Yesterday we read of the Pilgrims’ abundant first harvest in their new home and their three-day thanksgiving celebration. But there is another side to this story, and it is that the good times were succeeded by hard times again. As far as the Pilgrims were concerned, there was anxiety over divisions caused by people who arrived at the colony from other places, distress at being cheated by ship captains who had hoped to profit at the Pilgrims’ expense, and fear of war with more distant Indian tribes. And, of course, the crops sometimes also failed or did poorly, and sicknesses returned.

In the first two parts of Psalm 107,,the introduction (vv. 1-3) and the overview of the diverse deliverances of the people of God (vv. 4-32), we have followed the first half of that stanza. We have seen how God delivers his people from the many dangers, toils and snares of this life—specifically from wandering in desert lands, wasting away in prison, perishing because of acute illnesses, and from perils at sea. Now we are to see how he also brings us home, anchoring our souls in a safe harbor at last. 

In the opinion of many commentators the most beautiful, most poetic and certainly the most stirring section of Psalm 107 is the part that describes the peril of God's people while at sea (vv. 23-32). Although it was not, it might have been written as a description of that difficult sixty-five day late-fall crossing of the turbulent North Atlantic by the Pilgrim fathers and their families. A person needs to have been on the ocean in a great storm to appreciate how accurate those frightening words from verses 23-32 are.

As we read in yesterday's study, we have been slaves to sin, but by his atoning death we have been forever liberated. Can we not each say that we have “rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High,” as the psalmist does in verse 11, and that God “brought [us] out of the darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away [our] chains," as he does in verse 14? Shouldn't we thank God for that deliverance? The refrain says (with appropriate variation from verses 8, 9), “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.”

Yesterday we looked at the example of homelessness as the first peril described in this psalm. In our congregation at Tenth Presbyterian Church we have many people who have been homeless but who have cried out to the Lord and been given homes to live in. They are thankful for their homes. But how about yourself? Even if you have never been homeless and have always had a home, should you not be even more grateful than those who have only been given homes recently?