Does the Bible ever surprise you?
So often, verses jump out at me that I know I’ve read before—but suddenly they resonate.
Case in point.
First15 is my daily devotional, and recently, the passage of the day was Psalm 107. While listening via the audio option on the Bible app, I did a double take when the audio voice got to verses 18-20. Did I just hear what I think I just heard?
After the chapter ended, I backed out of the audio to the text page, and read through the entire chapter. Sure enough, verses 18-20 were EXACTLY what I thought I heard.
“18 They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. 19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 20 He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.”Psalm 107:18-20 (NIV)
It was the “loathed all food” that spoke to me most. Is this referencing eating disorders? I questioned. Given that I recovered from a ten year battle with bulimia in 2016, you could say I’m all too familiar with loathing food and the calories that come with it.
Of course, the researcher in me re-read the entire chapter again and did a quick search of Bible commentaries to better understand the context. While not even close to being an exhaustive study, here’s what I gathered:
The meaning behind Psalm 107:18
To start, the verse right before it, verse 17 (NIV) reads: “Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.” Then verse 18 again: “They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death.”
First, I want to note that some translations replace “food” with “meat.” The King James version, for example, uses “meat.” However, when the King James Bible was first translated from Hebrew to English, the word “meat” often meant all food—not meat in the literal sense of the word we use today. Read this for reference.
Next, a few commentaries I read noted that “affliction” was a sickness that led them to lose their appetites. Of course, that can happen to someone when ill, so it fits with the “loathed all food” statement of verse 18. This was an explanation that made perfect sense in my brain.
My thoughts on Psalm 107:17-18
For me, my bulimia was an “affliction.” It caused me pain and suffering. It felt like a sickness. This post is not meant to get into the mental illness discussion of eating disorders; however, I will say that I knew I was making a choice the first time I threw up, and, deep down, I knew it was a foolish one. Yet, I did it anyway. All that to say, verses 17 and 18 sum up my eating disorder experience pretty well.
But that’s not where the story ends.
These verses are my recovery story. Out of desperation—when I felt utterly hopeless and trapped in my bulimia—I did cry out to God. And, when I finally let go of my own striving and trusted Him with my recovery, YES AND AMEN… He did save me and heal me and rescue me from death.
Truly, I was not living during those years I struggled with my eating disorder. Physically, mentally, spiritually, I was slowly dying. So those words… “gates of death” and “grave”… those are not an exaggeration based on my experience.
But that’s not where the story ends either!
Once God saves and heals and rescues, there is more to be done.
“21 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. 22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.”Psalm 107:21-22
While thank offerings are no longer required since Jesus died and rose for our sins, the rest is a very accurate description of how to respond when God saves you from the grave—or any struggle in your life. Let’s break it down.
Give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
God NEVER failed me during those ten years I struggled with bulimia. He was waiting for ME to acknowledge I needed Him because He doesn’t force us to trust Him or do what He thinks is best. He gives us free will. At that time in my life, my free will was to rebel against Him and what I knew was right.
When I WAS ready to trust Him, He did not fail me. He never stopped loving me all those years. I know this to be true because I never stopped feeling His love. I just stopped wanting to feel it out of guilt.
God’s love is unfailing and deserves my thanks.
…and his wonderful deeds
What were His deeds? Well, for me, He sent me HOPE. The exact form of hope I needed to recover. He also healed me, body and soul. As you might imagine, ten years of bulimia did a number on my health and my mentality. God graciously allowed my physical body to repair and grow strong again. He led me to truth, joy, contentment, and LIFE that I didn’t think I would ever feel again, let alone deserve.
Let them… tell of his works with songs of joy
This part right here is the reason you are even reading this. My recovery story is one I cannot keep to myself. God’s goodness in my life fills me with joy overflowing! I will sing His praise for this victory in my life for as long as I have breath.
I also want to “tell of his works” because I know there are SO many in this world in desperate need of hope. That same hope I lacked before my recovery. Sharing my story of hope with a joyful heart is my purpose to help as many people as I can. My heart aches for anyone who feels what I once felt.
Hope and joy and life are possible. I want that for YOU, if you’re reading this and in need of that.
How these verses help
Without question, these verses are a message of hope to anyone suffering with an ed.
If you’re struggling, I pray that you will see and believe this as a promise from God that if you let go and trust Him, He will be your strength in recovery.
Or, if you know someone who is struggling and you don’t know what to say, I hope these verses help you spread some hope. While it can be hard to spread hope to others when you haven’t experienced a struggle yourself, it’s important to remember that God is the ultimate source of hope—more than any person or any story. It all points to Him.
If you’re pointing people to Him, you’re spreading hope.
If you need hope, look to His promises. They’re true and I am living proof.