Today brings us to our penultimate reflection of Psalm 107 found in verses 23-31. Here we read of the fourth and final group of people who experience the Lord’s steadfast love in a time of great crises.
Though no sinful actions are specifically referred to (where ESV uses “their evil plight” in v 26, NASB uses “their misery”; NKJV uses “trouble”), we might be safe in thinking that this group was guilty of pride and presumption; two sins we are all too familiar with. It seems that they were making their trip on the sea without any deliberate regard to God. “No need to seek His help or guidance. We’ve got this!” Maybe they had some of that presumptuous pride which James warns about, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life?… Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)
We’ve all been there; going on with our lives as if we are in control. Making our trips and plans as though we determine our destiny. What we need in those times is to be humbled. That’s what this fourth group needed, and that’s exactly what they got. “They saw the deeds of the LORD, his wondrous works in the deep” (v 24). The Lord sent a powerful storm, a shaking of the waters, to remind them of how small and impotent they actually were. “Their courage melted…they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end” (v 26-27). God put them in a situation where they did not know what to do. They had come to the end of themselves.
That’s when they looked up and away from themselves and unto God. “They cried to the LORD… and he delivered them….” (v 28). Once they humbled themselves before God, He responded in great power and mercy. He stilled the storm, hushed the sea, and brought them safely to harbor.
Even though we often forget it, this whole dramatic scene reminds us of how small, feeble, and not in control we really are. And, thankfully, it reminds us of how in control Almighty God is. He, by power and prerogative, can stir up or calm down the seas. He rules and overrules according to His own will. What overwhelms us is subject to the commanding word of the Lord. Therefore, we ought always to humbly acknowledge Him in all our ways.
The disciples learned this when they too were suddenly caught up on a raging sea. Jesus was asleep and they were afraid. In a panic, they cried out to Him. The Lord awoke and commanded, “Peace! Be still!” “And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39). Small wonder then that they were “filled with great fear and said….,’Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?'” (Mark 4:40) I have a sneaking suspicion that Psalm 107:29 was coming into view, and they were realizing that Jesus was not merely a man but the God-Man. They were in the presence of the Sovereign Lord!
Like the fourth group of Psalm 107 or the disciples in Mark 4, when we are at our wit’s end let us cry out to the Lord. In His steadfast love, He will command, “Peace! Be still.”
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Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.