Well, I don’t know if you are still hanging in there with Psalm 107 or not, but I would like to continue considering it. So far, we have considered two of the four groups of people that experienced the disciplining steadfast love of the Lord to humble them and bring them to Himself.
The first group are those whose lives were marked by aimless wandering and insatiable hungering. But in their desperation, they cried to the Lord, and He satisfied their need. God alone is the soul’s satisfaction.
The second group are those who were helplessly imprisoned because of their rebellion against God. But in their just incarceration, they cried to the Lord, and He delivered them from their bondage. God alone is the captive’s Liberator.
The third group for us to consider is found in verses 17-22. The psalmist calls them “fools through their sinful ways.” They were foolish sinners, and because of their foolishness they “suffered affliction.” The affliction that the psalmist seems to allude to is physical infirmity. They had no appetite and were staring at death (v 18). In other words, they were deathly sick.
Because of their personal iniquities, God gave them over to physical infirmity. Now, we have to be careful here, lest we think that every sickness is a result of personal sin. It certainly is not. But, to be faithful to the Word and helpful to each other, we must say that sometimes physical infirmity is caused by personal iniquity. James seems to make this connection in the 5th chapter of his letter: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (v 14-16).
Clearly, both the psalmist and James understood that sometimes God uses sickness to get our attention. He may afflict us in order to heal us. That’s exactly what He did for the group in Psalm 107. Out of their affliction they cried to the Lord, and “he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them…” (v 19-20). And, the healing they received was both physical and spiritual. Their health was restored unto life. Their hearts were restored unto God.
In times of physical affliction, it would seem wise to search our hearts, for it is possible that our foolish sins are the source. If so, let us humbly confess our sins as the Bible directs and receive the healing power of the Lord’s steadfast love, remembering that the Lord Jesus “took our illnesses and bore our diseases” (Matt 8:17) all the way to the cross.
Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.