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An egalitarian Conservative congregation serving the diverse Orange County Jewish Community

Psalm 107

Power is the ability to effect change. Psalm 107 celebrates God’s power to enable us to overcome life’s challenges, marked by four scenarios: crossing through wasteland; imprisonment; illness; and the dangers of the sea. These situations can be viewed historically, such as the desert trek referencing the Israelites march to the Promised Land or more broadly as a metaphor for various human vulnerabilities. God, the Psalms instruct, hears our cry and with kindness enables change toward safe harbor, health, and harvest.

Psalm 107 begins the fifth book of Psalms. Ahead are verses regularly sung in our communal prayer: Hallel (113-117); Psalms of Ascent (120-134) and Ashrei-plus (145-150). Psalm 107 repeatedly uses language also found in Isaiah, the prophet who preached in the 6th century before the Common Era at a time of Babylonian exile and the promise of return. There are also echoes of Job. And yet, Psalm 107’s stirring images and weave are distinctly its own. The nautical description in the Psalm is included in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick and was often recited at the start of a sea voyage. In Israel today, this Psalm is the first reading for the liturgy of Israeli Independence Day.

As we begin the final book of Psalm, we are given words to celebrate God’s wonders and to acknowledge that life is incomplete and even dangerous. The fifth book of Psalms cultivates a faith that enables seeing goodness now, prompting gratitude, along with the hope of a world of even greater wholeness.

Join me as we explore Psalm 107 together.

Our study this morning is dedicated to Ed Heyman and his completion of the 30 days of mourning his father, Marshall (Mike/Menasha) Heyman.