I don’t think we have these particular signs in Australia, but it makes its point clearly – “Dead End”. Not much use going any further, time to turn around and do a complete reversal.
Our psalm today, described by Broyles as “unique in the Psalter” is one concerning the God of reversals.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3 those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
I wonder if you have experienced God as good, whose loves endures forever, and then also experienced Him as the Lord of reversals? If so, the psalmist suggests that its time to tell your story.
Let me begin by very briefly telling you my story of reversal.
There was no doubt about it, my life as a young man was heading down a “dead end” road and, although I didn’t realize it then, I needed to either turn around or be turned around. The problem was that outwardly my life, to some observers, seemed ok. What did I have to complain about? I had completed High School after many people would have considered that an unlikely event some years earlier. I had been able to obtain a cadet-ship as a draftsman with the State Govt. For my age, I was being paid well with prospects for the future. I owned a car, had some friends and even had a girlfriend. But, in reality, deep down my life was heading for shipwreck due to having very few positive role models in my life and having very few life skills to enable to me make good choices in life. I was living by “trial and error” and both of those increased as I endeavoured to blindly work my way through the hazards of life.
Now the reason Broyles speaks of this psalm as “unique” is because “it does not celebrate Israel’s corporate experience as a people or refer to any particular historical events or traditions. Rather, it rehearses the deliverances of various unspecified groups of individuals.” (# 4)
Those groups are:
4 Some wandered in desert wastelands…
5 They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away…
10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains…
17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities…
23 Some went out on the sea in ships…
[God] spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves…
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.
As we continue to read these descriptions though, it is revealed that each group calls on the Lord in their distress and God answers – He reverses their situation!
6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress…
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
I also eventually cried out to the Lord, but not until He revealed that He actually existed and He did that through getting me to read, for the first time in my life, the story of Jesus in the New Testament (NT).
I picked it up one day from a friend’s bookshelf and could not put it down until I had read the whole NT. My girlfriend actually said to me, “That book is affecting you!” She was right. She could see that the longer I read the Word of God the less I could happily lead the type of life I had been previously living with her and others.
Believe it or not, I was actually very unhappy reading the Bible. His words were challenging every thing I believed and everything I was doing. I was sensing my guilt before a Holy God. I was becoming very unsatisfied with the things everyone else was saying should satisfy me and make me happy. I was sensing my emptiness without a right relationship with my Maker.
So, like those described in this psalm, I cried out to the Lord in [my] trouble,
and he delivered [me] from [my] distress…
On the 8th February 1970 the great reversal took place when I decided to become a follower of Jesus and allow Him to lead me through the perils of life into His eternal Kingdom. The best decision I have ever made.
And because of this I am able, just like those described in this psalm, to 8 … give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
So, what’s your story?