Let the redeemed of the Lord speak of his steadfast love.
I. This psalm starts off with a call to praise and worship God.
Because he is good and his steadfast love endures forever.
How do we know that?
Because he redeems people from trouble. He saves people. He saves all kinds of people. People from all places. He gathered them from the east and west, north and south.
Where are you right now? Wherever you are, God knows what you are dealing with. He can take you from any place.
II. Some of those he redeemed were homeless. They didn't even have a city to live in. They were in a desert where there is nothing. No food. No water. Nada.
What did they do?
They cried to the Lord in their trouble. You know, you can cry to the Lord. You can tell him all about it. He understands you better than anyone. Even better than you do. He made you. Don’t be mad at him for your troubles, he can save you out of them. Maybe that’s why he allowed them to happen to you, so that he can show you how much he cares for you?
He heard their cry. God hears. He knows. Remember, Jesus went through it, too. He was homeless, hungry, thirsty, rejected, tired, betrayed, beaten, murdered. He understands all pain, all betrayal, all mistreatment, all heartache.
God delivered them. He led them on the straight way. He gave them a permanent place to stay. This is why they thank him. He worked when they prayed. Some say, “Prayer works.” Well, God works. He satisfies the longing soul. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” God loves to satisfy those who are in need. This may be one reason why he allows trouble in our lives. Do you feel dissatisfied? Are you hungry for what is right and good in your life? Look to God. He doesn’t have the answer, he is the answer!
They thank him for his “steadfast love.” Love that keeps on keeping on, no matter what. God doesn’t stop loving. He loves those he redeems. There are those that God does not love. Just read Psalm 5 if you don't believe me. God will punish sinners for their sins in Hell. Hell never ends. Israel was God's chosen nation, a people he redeemed out of slavery for himself. he certainly wasn't going to let them starve in the desert, especially when they cried to him for salvation. The soul who seeks him will find him. God never let's anyone down who genuinely wants to be saved. He will redeem everyone that he chose from before the foundation of the world. That's what Ephesians chapter 1 says.
Are you redeemed? that’s the question.
Maybe you think your situation is different. So many say that for them, Hell is here on earth. It's not. Christ went back to heaven to prepare a place there for you if you follow him. Cry to him. Talk to him. Trust in him. He’ll show you.
Let’s move on...
III. Some were criminals. Stuck in prison. They rebelled against his word. They lived their own way. They didn’t listen to God’s counsel, his word, his instructions. You know, God gave us everything we need to know about living his way right here in the Bible. They ignored that. They did their own thing, and paid for it in chains and slave labor. Nobody cared for them.
Then what did they do after that?
It says in verses 13 & 14, “Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart.”
That’s why they should thank him. He loved them enough to pardon them. He loved them enough to set them free. It says he burst their bonds apart. He loved them so much he destroyed everything that held them captive.
What is holding you captive? Have you been rebellious against God’s Word? Are you sitting in darkness and bound by the chains of sin? Don’t fear. Don’t be downcast. Don’t be discouraged. You can cry to the Lord in the midst of your distress. He’ll set you free. Jesus said that only the truth will set us free. He is the truth.
I wish I had more time to expound the rest of this Psalm. I could say a lot more about it. There is something here for everyone. Not all of us have the same problems, come from the same backgrounds, have had the same experiences, felt the same pain, cried the same tears, had the same anger or frustration. But all of us have one thing in common. We have a Creator who loves us enough to save us from our troubles when we call out to him.
Jesus didn’t die for nothing. He died to pay for the sins of his people. Everyone who comes to him will never be cast out. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know him. How can they come to him? Oh, certainly many people say they believe in him. They say they have a personal relationship with him. But how do they live their lives? Do they live as if their life depended on him? Because it does. Do they see him as their Lord who tells them what to do? Or do they see him as the one they get to tell what to do? See prayer is first about our submission to God, our love, delight and praise to God. We ask him to give us what he knows we need. Sometimes he gives us what we want. Sometimes he doesn’t. Most of the time it is because we ask for the wrong things and we have the wrong motives. But he loves to save. We see that from this Psalm. He loves to redeem people from every walk of life. He loves to help those who recognize they truly have a need for him. See, if you need God, then God is there for you. If you don’t need him, don’t expect to be blessed by him. Many people live as if they don’t need Christ. They live as if they don’t need anyone or anything but themselves. They tell their girlfriends that they need them, until they find another girl. Likewise, many women are just using men to get what they want. True love is not getting as much as you can from others, it is giving yourself away for the sake of the one you love.
God gave everything. He gave his Son. Shouldn’t we gladly give ourselves to him? Our desires, hopes, dreams, aspirations, needs, wants, sins, burdens, troubles, hurts, fears, anxieties, angers, frustrations, complaints, love, affection, obedience, loyalty? He is waiting to hear us cry to him. Pour out your heart to him. You may not feel relief right away. It may take some time. You might not see your full reward until you reach God’s heavenly throne room. Remember, he raised Jesus from the dead. We must die also. We die to our way of life in order to live his way, by his strength and help. If we die physically, he will raise us to eternal life when Christ returns. After death, God's children get to be with him in heaven, waiting for the time when he will make this world new again.
Isn’t that something to cry out to him for? Isn’t it worth our pleas for help to be given what our souls most long for? They long for God. Jesus is God in human flesh, who reconciles us back to the Father. They long for life. Jesus is the life. They long for light. Jesus is the light of the world. They long for freedom. Jesus is the truth that sets us free. They long for satisfaction. Jesus satisfies completely. They long for peace. Jesus is our peace. They long for justification. Christ is our justification, who has taken away our sin, put it upon himself, and has given us his righteousness, making us accepted forever. He delights to save those who cry out to him!
You can apply this message to yourself in a couple of ways. First, if you are living your own way, doing things your way, ignoring God's Word, then you can apply this message by calling out to him for a change in your heart and for a change in your life. You need to be rescued from all the things we just talked about, and the only way for you to be redeemed, like the Israelites spoken of in this Psalm, is by putting your full confidence in Jesus Christ as your righteousness before God. Don't get me wrong. Christ demands repentance. To repent is to recognize your guilt for breaking all of God's righteous Laws and to turn back to him in confession, sorrow, humility, fear and obedience. Nothing less will be accepted. But Jesus also taught that you cannot come to him unless the Father draws you to him. That's why we need God's Holy Spirit to change our hearts and make us new first, before we can surrender and believe. Cry to him in prayer, confessing your waywardness, and trust fully in his power to save. Salvation is the gift of God from start to finish. You need repentance, you need forgiveness, you need a new way of life, you need to live by God's Word, you need to persevere, to keep on keeping on, you need to be faithful and to do what God wants. All of this must come by God's powerful grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Cry out to him in your prayers for this salvation.
Second, if you know you have eternal life and you trust fully in the King of kings, the Savior of sinners, the Judge who has pardoned every last one of your sins forever and has already accepted you as his very own, then you can take courage. You can be fully confident that he cares about every need of yours and hears when you call. By his help, you can live your life in obedience to Scripture. Just keep reading it and learning to do what it says in the power of God's Spirit. If you don't, you can be sure God will discipline you for disobeying, but he will never leave you or forsake you. If you are not disciplined by God as your Father, it is because you are not one of his children. In that case, you ought to examine yourself and seek the Lord for salvation and the assurance of your salvation, which only he can give.
Let us give thanks to him for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to the children of men!