through His Word
By Katy Kauffman
Psalm 107 is my favorite chapter in the Bible. In this post I want to use the Bible study tools to show you why.
I had done the first six steps years ago— prayed, printed, marked key people and repeated words, paid attention to contrasts and comparisons, looked up a few definitions and read some commentaries. But when I did the seventh step for this blog post, I discovered something new about Psalm 107—some sparkling application. This psalm describes four desperate situations in which people cried out to God, situations that many of us experience today. When we cry out to God, He hears us and He helps.
Let’s apply each of the tools to Psalm 107 and build up to the seventh step—Application. Each tool helps us to see what God is emphasizing and prepares our hearts to receive spiritual insights.
Step #1: Pray
Praying before you begin focuses your attention and dependence on God. Ask Him to guide your study of His Word and help you to see how it applies to your life and circumstances.
Step #2: Print
You can click this link to find a free online source of Scripture, the Blue Letter Bible. Find Psalm 107 (New King James Version), and print it.
Step #3: Mark Key People
Now we get to add some color! Using colored markers or pens, put the same symbol over each mention of the LORD (remember to mark His names and He and Him). I used a red triangle. Mark His names and pronouns all the way through the chapter. Then go back and find each symbol and notice what the psalm is saying about God. Which of these truths apply to us today?
I also found these main characters:
- In v.1-9, mark the redeemed, they, and them with a green R.
- In v.10-16, mark a long description of men—those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death—and they and them with a brown D.
- In v.17-22, mark fools and their pronouns with an orange F.
- In v.23-32, mark those who go down to the sea in ships and their pronouns with a blue wave (as I did).
Notice what Scripture says about each group. What was their problem, and how did God help them?
Step #4: Mark Repeated Words
What’s cool about this chapter is that whole verses are repeated. I put boxes around the repeated verses so they would stand out easily. Each of the four groups of people cried out to the LORD, and He helped them. Draw a box around the verses that begin with: Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble.1
To find the other verse that’s repeated, read the desire of the psalm’s author in v.8, and draw a box around it and every time it's repeated in the chapter. This repeated verse shows what our response should be when we cry out to God today and He rescues us.
Step #5: Contrasts and Comparisons
These may be a little more difficult to see, but they help us to notice what God is emphasizing. As you see in the picture below, I drew a circle around the contrasting words and connected them with a straight line. Then I drew my lightning rods. The contrasts show the depth of the people’s despair versus the healing and transforming work that God did on their behalf. Comparisons are often connected by words such as “like” or “as.” They can also be word pictures such as the phrase in v.18, they drew near to the gates of death, meaning, they almost died. Mark any contrasts and comparisons through the psalm, and consider how they might look in our lives today.
Step #6: Definitions and Commentaries
Sometimes one definition makes a whole passage come alive. I felt that way about the word mercy in Psalm 107. Mercy in v.1 is the same Hebrew word that is translated lovingkindness in v.43, chesed, which means “goodness, kindness, faithfulness.”2 This word shows why God helped these people—because He is good and faithful, as the chapter says again and again (v.1, 8, 15, 21, 31). We can cry out to God because He is good, because His love endures forever, and because He is willing and able to deliver us when we turn to Him. Chesed is used repeatedly in the Old Testament to show the great kindness and faithfulness that God pledges to show His people (1 Chron 17:13, 2 Chron 6:14). It is the deep, sweet love of God, His covenant love.
Commentaries help us understand verses that are unclear to us. They give us background or customs of the times or other information that enriches our take-away from Scripture. But be careful. Some commentators skew their explanations to suit their own doctrines. Compare what they are saying to the full counsel of the Word of God, and reject anything that contradicts certain verses on the subject.
Step #7: Application
This step can be like mining spiritual treasure, like finding nuggets of gold that bless your life from that point forward.
Application shows us how Scripture touches our lives today. It tells us what God wants us to know or what He wants us to do. It enriches our understanding of who God is and how He wants us to relate to Him or to others. Application gives us the how and/or the why along with the instruction. It shows us the reality of spiritual blessings that we have at our disposal and the reasons behind them. Application builds strength, joy, courage, and endurance. It is an entrance into the riches that are ours to possess in Christ.
If we stop studying a chapter or passage of Scripture with Step 6, we will see many facets of truth. We will identify much of what God is emphasizing or teaching. But Step 7 takes us into another level of learning and growing. Application requires thinking through Scripture with God. It is using His words as a basis for God to lead our hearts and minds into greater understanding and to bless them with additional spiritual insights.
Application is subjective for each person, depending on what we see emphasized according to our current circumstances, struggles, concerns, or perspective; but all of it must agree with the full counsel of God’s Word.
Let me share with you the process that I used to develop application for Psalm 107.
1) Noticing the paragraph divisions in the chapter, I wrote a statement for each paragraph stating the people’s problem and God’s solution.
2) Then I turned each statement into an instruction that I could apply to life today.
3) I also wrote a chapter title that showed what all of the paragraphs had in common.
Here is my application for the chapter:
Psalm 107 Cry out to God, and Watch Him Deliver You
v.1-9 Cry out to God when your soul has great need, and He will satisfy it with goodness.
v.10-16 Cry out to God when your rebellion against His word has brought you into bondage, and He will break your chains.
v.17-22 Cry out to God when your sin has brought affliction into your life, and He will send His word to heal you of your destructive ways.
v.23-32 Cry out to God when He allows a storm in your life, and He will send calm (to your soul or to your circumstances).
v.33-43 Look to God and depend on His lovingkindness and protection, because He blesses those who need His help, but He brings judgment on the wicked who oppress them.
I hope this psalm has blessed you as it did me. You may want to develop your own application for it, or try the tools on one of your favorite chapters of the Bible. Leave me a comment if you do. Remember the promise from Psalm 107:9, my favorite verse: God “satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (NKJV). Oh, that we would thank Him for His wonderful works! They are endless.
May God richly bless your study of His Word!
1 All Scripture is New King James Version. Used by permission.
2 Larry Pierce, The Online Bible, CD-ROM (Winterbourne, Ontario: Larry Pierce, 2007), Psalm 107:1.
© Copyright 2014 by Katy Kauffmanpersonal Bible study, How to study the Bible, quiet time, Psalm 107: Cry Out to God—Using 7 Bible Study Tools, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies