Jesus Prepackaged

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays—commercialism hasn’t really warped it into something it’s not, and it’s unique among the nations. For Christians especially, November ushers in a returning to contentment, gratitude for abundance (or even just enough), and remembering the God who never fails us. But the idea of expressing thanks isn’t new by any means. It started long ago and continues with our every breath. The book of Psalms includes numerous songs of deep appreciation, the psalms of thanksgiving. I’d like to spend each Friday this month dwelling on one of these offerings to the Lord—Psalm 107.

Let’s get acquainted with the text. Go ahead and read through it in a translation you like (I love the ESV and Message versions). We’ll take different approaches of processing it throughout the month, beginning with a redemptive reading.

All of Scripture points to Christ, whispering His name, and this passage is no different. Hundreds of years before the earthly arrival of Jesus, we run into a party being thrown for Him. Pretty cool, right? You can do that when you’re both the Author and the Hero of history.

Take your time and dwell on Psalm 107, pondering the following two prompts: where do you see Jesus in this psalm? What threads of the gospel are weaved through?

No rush. Come back when you’re done. (And I dare you to read it without feeling a sense of triumph and overwhelming thankfulness!)

God’s goodness is a central theme of this psalm, and the clearest evidence of God’s goodness in all of history is the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. The psalmist got a taste of divine provision that would be embodied by Jesus centuries later. There are several mentions of redemption, rescue, and deliverance scattered along the song. Our best and truest redemption, rescue, deliverance: God the Son.

Verses 2 and 3 apply immediately to the dispersed Jews, but in a broader sense to us, recipients of grace from all nations. And verses 4 through 6: what believer has not wandered, crying out to the Lord? The gospel’s tendrils of sin made right run through this psalm. We find that each difficulty was really only a mercy meant to draw us back into the arms of love. God has continually blocked us from being our own ruin.

Verse 14 is what we’ll spend eternity talking about. Our dark places and bindings are so unique, but the Rescuer is always the same. Bold. Compassionate. Set on our freedom with a ferocity that’s honestly a bit uncomfortable for us.

It’s really hard to read verse 16 without hearing the echo of Jesus’ mission statement from Isaiah in Luke 4:18—“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

And how can you keep the story of Christ calming the storm out of your mind when you read verse 29? Talk about foreshadowing! God is the master of literary devices! Doesn’t verse 32 sound eerily similar to the scene with the Lamb in Revelation 5? (I’m totally geeking out right now. I’ll be fine.)

100 points if you caught the same verse that appears four times. Any takers?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using a redemptive lens to filter this psalm of thanksgiving. Next week we’ll be a little more systematic in our approach (wink, wink: spoilers). But for now, for us to see the risen Christ, the lamb who was slain and is worthy to be praised—to see Him anticipated by His ancestors like this, celebrated and lifted high and gloried in? It’s just one more thing to be thankful for.

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