I will listen to what God the Lord says. Psalm 85:8
“Come at once. We have struck a berg.” Those were the first words Harold Cottam, the wireless operator on the RMS Carpathia, received from the sinking RMS Titanic at 12:25 a.m. on April 15, 1912. The Carpathia would be the first ship to the disaster scene, saving 706 lives.
In the US Senate hearings days later, the Carpathia’s captain Arthur Rostron testified, “The whole thing was absolutely providential. . . . The wireless operator was in his cabin at the time, not on official business at all, but just simply listening as he was undressing. . . . In ten minutes maybe he would have been in bed, and we would not have heard the message.”
Listening matters—especially listening to God. The writers of Psalm 85, the sons of Korah, urged attentive obedience when they wrote, “I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—but let them not turn to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him” (vv. 8–9). Their admonition is especially poignant because their ancestor Korah had rebelled against God and had perished in the wilderness (Numbers 16:1–35).
The night the Titanic sank, another ship was much closer, but its wireless operator had gone to bed. Had he heard the distress signal, perhaps more lives would have been saved. When we listen to God by obeying His teaching, He’ll help us navigate even life’s most troubled waters.
In what ways will you stay attentive to God and the Scriptures today? How can doing so help you to help others?
Father, help me to stay close to You in my thoughts, words, and actions. Please use me as Your servant to bring Your hope to others.
When the book of Psalms was being collected, it was organized into five books: 1–41; 42–72; 73–89; 90–106; and 107–150. Each book concludes with a statement of praise or blessing to God Himself. For example, Book III ends with Psalm 89:52: “Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen.” David is the most well known of the psalmists and most (though not all) of his psalms are found in Books I and II.
Each book is gathered around a particular theme. Book III, which contains Psalm 85, is one of the shorter books but is heavy with psalms of lament—many of which were composed by Asaph or the sons of Korah. With its emphasis on lament, Psalm 85, written by the sons of Korah as a cry for God’s rescue and renewal, fits very well in Book III.