The preacher shouts: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”
The people respond with their dutiful “Amen!”
I remember the first time I heard an exchange like this in a church setting. The pastor had been on one of those more passionate parts of his sermon, where this cadence quickens, his voice raises, and his hand motions could land a plane.
When he wrapped up his passionate appeal with “let the redeemed of the Lord say so,” I’ll admit I was wondering what exactly I was supposed to be saying. But I quickly learned that this “let the redeemed of the Lord say so” was a call for an “amen” response.
It was almost like saying “If you’re redeemed, then you’ll agree with what I just said, so tell me you agree with that ‘amen.’”
It wasn’t until later that I realized this phrase actually comes from the Bible. It comes from Psalm 107:2, and it doesn’t seem to be quite the call and response that it was in that little church so many years ago. What does this verse mean?
What Is the Context of Psalm 107:2?
It’s helpful to understand Bible verses in their original context. This is especially true in the Psalms. Most believe that the Psalms are just a collection of songs compiled together.
Even inexperienced Bible readers know that we should look for a structure of a book like Genesis or Colossians.
But we don’t look for a structure to the Psalms. We tend to view them individually. But I would contend that this has been mistaken. Just like the other books of the Bible, the Psalms are compiled to tell a story.
Psalm 107 begins the fifth book of the Psalms. The Psalms are broken into five different sections. It’s likely that this division is inspired by the five books of the Torah. But there is also a bit of a narrative flow to these books as well.
If the Psalms were finally compiled after the Babylonian exile, the structure would lend itself to encouraging the newly returning people of God that hope was to be had.
The darkness of Psalm 88-89 (as book three comes to a close) is mitigated by the Lord’s sovereign action in book four. Book five is about living in the Lord’s rescue.
The structure of the Book of Psalms is similar to the major plot outline of the Bible. God creates, humanity ruins all that is good in creation and is living out of a curse, but God acts to rescue broken and rebellious people and ultimately will dwell with them for all eternity in a restored heaven and earth.
O. Palmer Robertson says it well: “Psalm 107 serves as an introduction to the final phase of the Psalter, which focuses on the climactic restoration of worship for God’s people at Yahweh’s permanent dwelling place in Jerusalem.”
Psalm 107, then, is setting the stage for God’s climactic rescue and the people’s response of worship. It is a call to worship, but not quite in the way it was used in that little country church. But first, we need to see how Psalm 107 is different than Psalms 105 and 106.
How Is Psalm 107 Different?
If you read Psalms 105, 106, and 107 they seem to be a unit. They each begin with “Oh, give thanks to the LORD.”
It might seem surprising, then, that Psalm 107 is placed in book five, but the other two psalms close out book four. Keep in mind that unlike our chapter divisions these divisions we do believe are inspired by God.
Why, then, is Psalm 107 in its own book? Consider what is different about this Psalm. Psalms 105 and 106 declare the Lord’s faithful dealing with his people in years past. It tells of how God rescued them while in foreign lands.
Psalm 105 and 106 would be like a citizen in 2022 looking back upon the history of your family and your nation and tracing God’s hand upon your ancestors.
Psalm 106 ends with this plea: “Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.”
This Psalm is like saying, “You’ve done it in the past, now do it in our generation.” And Psalm 107 is the answer to those petitions. It is why it begins the fifth book of the Psalms.
But it encourages us to ask, “God has been faithful to me as well, how then should I respond?” Or to circle back to our original question, what exactly are the redeemed supposed to be proclaiming?
What Exactly Are the Redeemed Supposed to Say?
Psalm 107:1 gives the answer to our question. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” What we are supposed to be proclaiming is the goodness and faithfulness of the LORD. Not only to other generations but specifically to us.
Specifically for the psalmist in Psalm 107, the LORD has “redeemed from the hand of the foe” and has “gathered from the lands.” God has specifically answered the plea for rescue.
To be redeemed means to be bought back, to be rescued. It is connected with the practice of a kinsman-redeemer who would rescue a close relative from debt or slavery.
God has done exactly this. He has taken the exiled peoples, paid their debt, and has now redeemed them and gathered them back into their land.
And God pulled his people out of exile and gathered them again. But these great acts of redemption were only pointing to the greatest act of redemption; namely, the rescue, which Jesus Christ provided.
He has rescued us from sin and death. And it is through Him that we will be ultimately gathered together as one.
How, then, do we apply Psalm 107:2 today? If Jesus has rescued you, then just as the psalmist declares we are to say so. We are to tell of God’s goodness and mercy to us. Or as the NIV says, those who are redeemed are to “tell their story.”
What Does This Mean?
Psalm 107:2 is not merely a call to give a preacher an “amen.” But it is a call to respond to the mighty acts of God. If God has redeemed, you from something (and if you are a Christian he has) then you are called to declare His mighty works.
You are called to not only tell your story but called to share how your story is just one more piece of evidence that the Lord is good and faithful. We are not to be shy about the Lord’s work in our life.
Have you been rescued by Jesus?
Then let the redeemed of the LORD declare God’s goodness and faithfulness to you.
For further reading:
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Marinela Malcheva
Mike Leake is husband to Nikki and father to Isaiah and Hannah. He is also the lead pastor at Calvary of Neosho, MO. Mike is the author of Torn to Heal and Jesus Is All You Need. His writing home is http://mikeleake.net and you can connect with him on Twitter @mikeleake. Mike has a new writing project at Proverbs4Today.
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