Psalms 107:1-43 . Although the general theme of this Psalm may have been suggested by God's special favor to the Israelites in their restoration from captivity, it must be regarded as an instructive celebration of God's praise for His merciful providence to all men in their various emergencies. Of these several are given--captivity and bondage, wanderings by land and sea, and famine; some as evidences of God's displeasure, and all the deliverances as evidence of His goodness and mercy to them who humbly seek Him.
3. gathered--alluding to the dispersion of captives throughout the Babylonian empire.
from the south--literally, "the sea," or, Red Sea ( Psalms 114:3 ), which was on the south.
4-7. A graphic picture is given of the sufferings of those who from distant lands returned to Jerusalem; or,
city of habitation--may mean the land of Palestine.
8, 9. To the chorus is added, as a reason for praise, an example of the extreme distress from which they had been delivered--extreme hunger, the severest privation of a journey in the desert.
10-16. Their sufferings were for their rebellion against ( Psalms 105:28 ) the words, or purposes, or promises, of God for their benefit. When humbled they cry to God, who delivers them from bondage, described as a dark dungeon with doors and bars of metal, in which they are bound in iron--that is, chains and fetters.
shadow of death--darkness with danger ( Psalms 23:4 ).
16. broken--literally, "shivered" ( Isaiah 45:2 ).
17-22. Whether the same or not, this exigency illustrates that dispensation of God according to which sin brings its own punishment.
are afflicted--literally "afflict themselves," that is, bring on disease, denoted by loathing of food, and drawing near unto the gates of death ( Psalms 107:18 ).
18. near unto--literally, "even to"
gates--or, "domains" ( Psalms 9:13 ).
20. sent his word--that is, put forth His power.
their destructions--that is, that which threatened them. To the chorus is added the mode of giving thanks, by a sacrifice and joyful singing ( Psalms 50:14 ).
23-32. Here are set forth the perils of seafaring, futility of man's, and efficiency of God's, help.
go . . . sea--alluding to the elevation of the land at the coast.
24. These see . . . deep--illustrated both by the storm He raises and the calm He makes with a word ( Psalms 33:9 ).
25. waves thereof--literally, "His waves" (God's, Psalms 42:7 ).
27. are . . . end--literally, "all their wisdom swallows up itself," destroys itself by vain and contradictory devices, such as despair induces.
29-32. He maketh . . . calm--or, "to stand to stillness," or "in quiet." Instead of acts of temple-worship, those of the synagogue are here described, where the people with the
assembly--or session of elders, convened for reading, singing, prayer, and teaching.
33-41. He turneth rivers into a wilderness, &c.--God's providence is illustriously displayed in His influence on two great elements of human prosperity, the earth's productiveness and the powers of government. He punishes the wicked by destroying the sources of fertility, or, in mercy, gives fruitfulness to deserts, which become the homes of a busy and successful agricultural population. By a permitted misrule and tyranny, this scene of prosperity is changed to one of adversity. He rules rulers, setting up one and putting down another.
40. wander . . . wilderness--reduced to misery ( Job 12:24 ).
42, 43. In this providential government, good men will rejoice, and the cavils of the wicked will be stopped ( Job 5:16 , Isaiah 52:15 ), and all who take right views will appreciate God's unfailing mercy and unbounded love.