I find that I have delayed this ramble for over a month. It is however timely, as all thing are, with God. As the psalmist says, ‘He perfects everything concerning the day, and prospers the works of our hands.’ God’s ways are not ours and all that He does is beyond our human thought, and I’m not going to argue with that.
Psalm 107, gives us a general overview into the condition of the ramblings of God’s people. It tells of how they journeyed through the nations; some wandered in the desert, some in darkness, some in their foolishness and some by selling their wares upon the seas. Verse 35 onwards , is the better known part of this psalm. It speaks of God turning the desert into pools of water, and the rich fruit that grows upon the dry parched plains when harmony ensues. It goes on to remind us of the benevolence of our God and the abundance that comes from His great mercies and forgiveness.
My focus, however, is upon the previous verses, starting in v23. Let’s have a look.
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 were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
These passages specifically speak about those who do their trade by the sea; the fishermen and merchants of goods. We are told that they saw the wonders of the works of God. They were aware of the tranquil calm waters and the tempest that could come at any time. They understood the dangers, the depths, the winds and the storm. We apply all the conditions to our own troubles and trials. In various degrees they affect us all.
We see how the sailors are tossed in the tempest. They cry to God for help. I am reminded of the story of Jonah and how fear for their lives, swept over the crew of the ship on which Jonah had tried to escape from God’s instruction.
The sea and the ship are symbolic of our own life’s journey; peace and calm, storms and winds abound.
But let us look at a reality. Very few of us are worthy of holding the prestigious rank of a sea captain. Whether one should pilot a great sea-going vessel carrying hundreds of passengers or a fisherman of a small boat and a few men, the responsibilities and skills required are immense. Before every outward journey, courses are planned and the weather system is attained. Modern technology, though complicated, aids the task today, but not so long ago the weather was obtained by watching the clouds and the routes sailed were learned by tragedy and hard experience and passed down from father to son. Knowing the forecast and the route determined whether a boat and its crew would go out on the day. Sometimes, in moments of desperation, a fisherman short of his weekly catch, may make the decision to go out to see, though conditions may not be perfect and unwelcoming. The need to buy and sell, and to earn your daily bread, present difficult decisions.
For us non sailors and fishermen, our daily living and survival presents its own difficult decisions. Wisdom and discernment must be our constant shipmate and barometer.
God, through His watchful eye, sees our distress and hears the cries for help. Our cry for help must however, come before we are hurled over into the crashing waves or before we hit the crushing rocks. God sees all things good and bad and that includes our faith or doubt.
The psalmist writes,
‘ Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
Out of every calamity, and in every perfect situation, at all times in fact, praise must be given to God. Every believer must understand this.
So why is it that we often wait for times of hardship and trouble to call out to Him. God does answer us only when we call out of difficulty. He answers us when we are not. Praise with a contrite and humble heart is the main conduit in which our worship of Him is carried.
Psalm 106 says,
44 Yet he took note of their distress
when he heard their cry;
45 for their sake he remembered his covenant
and out of his great love he relented.
Psalm 105 says,
39 He spread out a cloud as a covering,
and a fire to give light at night.
40 They asked, and he brought them quail;
he fed them well with the bread of heaven.
41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed like a river in the desert.
42 For he remembered his holy promise
given to His servant Abraham.
43 He brought out his people with rejoicing,
his chosen ones with shouts of joy;
44 he gave them the lands of the nations,
and they fell heir to what others had toiled for—
45 that they might keep his precepts and observe his laws.
Does God allow us to experience calamity through some sadistic bent side of His character, or could it be that the whole purpose is for us to learn that He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, all faithful and all merciful? All of what transpires, the problem and the solution are for His great name’s sake and not for ours. Our growth in Him, and by the ministry of His Spirit , through Christ, should teach us that faith in Him conquers the greatest of fear and the largest of all giants. Jesus calmed the storm because He knew the dynamics of its creation or in other words, why and how it happens. We have yet to learn this and the forces that shape it. We walk upon the waters and are delivered from the depths only by faith.
The benevolence of our great God is there to bring us into the land of His promise, the promise given to Abraham His servant. In the land, we are placed to live by the precepts of His law and under the covenant.
Remember this — the seafarer, whether workman or traveller, inhabits the confines of the ship; whether on the calm or on the storm, they travel together. It is not up to them to decide which course to take. It is up to the Captain — He who is in charge. Everyone on board must obey the maritime law, that he himself obeys. They must listen to those commands passed down by His faithful and heed them — not even the boat can decide its own course.
If a sudden storm should come by chance, if the conditions prevail to such a degree that lives are placed in jeopardy, then the decision to change course may be the wise option. If you should find yourself on dry land, then a time of waiting must ensue until the conditions are right. Wisdom must circumvent the situation
A desperate decision to take the chance is folly. We must remember that God is in charge of our ship. Some storms are there to ride out, and an experienced captain knows how to do that and if indeed he should. Finding ourselves on too many difficult journeys, unable to make decisions and spending far too long in periods of uncertainty and confusion, may only go to prove that we are not in control.
When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
when the wicked rule, the people groan.
When an unwise Captain, thinks only of himself and continually puts his crew in danger, rumbles of mutiny begin. A nation can be led by unwise captains. On terra firma, the rumbles of the people stir up revolution and rebellion. When the people of God, as it is shown, display such rumbles, and consider God’s laws unjust, their actions are noticed and God calls this rebellion. Rebellion against God is evil. It is the people who must change, not God’s law. It is well to consider the outcome of mutiny on the high seas.
In the English, God is referred to in the Lord’s prayer as ‘Our father in Heaven’ — in Hebrew, ‘Abba Shebashmayim,' ‘Father of the waters’.