107:33-43, 108:1-6(7-13), 33
33He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground,
34a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.
35He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.
36And there he lets the hungry live, and they establish a town to live in;
37they sow fields, and plant vineyards, and get a fruitful yield.
38By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their cattle decrease.
39When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,
40he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
41but he raises up the needy out of distress, and makes their families like flocks.
42The upright see it and are glad; and all wickedness stops its mouth.
43Let those who are wise give heed to these things, and consider the steadfast love of the LORD.
Ps. 107 comes to a dramatic conclusion with these promises for those who follow God. In the midst is the blessings is one that struck me as very important. Verse 41 says, “he raises up the needy out of distress.”
This sentiment of God’s desire for our safety and security is echoed by Isaiah (chapter 61) and other prophets and in Jesus’ Beatitudes (“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”).
The KJV says “yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction” and Strong’s indicates that the translation could also be expanded to read “[God] takes those in want (especially in feeling or spiritually) and places them so far above their misery, depression, or trouble that it cannot touch them.” The Message translates this verse: “He gave the poor a safe place to live.” It seems to me that this verse has more depth than just a safe home, although a secure home is one of the things that many in our world today don’t have. It is hard to have a sense of stability and comfort if you don’t have a place to live.
Sometimes we find it hard to relate to someone who isn't as fortunate as we are. We may think, 'they did something wrong' or 'it's their fault for making wrong decisions'. That may be true, but too often that attitude keeps me (us) from seeing the child of God in front of us.
What can you or I do to help those who do not have the blessing of a house or other security? How can we help to “raise the needy out of distress,” either in their physical or spiritual dwelling?
Maybe we need this prayer by Rabindranth Tagore that reminds us of how our pride can keep us from acting in love:
This is our prayer to thee, our Lord;
Strike, strike at the root of penury in our hearts.
Give us the strength lightly to bear our joys and sorrows.
Give us the strength to make our love fruitful in service.
Give us the strength never to disown the poor or bend our knees before insolent might.
Give us the strength to raise our minds high above daily trifles.
And give us the strength to surrender our strength to thy will with love.
For your journal: Draw a house (it doesn’t have to be elaborate—a box with a pitched roof is just fine). Inside the walls list some things that make you feel secure—physically and spiritually. Outside, list things that make you fearful.
Think about someone who is not as fortunate as you—maybe a refugee, maybe someone whose house is in foreclosure, maybe someone in a war-torn area, maybe a homeless person on the street of your city. Draw a house for them. What can you offer that would help that person feel more secure physically or spiritually? List these things in their house.