Last week we looked at Psalm 107—our focus for the month—through a redemptive lens (where is Jesus in this passage?). This week we’ll use a systematic approach. It asks, “What biblical themes thread throughout this text?” (Another way to systematically read is to look at this particular psalm in the context of the entire book of Psalms. However, since I haven’t been studying the entire book of Psalms, I’ll have an easier time using the themes concept and be more faithful to the Word by doing so.)
Read through the chapter on your own and pick out big motifs you see elsewhere in Scripture. These will be things that appear throughout history in numerous ways and settings. Jot down what you find, and then we’ll compare notes.
The themes that jumped out at me:
- thankfulness (obviously)
- the faithful love of God
- global mission
- human frailty
- crying out to God
- God’s provision
- darkness, death, and bondage
- merciful suffering
- God’s strength
- telling of God’s goodness
- God’s authority over creation
- corporate worship
- sowing and reaping
- proud vs humble
- wicked vs righteous
The better acquainted you are with God’s Word, the more naturally this will come. Discovering the themes in a particular passage is important because it allows us to see the Lord in a different light than just as He is in this immediate context.
For instance, one of the most repetitive messages of Psalm 107 is the scenario of humanity rebelling against God, Him making life hard for them so that they would recognize their need for Him, their repentance, and Him blessing them in return.
While Psalm 107 displays this process a few times, it’s a big story of the Bible (and it’s actually THE story of the Bible). You see it with Adam and Eve, with the Israelites throughout the book of Judges, with Paul, and through the end times in Revelation.
Has this never been the case in your own life? Can you not look back and see how the Lord allowed suffering to course-correct your path in an overwhelming act of mercy? He could have just let you have your own way, but that way leads to destruction. He loved you too much to leave you unhindered in your rebellion. You’ve joined the chorus of praise-people who have experienced such grace. So of course this is a psalm of thanksgiving!
That’s just one example. You could honestly take each one of the themes listed (and any I may have missed that you picked up on) and do a study throughout Scripture, looking at all of the times it comes up. How encouraging to know that our stories are just a few of the billions of stories making up a history of God’s goodness. How comforting to read all He says about suffering and sacrifice. How freeing to remember His long track record of deliverance. We serve a King who is outside of time, yet who still sprinkles Himself all along the timeline so that we can know Him and love Him and be loved by Him.
Which theme speaks most to you in your life right now? How does it spark gratitude?