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Bible Commentaries

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Psalms 107

Psalms 107

The Psalm begins in Psalms 107:1 with an exhortation to praise God, as the object of which, in Psalms 107:2-3, there is given the deliverance of the church out of great trouble, and its collection out of all lands. These gracious deeds are celebrated, in Psalms 107:4-32, under different images: of those who wander up and down in the wilderness, hungry and thirsty, and now were led to an inhabited city, Psalms 107:4-9; of those bound with fetters in dark prisons, who are now set at liberty, Psalms 107:10-16; of those sick, who are now healed, Psalms 107:17-22; of those who survive a great storm at sea, Psalms 107:23-32. In this portion there exists a great similarity; first always the trouble, next the prayer, after this the deliverance, and finally the exhortation to give thanks. The words “they cry unto the Lord out of their trouble, and he delivers them out of their distresses,” and “these may praise the Lord for his mercy, and for his wonders to the children of men,” perpetually return. In the last strophe the similarity ceases. It celebrates, in three sections, the overthrow of the power of the world, and the exaltation of Israel, who has now been restored to his own home, has rebuilt his city there, cultivated his land, reaped its fruit, and prospers joyfully in all respects. A conclusion in Psalms 107:43 contains an exhortation to render suitable thanks to the Lord for his favour.

The fundamental number of the Psalm, which praises the gathering of Israel from the four ends of the earth (comp. Psalms 107:3), is four. The introduction (the opening, Psalms 107:1, the theme, Psalms 107:2-3) and the conclusion contain four verses. These enclose four strophes, one of twelve, one of seven, and two of ten verses. The strophe of twelve verses is divided into two halves, Psalms 107:4-9, and Psalms 107:17-22, in the midst of which there stands the strophe of seven verses. The signature of the people of the covenant is thus grouped round that of the covenant. The Psalm was, according to Psalms 107:32, sung at a joyful national religious service, and, according to Psalms 107:22, in connection with the bringing forward of thank-offerings, to which it stands related as soul to body. A very suitable occasion is furnished by the first celebration of the feast of tabernacles after the return from exile, when the whole of Israel were assembled at Jerusalem, and sacrifices were offered to the Lord upon the newly-erected altar; comp. Ezra 3:1 ss. The Psalm cannot have been composed earlier, because public worship was then for the first time resumed, and also because, as intimated in Psalms 107:37, the first harvest was then over. And it cannot have been composed later, because, in the whole Psalm, there is no mention whatever made of the temple, which, had it existed, could not but have been mentioned in Psalms 107:33-42, as it must have occupied a very prominent place among the gracious deeds of God; everywhere the language refers only to a new building of the city, Psalms 107:36, and to a new cultivation of the land, Psalms 107:37. In addition to this, we find everywhere the first joy and elevation of spirit; we see the congregation enjoying its recovery festival. Another state of mind very soon prevailed, the beginning of which was first seen at the second great festival, at the laying of the foundation of the house of the Lord in the second year, comp. Ezra 3:12; although, at that time, upon the whole, the joyful feeling still prevailed. The machinations of the enemies then came into view. Instead of this, the comparison is between the present and the immediate mournful, and the more remote prosperous past, and the splendid predictions of the prophets. In the prophecies of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, we find ourselves upon an altogether different territory; comp. the introduction to these prophets in the Christol.

Our Psalm is closely related to Psalms 106. The similarity of the beginning points to this. Thanks are given here, Psalms 107:3, for what forms there the object of desire, Psalms 106:47. The praise of the Lord, which, in Psalms 106:47, is promised; should salvation be imparted, is here rendered to him now that salvation is enjoyed.

The points of contact, however, are only of the same kind as are those of Psalms 104 and Psalms 103, and are to be explained by supposing that another Psalmist, at a later period, appended our Psalm to the group Psalms 101-106, and thus completed the number seven, the first and last word of which is the mercy of the Lord. Even the other points of connection are not of such a kind as necessarily to demand the identity of the author. The author, however, may be the same (what renders it very possible, yea, probable, is that Psalms 104-106 were composed towards the end of the captivity, and our Psalm in the first year after the return): we must, at the same time, maintain, that the trilogy, Psalms 104-106, joined to the Davidic one so as to form one whole, existed as a previously completed group, before the number seven was completed by the addition of our Psalm, and that the Psalms 107 was added as a later supplement. We are led to the same conclusion by the last verse of Psalms 106, which manifestly belongs, not merely to this Psalm, but to the whole group, by the indirect testimony of the compilers, who would assuredly not have separated what is inseparably connected together, by elevating the conclusion of Psalms 106 to the rank of the conclusion of the fourth book; and, finally, by the want of the Hallelujah in Psalms 107; whereas, had the connection of Psalms 104-107 been original and absolute, the Psalms 107 th Psalm would, like a connecting band, have closed the whole.

The state of matters is this: to the Davidic trilogy, some Psalmist added, towards the close of the captivity, one of his own composition. This group was rounded off, internally and externally, after the return from the captivity, by the addition of a seventh Psalm.

A great many expositors have failed completely to observe the special reference of the Psalm to the return from the Babylonish captivity; and, led astray by the different figures under which the deliverance of God here appears, have referred everything to the constant course of divine providence, and to the deliverances which God works out on behalf of different classes of sufferers. [Note: Amyraldus, with whom J. H. Michaelis agrees, says: Of the more illustrious interpreters of the Psalms, there is not one who does not acknowledge, that, while many others, and especially the two preceding. Psalms, treat of the special providence of God, as exercised on behalf of the Israelites, this one has for its object to celebrate that general care by which God continually governs all men and all nations.” It would be difficult to explain how it is said of the heathen that they call upon Jehovah. At the same time there have been individuals who took the correct view. The Syrian translator gives as the title: “God collects the Jews out of captivity, and brings them back out of Babylon; the only begotten Son of God also, Jesus Christ, collects the nations from the four corners of the world, by calling upon man to be baptized.”] —a mistake against which a careful consideration of Psalms 107:2-3, might have been sufficient to have guarded, as these verses regulate the whole, whose theme they contain. At the same time, there lies a measure of truth at the bottom of this error, in so far as the Psalmist was conscious that he was not a poet for a mere occasion, but that he sang for the church of God of all times. The special references, therefore, are designedly as little marked as possible, so that the Psalm is, in reality, very suitable as a song of thanksgiving for the church, and also for particular members after every deliverance. The general references, however, to mankind at large, must be given up entirely; we find ourselves everywhere in the domain of Jehovah, not of Elohim; the expression, they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, which does not suit the heathen, continually recurs; and Psalms 107:11 is suitable only for the people of the law and of revelation.

The strong dependance upon Isaiah and Job is characteristic of the Psalm.

Verses 1-3

Ver. 1. Praise the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endureth, for ever.

Ver. 2. The redeemed of the Lord may say so, whom he has redeemed from the hand of trouble. Ver. 3. And whom he has assembled out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the sea.— It must have made a deep impression when the Psalmist put into the mouth of the redeemed the same words, Psalms 107:1, with which, on a former occasion, when in deep misery, they had praised their God on the ground of his former glorious deeds, and in the exercise of hope, Psalms 106:1. It is obvious that the verse before us is borrowed from this passage, because the words are not, as is the obvious view at first sight, addressed by the Psalmist to the church, but are put into the lips of the church.

In defining those who are called upon to praise the Lord, the Psalmist announces, in Psalms 107:2-3, the theme of the Psalm. The “redeemed of the Lord,” Psalms 107:2, is from Isaiah 62:12, Isaiah 63:4. The צר , according to Psalms 107:6, Psalms 107:13, Psalms 106:44, is not opponents, but trouble, which is here personified and represented as a dangerous enemy, which has Israel in its hands. Throughout the whole Psalm, the discourse is not of enemies, but of trouble.

That Psalms 107:3 refers to the return from the captivity is evident from Psalms 106:47, and from the reference to the fundamental passages in Isaiah 56:8, but especially Isaiah 43:5-6, “From the rising of the sun will I bring thy seed, and from the going down of the sun I will assemble thee, I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Keep not back,” and Isaiah 49:12, “Behold, these come from afar, and behold these from the north and from the sea and from the land of Sinim.” This last passage bears such a close resemblance to the passage before us, particularly in the juxtaposition of the north and the sea, as to exclude the possibility of its being accidental. Still the reference to the return from captivity is so framed as to admit of the words being applied to those whom the Lord has brought home “from the different places to which necessary duty or severe misfortune had driven them.” (Amyr.) The reference to the prophetical fundamental passages shows that we are not carefully to enquire whether the exiles returned from all these different places. From supposing that the four quarters of heaven must be here fully named, every possible attempt has been made to make out that ים , which can denote only such a sea as represents a quarter of the heavens, viz., the west, or the Mediterranean sea, must mean the south. The correct view, however, is, that the Psalmist here, like the prophet in ch. Isaiah 49:12, is content with naming the places according to the number of the quarters of heaven, without exactly naming each quarter. The omission of the south, and the substitution instead of it of the sea, on which the scattered exiles returned from Egypt and other lands (comp. Deuteronomy 28:68), might be occasioned by the circumstance that there was nothing in that quarter but a wilderness. The omission of the north in Psalms 75:7, in the enumeration of the quarters of the heavens, proceeded from an exactly similar cause.

Verses 4-9

Ver. 4. They wandered in the wilderness, the pathless desert, they found not a city of habitation. Ver. 5. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Ver. 6. And they cry to the Lord in their trouble, he delivers them out of their oppressions. Ver. 7. And led them in the right way, that they might go to the city of habitation. Ver. 8. These should praise to the Lord his mercy, and his wonders to the children of men. Ver. 9. For he satisfied the languishing soul, and he filled the hungry soul with good.

The representation of Israel languishing in exile under the image of those who wander up and down in the wilderness, in this strophe, depends upon the typical import of the march through the wilderness, just as, on the same basis, Isaiah, in the second part of his prophecy, had not unfrequently described the miserable condition of Israel by the figure of the wilderness; for example, Isaiah 40:3, Isaiah 43:19-20. Comp. on other typical applications of the march through the wilderness, the Christol. on Hosea 2:16. The desert of the way (comp. ישימון of the Arabic wilderness, Deuteronomy 32:10, Psalms 68:7, Psalms 78:40) is one which is this in reference to the way, in its waylessness; comp. Psalms 107:40, “And allowed them to wander in the wilderness without a way.” Against the connection of the דרך with what follows, we have, besides this parallel passage, the accents and the want of the article in ישימון . The מושב signifies only seat, place of abode. It is obvious, from Psalms 107:36, that allusion is made to Jerusalem, which, in a certain sense, because it was the city of God, was the dwelling-place of the whole people; comp. at Psalms 101:8.

The hunger, and thirst, and the fatigue thereby induced (comp. the עטף , Lamentations 2:19, Psalms 77:3) are named in Psalms 107:5 merely as descriptive of the miserable condition of the Israelites in the real wilderness. That the Israelites were not so badly off in a temporal point of view, during the captivity, is manifest from the circumstance, that so many who knew nothing of higher wants, the hunger and the thirst after the beautiful worship of God, and, after the land where the footsteps of God were everywhere visible, preferred remaining where they were. Psalms 137 shows us what corresponded in the spiritual wilderness to the hunger and the thirst.

The subject in Psalms 107:8 is, “those thus led.” The ל must manifestly be construed in the same way in both clauses; it is not the wonders, therefore, but the praise, that belongs to the children of men (Luther: which he does to the children of men). The praise belongs to the Lord in so far as it is given to him, and to the children of men in so far as it is uttered by them, for the glorifying of God among them.

The languishing soul, in Psalms 107:9, is not one which languishes in itself, but, as is obvious from the opposition of the hungry soul in the second clause, the soul of the thirsty; comp. Isaiah 29:8. To satisfy, by delivering from thirst, occurs also in Psalms 104:13, Psalms 104:16. With good, Psalms 103:5.

Verses 10-16

Ver. 10. Who must have sat in darkness and the shadow of death, bound in misery and iron. Ver. 11. For they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the Most High. Ver. 12. Wherefore he brought down their heart in suffering, they fell down and there was no helper. Ver. 13. And they cried to the Lord in their trouble, he delivered them out of their distresses. Ver. 14. And led them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and break their bands. Ver. 15. These should praise to the Lord his mercy, and his wonders to the children of men. Ver. 10. For he break the doors of brass, and destroyed the bars of iron.

The description of the subject in Psalms 107:10 is in reality pre-supposed in Psalms 107:11-14, and after that there is appended, “May these praise.”

The first clause of Psalms 107:10 is from Isaiah 9:1. The dark prison, as an image of the misery, occurs also in ch. Isaiah 42:7, Isaiah 49:9. On “the shadow of death,” at Psalms 23:4, That the עני denotes the misery of the past, and that, therefore, the discourse is of iron = iron fetters, Psalms 105:18, only in a figurative sense, is evident from Psalms 107:41, and from the fundamental passage, Job 36:8, “And if they be bound in fetters and be holden in cords of affliction,” where, according to the connection, the discourse is only of suffering generally, and not of literal imprisonment and fetters.

On המרו , in Psalms 107:1, comp. Psalms 106:7, Psalms 106:33, Psalms 106:43. There is a paronomasia between המרו and אמרי and between עצת and נאצו . The words of the Lord are those which he had spoken to them in his law, and by his holy servants the prophets. The counsel of the Lord is either the counsel which he has taken to destroy secure and rebellious sinners, and to impart salvation only to the penitent—in this case, Isaiah 5:19 is to be compared, where the rebellious sinners, despising the counsel of the Lord, say, “Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it; let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come that we may know it,” and also Isaiah 19:17, Luke 7:30, and Psalms 106:13—or the counsel which the Lord gave them; in this case, we must comp. Proverbs 1:25, and 2 Kings 17:13. The latter explanation is favoured by the parallel to the words of God.

He brought down their heart, in Psalms 107:12,—which had proudly risen up in rebellion and contempt.

On Psalms 107:15 comp. Psalms 116:16, where it is said, “Thou hast loosed my bands,” in reference to deliverance from captivity.

Psalms 107:16 depends upon Isaiah 45:2, where it is said of Cyrus: “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight, I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.”

Verses 17-22

Ver. 17. Fools, because of their walk in iniquity, and because of their iniquities, were afflicted. Ver. 18. Their soul loathed all food, and they came to the gates of death. Ver. 19. And they cried to the Lord in their trouble; he delivered them from their oppressions. Ver. 20. He sent his word and healed them, and delivered them from their pits. Ver. 21. These should praise to the Lord his mercy, and his wonders to the children of men. Ver. 22. And offer sacrifices of praise and recount his works in triumph.

The אוילים of the first clause corresponds to the יתענו of the second: fools, because of their evil way, i.e., those who, by their wicked conduct, became fools, were openly represented as such by the punishments which were manifestly the consequences of this conduct.

That the cause of the loathing of food, in Psalms 107:18, was not grief, as several unsuitably referring to Psalms 102:4 have supposed, but severe sickness, under the figure of which the suffering is here spoken of, (comp. at Psalms 103:3) is manifest from Psalms 107:20, “He healed them,” and from the fundamental passage, Job 33:20, where it is said of the sick man, “His life abhorreth food and his sold dainty meat.” On the second clause comp. Job 33:22, Psalms 88:3; on the gates of death, at Psalms 9:13.

The word of the Lord, by which he procured the salvation of Israel, with its sure consequences (comp. Psalms 33:9, Matthew 8:8) appears here under the figure of the physician whom he sends to heal the sick, comp. at Psalms 30:3. That the pits are equivalent to the graves in which they were almost already lying, is evident from Psalms 107:18, and from the fundamental passage, Job 33:28, “he has delivered my soul from the grave and my life sees the light,” instead of שחת there, and in Psalms 107:22, Psalms 107:24, Psalms 107:30, we have here the rare form שחיתה , which only occurs again in Lamentations 4:20; comp. Psalms 103:4, “who delivers thy life from the pit.”

The thank-offerings, Psalms 107:22, occur here, according to the second clause, chiefly in connection with what constitutes their essence, thanks; comp. at Psalms 50:14, Psalms 50:23.

Verses 23-32

Ver. 23. Those who cross the sea in ships, do duty in many waters. Ver. 24. They see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. Ver. 25. And he spoke and stilled a storm of wind which lifted its billows. Ver. 26. They go up to heaven, down to the floods, their soul is melted in trouble. Ver. 27. They dance and stagger like a drunken man and are at their wits end. Ver. 28. And they cry to the Lord in their trouble, he delivered them out of their distresses. Ver. 29. He changed the storm into a calm, and its waves were silent. Ver. 30. And they were glad that they had rest, and he brought them to the object of their wish. Ver. 31. These should praise to the Lord his mercy, and his wonders to the children of men. Ver. 32. And exalt him in the assembly of the people, and praise him in the seat of the elders.

The sea is the standing emblem of the world; comp. at Psalms 46, and at Psalms 93:3, Psalms 104:6, ss. The church of God, therefore, which has its existence in the world, appears, Psalms 107:23, under the emblem of those who cross the sea, and carry on their business there, such as mariners, merchants, or fishermen. What is here a figure is, in Mark 4:36, ss., Matthew 8:23, ss., Luke 8:22, ss., embodied in a symbolical action. [Note: Ven.: “There are three seas in which the church, like a ship, was tossed about by its billows, at great risk, but with a most prosperous issue; viz., the Jewish, the Pagan, said the Antichristian world.”] Those interpreters who could not understand the figurative representation, have, in some cases, been obliged to have recourse to strange expedients. This is the case with those who suppose that the Psalmist has before his mind, not as is the case throughout the whole preceding part of the Psalm, the whole church, but a few of its members, who, during the captivity, were obliged to have recourse, as a temporary occupation, to a seafaring life!

The works and wonders of the Lord upon the deep, Psalms 107:24, are such as are described in the following verses, the glorious deliverances which he imparts to his own people when they are sent by him on the sea of the world, and are overtaken by a fierce storm of oppression.

On “he said,” Psalms 107:25, comp. Psalms 105:31. The suffix in “ his billows,” does not refer to the sea, ים ,—for the language in the immediately preceding clauses had not been used of it, but of the deep—but to the Lord; comp. “all thy waves and thy billows go over me,” in Psalms 42:7.

On Psalms 107:26, comp. Psalms 104:8. To the floods—the usual place which these occupy. In trouble- comp. Genesis 44:29. Melts—comp. Psalms 22:14, Psalms 42:4.

On Psalms 107:28, Berleb.:—”To the Lord, I mean, men learn then to cry, according to the common saying: whoever cannot pray let him become a sailor.”

The יקם , in Psalms 107:29, the abbreviated future, instead of the common form (comp. Psalms 107:3, Psalms 18:10), not he quieted, he calmed—this sense is not attested— but he put it, like the העמיך in Psalms 107:25, into a calm, he changed it into a calm, or even he restored it; comp. Amos 9:12. The דממה is not a gentle breeze, but always silence (γαλή?νη , Matthew 8:26), even in 1 Kings 19:12. Seasons of rest and revival had already been spoken of in that passage under the figure of a calm after a storm. The suffix in “ their waves,” does not refer to the sea, of which, in the plural, no mention had been made, but to the sailors, to whom the suffixes in the preceding and following words refer:—their waves, the trouble which threatened to ruin them. “ Their waves” here corresponds to “ his waves,” in Psalms 107:25. The waves belong the Lord, in so far as he raises them (“he raises the sea, its waves roar,” Isaiah 51:15), and to the church in so far as she is overflowed by them. It is very consolatory that all the waves of the church are also the waves of her Lord; and the corresponding suffixes are fraught with a meaning of deep importance. The waves act as if they intended, at their own hand, to engulph the church; but it is in reality far otherwise. The Lord on high sends them; and hence the unqualified truth of the maxim, “he can remove calamity, he has it in his hands.”

The שתק in Psalms 107:30 occurs only in Jonah 1:11, שתק הים , he stills or silences the sea. The Psalmist appears generally to have had before his eyes the description of the storm which occurs there. The best derivation of מחוז is that of Gousset from &#חוז חזה to see, the object looked at, the mark.

It is obvious from Psalms 107:22, that in Psalms 107:32 we are to think of a public assembly for the worship of God in the then existing sanctuary of the nation; comp. at Psalms 22:22, 2 Chronicles 20:3-5. On the second clause, comp. at Psalms 1:1. The elders are the overseers of the people (comp. Psalms 105:22), the heads of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, Ezra 1:5, the guides of the congregation in conduct, and also in praise.

Verses 33-42

Ver. 33. He changes rivers into a wilderness, and fountains of water into dry ground. Ver. 34. A fruitful land into salt, on account of the wickedness of its inhabitants. Ver. 35. He changes the wilderness into a water-pond, and dry land into streams of water.

Ver. 36. And maketh the hungry to dwell there, and they build a city of habitation. Ver. 37. And sow fields and plant vineyards, and produce fruit of increase. Ver. 38. And he blesses them, and they multiply greatly, and he does not suffer their cattle to decrease,

Ver. 39. They, whom he diminishes and brings down by the oppression of suffering and sorrow.

Ver. 40. He poureth contempt upon princes, and causes them to wander in a pathless desert. Ver. 41. And lifteth the needy out of suffering, and maketh families like a flock. Ver. 42. The righteous behold it, and are glad, and all wickedness stops its mouth.

The best view to take of this strophe, is to consider it as the response to the exhortation, “these may praise to the Lord his mercy,” which runs throughout the preceding part of the Psalm, as the song with which the Lord is honoured in the assembly of the people, and praised on the seat of the elders, so that we should read it as if it were divided by marks of quotation from the conclusion of the preceding verse.—“The verbs of this paragraph, partly futures, partly futures with the Vau Con., and partly participles, are most naturally taken in a present sense.” Still we should everywhere consider as added: as we see it before our eyes. What the Lord does generally is represented on the ground of what he is now doing. This is clear from the relation of the present strophe to the one which precedes it, and also from the very manifest references to present times, especially in the ( Psalms 107:36) 36th (comp. Psalms 107:4 and Psalms 107:7) and the following verses.

First, in Psalms 107:33-35, the Lord, as is obvious from the figure, causes the waters of prosperity and happiness belonging to the world to sink into the ground (the ישם in Psalms 107:35, in its reference to the one in Psalms 107:33), and those of the church to flow copiously; or, Babylon is drained, and the land of the Lord is watered.

Psalms 107:33-34 are usually referred to Israel and his misery. But this is not suitable; and the fundamental passages render it obvious that the whole passage refers to Babylon, the representative of the world at enmity with the kingdom of God, which had recently been destroyed. On comparing Isaiah 44:26-27, we find the same two positions occurring in an inverted order: “Who saith to Jerusalem, she shall be inhabitated, and to the cities of Judah, they shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof; that saith to the deep, be dry and I will dry up thy rivers.” In Isaiah 50:2, we read, “Behold at my rebuke, I dry up the sea, I change the rivers into a wilderness,” in Isaiah 21:1, Babylon is called “the wilderness of the sea” (see the Christol. p. 98), in Jeremiah 50:38, “a drought is upon her waters, they shall be dried up, for it is the land of graven images,” Jeremiah 51:36, “And I dry up her sea, and make her springs dry.” As the sea is the image of masses of people, the water of streams and of fountains represents happiness, prosperity, and fortune; comp. the Treatise on Balaam, at Numbers 24:6-7. The streams in Psalms 107:33 comprehend the surrounding country. On the second. clause, comp. Deuteronomy 8:15, Isaiah 35:7, to the latter of which passages allusion is made. It is there said of Sion: “the parched ground shall become a pool.” The state of matters in the world is being reversed.

Psalms 107:34 alludes to the great type of all the judgments upon the ungodly world, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha, the change of its fruitful territory into a salt sea and a salt soil on which nothing grows. Comp. Deuteronomy 29:22, and Ezekiel 47, where Sodom and Gomorrha appear as a type of the world throughout the whole of a symbolical picture. Babylon had already undergone the beginning of a great change, the completion of which was discerned by the eye of faith as revealed in the sure word of prophecy; comp., for example, Isaiah 13:19, “And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the haughty ornament of the Chaldeans, shall be destroyed by God like Sodom and Gomorrha.”

Psalms 107:35 is literally from Isaiah 41:18, “I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water;” comp. Isaiah 35:7, “And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water,” Isaiah 43:20, and, in opposition, the world, Isaiah 42:15, “I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools.” Allusion is made to the water which the Lord sent to his people in the wilderness, a type of the fountain of salvation which he opens at all times in the wilderness of misery. It is obvious, from what follows, that the wilderness here denotes the then miserable condition of Canaan.

The second portion of the strophe, which, when added to the preceding one, makes up seven verses, refers wholly to the prosperous change which bad recently taken place in favour of the people of the Lord, or it continues the description which had been begun at the end of the first.

On Psalms 107:36, comp. Psalms 107:4-5, Psalms 107:7.

The עשה in Psalms 107:37 is to make, comp. Psalms 60:12. The increase is the year’s harvest, comp. Leviticus 25:16.

The רבה in Psalms 107:38 is not only to increase, in reference to the number of the people, but also to improve, to prosper, Deuteronomy 30:16, comp. also Psalms 107:41. The המעיט is from Leviticus 26:22.

In whatever way we may construe the future with Vau in Psalms 107:39, it is, at all events, certain that this verse refers to the mournful past, and, by pointing to it, leads to a deeper consciousness of the prosperity of the present, and to more lively gratitude. The best way to translate is: and they were diminished, instead of they, the diminished and the sunk.

The first clause of Psalms 107:40 is from Job 12:21—the quotation is marked by the circumstance that the participle there stands in a string of participles, while here it is the only one that occurs in the whole strophe;—the second from Job 12:24 th of the same chapter. The wandering in the desert without a way denotes, according to the fundamental passage, helpless embarrassment. Some expositors have erroneously applied to Israel what was intended for Babylon; and as the penalty of this mistake, they cannot understand why they should begin with the participle. Our verse corresponds to Psalms 107:33-34; and the opposite, the salvation of Sion, follows in Psalms 107:41. The concluding verse, the ( Psalms 107:42) 42d, exhibits the impression which this great turn of things, this change of condition, makes on both parties.

The expression, “like a flock,” or “like sheep,” Psalms 107:41, denotes great multitudes; comp. Job 21:11, “They send forth their children like sheep.” Whoever comes out of great misery is thankful even for such beginnings of salvation, as may be, for the first time, seen in the above description.— Israel is meant by the righteous in Psalms 107:42; comp. at Psalms 33:1. The second clause is from Job 5:16. The wickedness here is heathen wickedness, wicked Babylon, with its associates, the sons of Edom, Psalms 137:7. Oppressed herself by misery, she now shuts that mouth with which she had so long insulted God and his chosen ones.

Verse 43

In ver. 43 we have the conclusion of the whole.

He who is wise understands this; and may men observe the mercies of the Lord! An expressive nota bene! Heartfelt thanks for the past favours of the Lord form the indispensable condition of the continuance of these favours. He who does not give thanks is a fool, for he brings it about that clouds of wrath again collect over his head. [Note: Calvin: “By a question he indirectly reprobates a false opinion which prevails throughout the world to a great extent, while the most audacious despiser of God fancies himself very wise, as if he sail that all the fools will be detected who do not exercise discernment in this matter.”]

Upon the cycle of ten and the cycle of seven Psalms there follows now one of twelve, introduced as in the preceding case by a Davidic trilogy, to which there are then added nine new Psalms.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 107". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.