that melt away.
Sometimes, we come to God when we go through a storm and we have nothing left. These people, however, are not pictured as having nothing. They, most likely, had whatever they needed. They are doing business. They are doing well and yet, God sends the storm so that they will see their need for Him. That may have been your situation in life when you came to Christ. That is when some of you gave up doing your own thing—going in your own way—and followed after Him. You realized your inability when the storm hit and you knew without Him you were not going to make it. The waves were crashing to and fro and you finally realized that you could not do it on your own.
If that is the case you should say so. If that was the case and you cried to the Lord, He listened, He saved you, He calmed the storm, and He brought you to the place that you were needing to go, shout it from the roof tops.
The Psalmist even tells us who should be the audience of our thanks. He is very specific and I think there is a point to this. First, he says the congregation of the people. That was the gathering of the religious people. He says you should talk about it when you get to the worship gathering. You should talk about the fact that God has brought you out of this storm. You should allow other people to celebrate with you. It should be exciting when God does something. It gives us hope. It gives us courage for the future. What encouragement it gives me when I get to share in the joy that God is providing someone else. How helpful it is for me as a pastor when I get to hear what God is doing in the lives of the people under my care. Sometimes I am privileged to hear this on a day when I do not feel like He is doing something in mine. In the same way, I want to share with others when God does something in my life because it can encourage us. It pushes us along. It helps us to get through our own dark times and our own storms. We should share in the congregation of the people.
Next he says, And praise him in the assembly of the elders. This would be the public gathering. He says do not simply go to the religious gathering, share it in public. Elders here are not referring to elders as we would think of in the New Testament. In the Old Testament world, cities would have elders as leaders of the city. Many times they would be religious, but this is a public gathering. It is not enough for us to share with each other what God is doing but rather we must commit ourselves to sharing it outside the walls of our church. He is working in our lives. Share it to the religious and share it to those who are lost. Share the blessings that God has given.