Lent Blog Week 5- Laura Bulk

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Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So 

Psalm 107

1 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.

4 Some wandered in desert wastelands,
    finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5 They were hungry and thirsty,
    and their lives ebbed away.
6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way
    to a city where they could settle.
8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
9 for he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
    prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
    and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
    they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
    and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
    and cuts through bars of iron.

17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
    and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
18 They loathed all food
    and drew near the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them;
    he rescued them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
    and tell of his works with songs of joy.

23 Some went out on the sea in ships;
    they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the Lord,
    his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
    that lifted high the waves.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
    in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
    they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
    the waves of the sea[b] were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
    and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
    and praise him in the council of the elders.

33 He turned rivers into a desert,
    flowing springs into thirsty ground,
34 and fruitful land into a salt waste,
    because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
35 He turned the desert into pools of water
    and the parched ground into flowing springs;
36 there he brought the hungry to live,
    and they founded a city where they could settle.
37 They sowed fields and planted vineyards
    that yielded a fruitful harvest;
38 he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
    and he did not let their herds diminish.

39 Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled
    by oppression, calamity and sorrow;
40 he who pours contempt on nobles
    made them wander in a trackless waste.
41 But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
    and increased their families like flocks.
42 The upright see and rejoice,
    but all the wicked shut their mouths.

43 Let the one who is wise heed these things
    and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.

(the reading from the lectionary for this blog is actually just verses 1-3, 17-22, but I reflected about the whole passage – and I can’t resist the beauty of scripture, so gave you the whole thing). 

I am overdue writing this blog. Honestly, a big part of that is I couldn't decide between all the wonderful treasures I learned through my study of Psalm 107. I urge you to read it again. Observe the story in this psalm. Observe what is repeated. Notice the patterns. 

For this short blog I decided to comment on a word used in the first and final verses (and a few times between) because it relates to our Lenten theme of covenant. 

Steadfast love (two words in English, but one in Hebrew) 

First, a disclaimer: I am sadly unable to read ancient Hebrew. What I've learned about this word comes from reading a variety of sources online and elsewhere. I share my reflections based on this passage, time spent meditating on it, and the adjacent readings/listening I’ve done. I am open to correction and instruction from those more knowledgeable in the area. 

The Hebrew word hesed is used here in Psalm 107, and our English translation just doesn't seem to do it justice (as, I think, is oft the case). Hesed does not just mean lovingkindness, steadfast love, or mercy (frequently used translations). Hesed is loyal, dependable, committed lovingkindness. Hesed can also be referred to as covenant love – it is devoted love that makes one willing to dedicate their love and commitment in a solemn promise. God’s hesed does not, however, flow from a covenantal obligation, but rather from his very nature. God’s steadfast, devoted, unwavering love 

In this time of Lent, we have the opportunity to reflect on God’s story of redemption. By looking back and recalling through the stories depicted in our series of lectionary readings (which, by the by, I encourage you to read – we are united with the Church globally in reading these same passages together, to me that seems powerful!), we see over and over how God is faithful to his covenant with the people of Israel even when they are not. Over and over, Israel strays from the good path God has for them. They do not remember the covenant, and they forget God’s faithful deeds. We are grafted into Israel, and this is also our story – we stray from the path God has laid before us, The Church. We wander in desert wastes, we choose to sit in darkness, we behave as fools through our sinful ways, and we take destructive paths. 

I confess that too often I wander away from God’s story for me, from his good paths…am I alone in this? If not, please join me, as we cry to the Lord in our trouble, for he will surely deliver us from our distress. God offers hesed (lovingkindness) even to us – those in disgrace and in need of redemption. 

O Lord, You’ve shown us mercy; Sinners are washed as saints You’ve shown Your loving-kindness (hesed); 

We the disgraced are righteous made. God, in his hesed, has mercy on us. He is faithful and steadfast...here is love, vast as the ocean, hesed as the flood! I seize this opportunity to thank the Lord for his hesed, and to extol him in the (virtual) congregation of the people. 

Have you been redeemed, gathered from east and west, north and south? Are you redeemed from trouble? YES! 

We are the redeemed of the Lord. Let us tell of his deeds in songs of joy! Let us consider deeply the hesed of the Lord, let us be wise and give heed to the deeds of the Lord – demonstrations of his hesed for those he has made.

Redemption Church

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