God's providential care of the children of men in distresses, in banishment, and dispersion. (1-9) In captivity. (10-16) In sickness. (17-22) Danger at sea.(23-32) God's hand is to be seen by his own people. (33-43)
Verses 1-9 In these verses there is reference to the deliverance from Egypt, and perhaps that from Babylon: but the circumstances of travellers in those countries are also noted. It is scarcely possible to conceive the horrors suffered by the hapless traveller, when crossing the trackless sands, exposed to the burning rays of the sum. The words describe their case whom the Lord has redeemed from the bondage of Satan; who pass through the world as a dangerous and dreary wilderness, often ready to faint through troubles, fears, and temptations. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, after God, and communion with him, shall be filled with the goodness of his house, both in grace and glory.
Verses 10-16 This description of prisoners and captives intimates that they are desolate and sorrowful. In the eastern prisons the captives were and are treated with much severity. Afflicting providences must be improved as humbling providences; and we lose the benefit, if our hearts are unhumbled and unbroken under them. This is a shadow of the sinner's deliverance from a far worse confinement. The awakened sinner discovers his guilt and misery. Having struggled in vain for deliverance, he finds there is no help for him but in the mercy and grace of God. His sin is forgiven by a merciful God, and his pardon is accompanied by deliverance from the power of sin and Satan, and by the sanctifying and comforting influences of God the Holy Spirit.
Verses 17-22 If we knew no sin, we should know no sickness. Sinners are fools. They hurt their bodily health by intemperance, and endanger their lives by indulging their appetites. This their way is their folly. The weakness of the body is the effect of sickness. It is by the power and mercy of God that we are recovered from sickness, and it is our duty to be thankful. All Christ's miraculous cures were emblems of his healing diseases of the soul. It is also to be applied to the spiritual cures which the Spirit of grace works. He sends his word, and heals souls; convinces, converts them, makes them holy, and all by the word. Even in common cases of recovery from sickness, God in his providence speaks, and it is done; by his word and Spirit the soul is restored to health and holiness.
Verses 23-32 Let those who go to sea, consider and adore the Lord. Mariners have their business upon the tempestuous ocean, and there witness deliverances of which others cannot form an idea. How seasonable it is at such a time to pray! This may remind us of the terrors and distress of conscience many experience, and of those deep scenes of trouble which many pass through, in their Christian course. Yet, in answer to their cries, the Lord turns their storm into a calm, and causes their trials to end in gladness.
Verses 33-43 What surprising changes are often made in the affairs of men! Let the present desolate state of Judea, and of other countries, explain this. If we look abroad in the world, we see many greatly increase, whose beginning was small. We see many who have thus suddenly risen, as suddenly brought to nothing. Worldly wealth is uncertain; often those who are filled with it, ere they are aware, lose it again. God has many ways of making men poor. The righteous shall rejoice. It shall fully convince all those who deny the Divine Providence. When sinners see how justly God takes away the gifts they have abused, they will not have a word to say. It is of great use to us to be fully assured of God's goodness, and duly affected with it. It is our wisdom to mind our duty, and to refer our comfort to him. A truly wise person will treasure in his heart this delightful psalm. From it, he will fully understand the weakness and wretchedness of man, and the power and loving-kindness of God, not for our merit, but for his mercy's sake.
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.
1, 2. This call for thankful praise is the burden or chorus (compare Psalms 107:8 Psalms 107:15 , &c.).
2. redeemed of the Lord--(compare Isaiah 35:9 Isaiah 35:10 ).
say--that is, that His mercy, &c.
hand of--or, "power of enemy."
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.
5. fainted--was overwhelmed ( Psalms 61:3 , 77:3 ).
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.