Reflection on Psalm 107:17-22

Some of the redeemed were fools because of their sinful ways.
They suffered because of their wickedness.
They had absolutely no appetite for food; they had arrived at death’s gates.
So they cried out to the Lord in their distress, and God saved them from their desperate circumstances.
God gave the order and healed them; he rescued them from their pit.
Let them thank the Lord for his faithful love and his wondrous works for all people.
Let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices and declare what God has done in songs of joy!
Psalm 107:17-22 (CEB)

I love when I’m reading Scripture and I have to stop and go back to make sure what I thought I read is what was actually written. It’s always good when Scripture can surprise and unsettle you. We can get pretty stuck in our understanding and interpretation of what we “think” Scripture should say. Today’s Psalm was one of those moments for me. Specifically the opening line of today’s reading.

Some of the redeemed were fools because of their sinful ways.
They suffered because of their wickedness.
Psalm 107:17 (CEB)

Did the Bible just call people who were redeemed fools? Aren’t the redeemed the good guys? Let me check out the Hebrew behind that. Surely the translators could have chosen something nicer than the word “fools.” The Hebrew word behind “fools” is אֱוִיל which is pronounced like “evil”.

Things aren’t getting any better.

If you keep reading, you realize that the redeemed are fools because of their own actions. Some kind of wickedness led to suffering, lack of appetite and impending doom. They got what they deserved, they reaped what they sowed, or (as Paul wrote in Romans) “they were paid back with the penalty they deserved for their mistake in their own bodies” (Romans 1:27, CEB).

Then, as any of us might do, these fools, “cried out to the Lord in their distress.” But, rather than letting them rot in their own mistakes, God saves them.

No payment.

No guilt trip.

No quid pro quo.

No expectations.

No extra divine judgment or punishment.

God immediately sends the order to rescue them and they are redeemed. I have this image of a special forces, or A-Team like, squad of angels waiting and when God gives the go ahead, they drop in and rescue these “fools” from their troubles. While their troubles were self-inflicted and reasonable on account of their wickedness, this does not stop or hinder God from healing them when they cry out to him.

There is no fool beyond the scope of God’s redemption.

No matter what we do, how righteous or unrighteous we are, God’s redemption and salvation are available for all those who are willing to cry out to him. This can seem trite and simple, but it’s true. Statements like this are often stated for the benefit of the “fools” so that they know God’s offer is always open. However, the people who need to hear and realize this are the devout followers. Those who, often because of their devotion, add restrictions, list provisions and effectively try to narrow the scope of salvation.

Those who would say, “Yeah…but…” when the open offer of redemption is presented.

Instead, what this Psalm seems to be saying, is we need to let God do the saving. Let’s let God set the provisions and open the door as wide as it can go. Once people are in, let’s not set further weight and restrictions on their shoulders. Instead, we should, “Let them thank the Lord for his faithful love and his wondrous works for all people. Let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices and declare what God has done in songs of joy!”

Lent is the perfect time to check the foolishness in our own hearts. We could learn a lot from the thanksgiving and praises of those “fools” saved from deaths door and suffering on account of their own choices. Let’s take the time to listen and hear their stories.

Maybe the foolishness in some of our own devotion might get illuminated?

Maybe we’ll realize a need to cry out from the spiritual corner we’ve painted ourselves into?

Maybe we’ll see the desperation in our interpretations?

So every single one of you who judge others is without any excuse. You condemn yourself when you judge another person because the one who is judging is doing the same things…Or do you have contempt for the riches of God’s generosity, tolerance, and patience? Don’t you realize that God’s kindness is supposed to lead you to change your heart and life?
Romans 2:1 & 4 (CEB)

Advertisements

Please share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s