PSALM 107 OVERVIEW.
SUBJECT, etc. This is a choice song for the redeemed of the Lord ( Psalms 107:2 ). Although it celebrates providential deliverances, and therefore may be sung by any man whose life has been preserved in time of danger; yet under cover of this, it mainly magnifies the Lord for spiritual blessings, of which temporal favours are but types arid shadows. The theme is thanksgiving, and the motives for it. The construction of the psalm is highly poetical, and merely as a composition it would be hard to find its compeer among human productions. The bards of the Bible hold no second place among the sons of song.
Division. The psalmist commences by dedicating his poem to the redeemed who have been gathered from captivity, Psalms 107:1-3 ; he then likens their history to that of travellers lost in the desert, Psalms 107:4-9 ; to that of prisoners in iron bondage, Psalms 107:10-16 ; to that of sick men, Psalms 107:17-22 ; and to that of mariners tossed with tempest, Psalms 107:23-32 . In the closing verses the judgment of God on the rebellious, and the mercies of God to his own afflicted people are made the burden of the song, Psalms 107:33-42 ; and then the psalm closes with a sort of summing up, in Psalms 107:43 , which declares that those who study the works and ways of the Lord shall be sure to see and praise his goodness.
Verse 1. O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good. It is all we can give him, and the least we can give; therefore let us diligently render to him our thanksgiving. The psalmist is in earnest in the exhortation, hence the use of the interjection "O", to intensity his words: let us be at all times thoroughly fervent in the praises of the Lord, both with our lips and with our lives, by thanksgiving and thanks living. JEHOVAH, for that is the name here used, is not to be worshipped with groans and cries, but with thanks, for he is good; and these thanks should be heartily rendered, for his is no common goodness: he is good by nature, and essence, and proven to be good in all the acts of his eternity. Compared with him there is none good, no, not one: but he is essentially, perpetually, superlatively, infinitely good. We are the perpetual partakers of his goodness, and therefore ought above all his creatures to magnify his name. Our praise should be increased by the fact that the divine goodness is not a transient thing, but in the attribute of mercy abides for ever the same, for his mercy endureth for ever. The word endureth has been properly supplied by the translators, but yet it somewhat restricts the sense, which will be better seen if we read it, "for his mercy forever." That mercy had no beginning, and shall never know an end. Our sin required that goodness should display itself to us in the form of mercy, and it has done so, and will do so evermore; let us not be slack in praising the goodness which thus adapts itself to our fallen nature.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. Dr. Lowth, in his 20th prelection, remarks of this psalm: -- No doubt the composition of this psalm is admirable throughout; and the descriptive part of it adds at least its share of beauty to the whole; but what is but most to be admired is its conciseness, and withal the expressiveness of the diction, which strikes the imagination with inimitable elegance. The weary and bewildered traveller, the miserable captive in the hideous dungeon, the sick dying man, the seaman foundering in a storm, are described in so affecting manner, that they far exceed anything of the kind, though never so laboured. I may add that had such an Idyle appeared in Theocritus or Virgil or had it been found as a scene in any of the Greek tragedians, even in Aeschylus himself, it would probably have been produced as their master piece. --Adam Clarke.
Whole Psalm. I do not believe that the special care of God over his own people is here rather indirectly than directly touched upon, and that therefore this Psalm is composed to illustrate the general care of God:
Whole Psalm. The psalm divides itself into five parts; the four first, as it should seem, describing four divisions of the returning Israelites, and recounting the particular accidents that had befallen each party on their journey, and the particular mercies for which they ought to be thankful. The fifth part describes what befalls the collected nations, or a part of them, when they arrive at the land which was the object of their journey -- I think the first restoration or colonization before the general gathering. Whether the four divisions of travellers are supposed to come exactly from the four distinct quarters of the earth, perhaps is not quite certain. The first divisions are plainly described ( Psalms 107:4-5 ), as coming across the desert, and meeting with all the disasters usual on that route. -- John Fry.
Whole Psalm. Without insisting on an exclusive application of this psalm to Israel, there may be traced, I think, not indistinctly, the leading incidents of the nation's changeful experience in the descriptive language of the narrative part.
In Psalms 107:4-7 the story of the wilderness is briefly told, to the praise of the glory of his grace who satisfieth the longing soul and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. The strong discipline of national affliction which visited the rebellious house, until the turning again of their captivity, when the appointed term of Babylonish exile was accomplished, appears to form the historical groundwork of Psalms 107:10-16 ; but in its prophetic intention this passage would demand a far wider interpretation. The resuscitation of Israel, both spiritually and politically, would alone adequately fulfil these words.
The sufferings of the "foolish nation" when, filled with Jehovah's indignation they find a snare in that which should have fed them, and pine beneath the pressure of a more grievous famine than that of bread, until, in answer to their cry of sorrow, the word of saving health is sent them from above, seem to be indicated in the next division (Ps 107:17-20). The language of Psalms 107:22 is in agreement with this. They who had daily gone about to establish their own righteousness are called on now to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and to declare his works with singing.
Besides the obvious force and beauty of the following verses ( Psalms 107:23-30 ) in their simple meaning and their general application, we have, I believe, a figure of Jacob's restless trouble when, like a vexed and frightened mariner, he wandered up and down the wide sea of nations without ease, a friendless pilgrim of the Lord's displeasure, until the long desired rest was gained at last, under the faithful guidance of him who seeks his people in the dark and cloudy day. Accordingly we find in the hortatory reminder of praise which follows ( Psalms 107:32 ), a mention of the gathered people and their elders, who are now called on to celebrate, in the quiet resting places of Immanuel's land, his faithful goodness and his might, who had turned their long endured tempest of affliction to the calm sunshine of perpetual peace. --Arthur Pridham, in "Notes and Reflections on the Psalms", 1869.
Verse 1. O give thanks unto the LORD. Unto no duty are we more dull and untoward, than to the praise of God, and thanksgiving unto him; neither is there any duty whereunto there is more need that we should be stirred up, as this earnest exhortation doth import. -- David Dickson.
Verse 1. For he is good, etc. The first words of the psalm are abundant in thought concerning Jehovah. "For he is good." Is not this the Old Testament version of "God is love"? 1 John 4:8 . And then, For his mercy endureth for ever. Is not this the gushing stream from the fountain of Love? -- the never failing stream, on whose banks the redeemed of the Lord walk, those whom he has redeemed from the hand of the enemy Hengstenberg, "hand of trouble", rc. Nor is the rich significance of these clauses diminished by our knowing that they were, from time to time, the burden of the altar song. When the ark came to its resting place ( 1 Chronicles 16:34 ), they sang to the Lord -- "For he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever!" In Solomon's temple, the singers and players on instruments were making the resplendent walls of the newly risen temple resound with these very words, when the glory descended ( 2 Chronicles 5:13 ); and these were the words that burst from the lips of the awe struck and delighted worshippers, who saw the fire descend on the altar ( 2 Chronicles 7:3 ). And in Ezra's days ( Ezra 3:11 ), again, as soon as the altar rose, they sang to the Lord -- "Because he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever." Our God is known to be "Love", by the side of the atoning sacrifice. Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 33:11 ) too, shows how restored Israel shall exult in this name. --Andrew A. Bonar.
Verse 1. His mercy endureth for ever. St. Paul assures us, that the covenant of grace, which is the fountain of all mercy, was made before the foundation of the world, and this he repeats in several of his epistles. The Psalmist teaches the same doctrine, and frequently calls upon us to thank God, because his mercy is for ever and ever -- because his mercy is everlasting -- and in the text, because "his mercy endureth for ever;" the word "endureth" is inserted by the translators, for there is no verb in the original neither in strictness of speech could there be any; because there was no time when this mercy was not exercised, neither will there be any time when the exercise of it will fail. It was begun before all worlds, when the covenant of grace was made, and it will continue to the ages of eternity, after this world is destroyed. So that mercy was, and is, and will be, "for ever", and sinful miserable man may always find relief in this eternal mercy, whenever the sense of his misery disposes him to seek for it. And does not this motive loudly call upon us to "give thanks"? Because there is mercy with God -- mercy to pity the miserable -- and even to relieve them -- although they do not deserve it: for mercy is all free grace and unmerited love. Oh! How adorable, then, and gracious is this attribute! How sweet is it and full of consolation to the guilty. --William Romaine (1714-1795), in "A Practical Comment on the Hundred and Seventh Psalm."
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Whole Psalm. This psalm is like the Interpreter's house in Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress." Pilgrim is told that he will there see excellent and profitable things. The same promise is given in the introduction to this psalm, where we have,
Verse 1-2. The duty of praise is universal, the real presentation of it remains with the redeemed. Particular redemption should lead to specific praise, special testimony to truth and special faith in God: "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so."