Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say What Exactly?

Some verses from the Bible are so embedded in our collective conscience that they take on a meaning of their own — often quite different from the meaning the original author intended.  And sometimes the solution to properly understanding a text is as simple as looking closely at the context.

Such is the case with Psalm 107:2 –

“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary”

This is a favorite verse of preachers who are looking to garner feedback from the congregation.  The assumption is that this verse is a complete thought that serves as a directive to the redeemed to say that they are indeed redeemed.  Are you redeemed?  Yes?  Well then, say so!

But the simple fact is that even the most basic exegesis and contextual interpretation leads to a completely different — and more important — conclusion.  Here’s what the text actually says —

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good,
            For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
            Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary

 And gathered from the lands,
            From the east and from the west,
            From the north and from the south.

  They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region;
            They did not find a way to an inhabited city.

     They were hungry and thirsty;
            Their soul fainted within them.

     Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble;
            He delivered them out of their distresses.

     He led them also by a straight way,
            To go to an inhabited city.

     Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness,
            And for His wonders to the sons of men!  (Psalm 107:1-8)

So, based on the context, what exactly are the redeemed instructed to say?  That the Lord is good and that His lovingkindness is everlasting.

And what’s the evidence that this is true? He gathered His own — His redeemed — from from all corners of the world, delivering them from the hand of their enemy.

In the historic context, this has to do with God delivering Israel out of Egypt.  For 40 years they wandered in the wilderness, hungry and thirsty.  They cried to the Lord and He delivered them.  He led them to the Promised Land and ultimately to Jerusalem, the place where He placed His name.

So what is the proper reaction?  They should thank the Lord for His lovingkindness and for His wonders to the sons of men.  (That phrase is repeated in verses 15, 21, and 31.)

The Psalm concludes with these words —

Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things,
            And consider the lovingkindnesses of the LORD. (Psalm 107:43)

From start to finish, the theme of this Psalm is God’s goodness and  lovingkindness.  That’s what the redeemed of the Lord are supposed to announce.  This Psalm is not advancing a form of self-assurance or confident boasting in our redemption.  It is meant to be a reminder of the various ways that God delivered Israel.  He is to be glorified for His goodness and His merciful work.  The emphasis is on Him, not on the redeemed.  The redeemed’s only participation in this whole historical account of God’s redemptive work is to admit to His goodness.

And THAT’s what the redeemed are to “say so.”


A nice note of encouragement

The digital world never ceases to amaze me.  People I might otherwise never meet show up in my email and make my day.

IsraelologySo, a little background.  Arnold Fruchtenbaum is the author of a book that I found very helpful and encouraging.  The somewhat daunting title of his book is: Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology.  According to the Ariel Ministries website, “This study was created from Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s landmark research for his doctoral thesis.”

What makes it so special?  Well, twenty years ago I was working to understand Israel’s place in God’s economy.  Israel permeates the Bible and the vast majority of the sacred text either refers directly to, or is influenced by, God’s promises to His chosen people, Israel.  I was tracing the “seed” promises at that time.  David Morris was encouraging me to write a book called “Seedology.”  It was this time of study and wrestling that eventually led to writing the book “Is the Church Israel?

Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s book landed in my lap at a providential moment and sewed together pieces I was wrestling to reconcile.  To be blunt, this is an area of study that is often lacking in general theology and especially in Reformed Theology. Hence, the title of his book.

What I especially appreciated in reading Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s material and listening to some of his lectures is that he approaches the New Testament from a Jewish perspective — you know, the way Jesus’ original followers would have.  And that perspective is missing in far too much of 21st Century Gentile teaching and preaching.  So, all in all, a very helpful book.

Cut to: three months ago.

I was culling through email, as I do pretty much every day — answering questions, steering folk toward resources, thanking people for their encouraging words — when I saw a return address that said “Arnold Fruchtenbaum.”

My first thought: No way.

But, sure enough.  It was a short note from the good doctor saying how much he enjoyed my book.  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  He said some very kind things and asked it I had any plans to publish it.  I told him that the book was free on our website as a pdf download (which I suppose would be the only format he could have read) and that we were working on a Kindle version.

Then I decided to be bold, since he had opened the door, and asked for a quote I could use to promote the book on Amazon.  It took a few months.  He’s a busy guy.  But this past week I received a very nice email and a quote he said I could use.  Coolness.  Absolute coolness.

So, I thought I’d share it with you all.  It’s not everyday that I get this sort of shot in the arm from someone I respect so highly.  Here’s what Dr. Fruchtenbaum wrote:

IsTheChurchIsrael_KindleCover“At a time when Replacement Theology is growing, at a time when more and more churches are turning against Israel, at a time when churches are losing interest in Jewish evangelism, Jim McClarty’s work makes an important contribution towards making believers understand God’s plan and program for Israel and provides valuable biblical tools to prove the church is not Israel, nor has the church taken over Israel’s covenantal promises and that God still intends to fulfill any promise He has made to Israel.” Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum.  President/Founder of Ariel Ministries.

I’ve added that endorsement to our Kindle page.  But, while we’re on the subject, allow me to remind you that we now have three books available on Amazon as Kindle downloads.  And you can get your copy of Is the Church Israel? via Amazon or via our website (under the “Read” link).

Thanks again to Dr. Fruchtenbaum for his kind words and for reaching out.

Arnold finished his email with this sign-off: “Yours for the salvation of Israel.”

I’m right there with you, brother.  I’m right there with you.

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.”  (Romans 10:1)