O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those he redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. (Psalm 107:1-3)
JUST SAY SO!
Way back in the 1980s there was a massive anti-drug campaign in the United States that was promoted and popularized by First Lady Nancy Reagan. The catch phrase of the campaign was “Just Say No!” (Remember that?) The theory behind the campaign was the brainchild of Social Psychologist Richard I. Evans. He called it the “social inoculation model.” The idea is that young people could be taught to resist peer pressure and other social influences and could therefore make decisions to “just say no” to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and other potentially harmful behaviors. The campaign had pretty mixed results. In fact, two studies at the time showed that students enrolled in behavior-control programs actually became MORE likely to engage in the behaviors they intended to curb!
Apparently, the power of suggestion and peer pressure is a pretty potent force!
In Psalm 107, there isn’t any talk of drugs and alcohol, but the writer employs some stories and examples to make the case that our testimony, suggestion and peer influence can be a powerful force for good as well as ill.
The song begins with a familiar psalm refrain: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!” (vs. 1). But then, rather than simply telling us how he thinks God is good and loving, or why he believes God is deserving of our thanks and praise, the writer challenges us to fill in those blanks:
“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so…” (vs. 2)
In other words, “What’s YOUR story?” If you have been “redeemed from trouble,” if you’ve been “gathered in” by this good and loving God…JUST SAY SO! Or as Eugene Peterson translates it:
All of you that are set free by God, tell the world! Tell how he freed you from oppression, then rounded you up from all over the place… (Psalm 107:2-3, The Message)
The psalmist shares some of the kinds of stories he’s heard. There are the wanderers—those who were lost and alone—in need of God’s presence and providence (vs. 4-9); there are the condemned sinners—who had received God’s mercy and forgiveness (vs. 10-16); there are those who had become sick because of their own bad decisions, and God was still willing and able to heal them (vs. 17-22); there were stories of everyday working people who asked for and received God’s supernatural peace and protection (vs. 23-32). The writer summarizes all of these stories by concluding that our God is a friend to the weak, the homeless, and the needy; and our God also fights against wickedness, injustice and oppression in the world (vs. 33-41). Therefore, he writes:
“Let those who are wise give heed to these things, and consider the steadfast love of the Lord.” (vs. 43)
If we are wise, the psalmist suggests, then we should pay attention to what God is doing…we should consider his steadfast love…we should give Him all the thanks and praise that He is due.
But the psalmist is also suggesting we do more than just ponder God’s steadfast love and kindness—we should take every opportunity to tell other people about it so they too can “give heed,” and “consider.” If we have been redeemed, saved, delivered, healed, and comforted by God in some way, we should JUST SAY SO.
In the same ways that social and peer pressures can sometimes steer us in the wrong direction, those kinds of influences can also serve to point people to Jesus! What has he rescued you from? How has he changed your life? What has he been doing for you, or in you, or through you lately? And with whom have you shared your stories?
Peter, a first-hand disciple of Jesus, knew that God was good and loving—in fact, he had some stories to tell! He was a fearless, “just say so” follower of Jesus. Peter writes this: “In your hearts revere Christ as Lord, and always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you have in him.” (1 Peter 3:15) Like the writer of Psalm 107, Peter knew it isn’t enough just to acknowledge God’s love and goodness…it is also up to us to share that good news with everyone around us. If we have that kind of hope in Christ, we should SAY SO! Jesus is our hope, and he is the only real hope for the world. Stay thirsty for him–and share the life, my friends.