Reflecting on God's Hesed
Psalm 107 is one of my favorites. The psalm reflects the feelings of exuberance of a people that has returned from Babylonian Exile. Israel had so tarnished her covenant of love with Yahweh that he needed to exile her to awaken her to the blessings of matrimony with God.
This psalm however moves beyond the simple historical proclamation of God's hesed to addressing those in all walks of life. Perhaps we could this psalm "The God who Saves in the 'Nick of Time.'"
Four kinds of people have been scattered to the four winds. These people feel the oppression of their own choices and failings in life to some degree or another. The hesed of this psalm is that no matter where one might be . . . Yahweh is a God who is near (cf. Deuteronomy 4.29-31).
The first group wandered "for years in the desert" (v. 4, The Message). Others (v.10) were locked "in a dark cell" of their own making. Having gained a "reputation" so to speak, there was not "a soul in sight to help" (v.12). Those experiencing the hesed of God include those whose bodies and lives are "sick because you'd lived a bad life" (v.17). Indeed these Israelites confess freely that their "bodies [were] feeling the effects of [their] sin." They cannot even stand the sight of food.
Interestingly enough the psalm's last group are simply those who are caught up in the rush of life. They are so busy with business, life, and mundane routines that the hesed of God falls through the cracks of their schedules. But even these folks sooner or later encounter a tsunami in the muck of life . . . when that happens the God of Hesed is nearby.
God grants his incredible hesed to each willingly and joyfully. Psalm 107 has this recurring refrain in response to each person on the trail of life:
"Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God. He got you out in the nick of time" (vv. 6, 13, 16, 28, The Message)
When all seemed hopeless and lost God saved by his grace "in the nick of time." That thunders throughout the psalm and echoes in our ears and hearts as to good to be true. But the Cross of Jesus testifies that far from being to good to be true it is the heart of God.
Psalm 107 ends with a call to meditation and amazement:
"Good people see this and are glad;
bad people are speechless, stopped in their tracks.
If you are really wise, you think this over --
its time you appreciated God's deep love." (vv. 42-43, The Message)
The Psalm is a cry of praise and joy over God's hesed (love and grace). It is also a plea to be overwhelmed in amazement of something to good to be true. The psalm calls us not simply to believe in a God, but to believe in a certain kind of God: Yahweh the Lord of Hesed. Anything less is an idol of our own making.