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With Psalm 107 begins the fifth and last book of Psalms. This last book – Psalms 107-150 – describes the ways of God with His people, that is the faithful remnant, along which He brings them back from exile into His land (Psa 107:2-3). This is God’s answer to the prayer at the end of the fourth book (Psa 106:47). The so-called songs of ascent (Psalms 120-134) describe this. In them we hear the feelings of both the two and the ten tribes.
This fifth book can be compared to the book of Deuteronomy, the fifth book of Moses. In that book, the people are at the end of the wilderness journey and about to enter the promised land. Moses gives a review on Israel’s journey through the wilderness and a preview to the promised land.
We also see this in this fifth book of Psalms. Psalm 107, the first psalm of this book, describes the various events and circumstances the people went through before they entered the land. It is a description of trials and tribulations, in which they came to know the LORD, His word and His ways better and praise Him for it.
We find four examples of this in this psalm which at the same time form a division of the psalm:
1. The wilderness. In it they wandered (Psa 107:4-9).
2. The captivity. They have been captives of the nations (Psa 107:10-16).
3. Their transgressions. As a result, they were afflicted, near death (Psa 107:17-22).
4. The great tribulation and wrath through which they have passed, represented in the storm (Psa 107:23-32).
1. The answer to their wandering in the wilderness (Psa 107:4-9) is the city with foundations.
2. The answer to their captivity (Psa 107:10-16) is the return.
3. The answer to their afflictions (Psa 107:17-22) is the healing.
4. The answer to the storm (Psa 107:23-32) is the desired haven of the realm of peace.
God has delivered the people again and again when they cried out to Him. Likewise, in the future, when they are in the great tribulation, He will listen to them when they cry out to Him. Each time, the remnant is exhorted to praise and give thanks to the LORD.
This is also the teaching found in the conclusion of this psalm (Psa 107:33-42). Those who take this teaching to heart prove themselves to be wise (Psa 107:43). The wise in the future – the maskilim – will learn the lesson by taking to heart the covenant faithfulness – chesed, favors – of the LORD and trusting in Him.
Song of Praise for Redemption
The psalm begins with the call to give thanks to the LORD, for He is good (Psa 107:1). His goodness is evident in “His lovingkindness”, that is, He is eternally faithful to His new covenant as the foundation of all blessings (Psa 106:1; Psa 108:4). Every believer can say it with David: “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life” (Psa 23:6a). His goodness abides forever and never fails because the new covenant is an eternal covenant because of the power of the blood of Christ as the foundation of all blessings (Heb 13:20).
“His lovingkindness is everlasting” is a refrain. It is and has been sung at every restoration of Israel that takes place through the lovingkindness of the LORD:
a. At Israel’s deliverance from Egypt (Psa 136:1-26).
b. At the return of the ark (1Chr 16:34).
c. At the return from Babylon (Ezra 3:11).
d. At the future restoration of Israel (Jer 33:11).
His lovingkindness is evident in the deliverance of His people “from the hand of the adversaries” (Psa 107:2). They were in the hand of the adversaries, that is, in their power. From this they have been redeemed by Him Who is stronger than the strongest enemy, so that they no longer have any danger to fear.
Prophetically, this applies to the faithful remnant that has been in the scattering. They prayed at the end of Psalm 106 to save them from the power of the nations (Psa 106:47). Here in Psalm 107 we hear a song of thanksgiving about the answer to this prayer (Psa 107:2-3). They did not deserve that answer. After all, Psalm 106 speaks of the scattering as God’s judgment on their rebellion against the LORD (Psa 106:27). Their rebellion contrasts sharply with Psalm 105, where we read of their deliverance by the LORD from Egypt and that He gave them the lands of the nations (Psa 105:43-44). The quoted verses from these three psalms indicate that despite the fact that they belong to different books of Psalms (the fourth and fifth book) they form in a sense a triptych.
The issue in Psa 107:2 is the redemption of the faithful remnant of the two tribes. The word for “redeemed” comes from the Hebrew word for “ransom” (Lev 25:48-49). This means that we are talking about people who have been ransomed from slavery by a powerful family member. It is not so much about deliverance through battle as it is about deliverance through buying back, where the one who ransoms has the right to buy back, while the other is obliged to sell, without any other option. The redeemed are the ransomed of the LORD (Isa 35:9-10).
Those who are redeemed by the LORD are exhorted to also say it aloud. It is not possible for a believer to remain silent (Psa 116:10). It must be expressed in words of thanksgiving, in songs of praise or sacrifices of praise. It is not only about feelings of gratitude, but also about words of gratitude. The redemption is a special redemption and therefore thanks should also be a special thanks. He redeemed us from our sins by buying us, not with silver or gold, but with His precious blood (1Pet 1:18-19).
In Psa 107:3 it is about the remnant of the ten tribes returning to the land from the nations (Deu 30:1-4). God will gather all who are scattered in all directions from the lands to which they have been scattered. He will bring them back “from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south” to His land (Isa 11:11-12; Isa 43:5-6; Mt 24:31).
This verse has not been fulfilled anywhere in the past. The return to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon during the time of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-3) is only from one direction, from Babylon. Since not a title or an iota of God’s Word will fall to earth, this verse will still be fulfilled – and soon, we may assume. Then all of the twelve tribes still in the scattering will return to Israel from all directions.
We have seen this happen time and again since the late nineteenth century in the aliyah, the return of Jews from all parts of the world to Israel. Prophetically, it is about the time when the beast, the antichrist and the king of the North are eliminated. The ten tribes have returned from the scattering into the land and joined the two tribes there. The whole people are then back in the land, all twelve tribes, that is, a remnant from them.
For us Christians, the Lord Jesus died in order to gather us together into one, we who are scattered children of God (Jn 11:52; cf. 1Cor 12:13).
Led by a Straight Way
This section refers to wandering in a wilderness (Psa 107:4). It refers to people who wander, who are lost, who have no safe city in which to live. The Hebrew word for “wander” here is not the same as “wander” in Numbers 32 (Num 32:13). In Numbers 32 they had not lost their way in the wilderness journey, for they were led by the pillar of cloud in their wandering with a purpose.
Those who comprise the remnant from the two tribes and the ten tribes have wandered in the wilderness of this world, “in a desert region”. It is reminiscent of the curse on Cain. As a result of his sin, the murder of his brother Abel, Cain became a wanderer on earth (Gen 4:12). So Israel murdered Christ and Israel also had to go wandering in the wilderness of the world. The world became for them ‘a burial place for strangers’, a piece of land purchased with the thirty pieces of silver at which they valued their Lord (Zec 11:12-13; Mt 27:9-10).
Nowhere did they find “a way to an inhabited city”. They were in the wilderness looking for a city to find rest and safety. They longed for it, but in a wilderness there is no rest anywhere. An inhabited city they would find in the promised land. That is Jerusalem, the city where the LORD dwells (Eze 48:35). Where He dwells, there is rest and safety.
Prophetically, the wilderness speaks of “the wilderness of the peoples” (Eze 20:35), to which the LORD scattered the Israelites because of their unfaithfulness (Psa 106:25-27; Deu 28:64). The return from there and their entry into the promised land is the final fulfillment. The return from exile in Babylon to the land of Israel is not the final fulfillment, but it is a pre-fulfillment. The LORD speaks of this in view of what He will do in the future: “Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert” (Isa 43:19).
In the wilderness they were “hungry and thirsty” (Psa 107:5). About this they grumbled, for “their soul fainted within them”. The way was full of misery and sorrow. They were weary and weakened. This was the result of their unbelief, restlessness and discontent. They saw only the miserable circumstances and not the LORD Who so faithfully cared for them every day.
Then they do the only right thing a man can do when he is in trouble and to which God has also brought him in that trouble: “They cried out to the LORD in their trouble” (Psa 107:6; cf. Hos 5:15; Hos 6:1). God’s answer does not delay: “He delivered them out of their distresses.” This verse is repeated like a refrain throughout this psalm (Psa 107:13; 19; 28). It is the main theme of the psalm: when the people of God are in trouble and they cry out to the LORD, He rescues and delivers.
At God’s covenant, His promise to Abraham, the LORD showed a smoking oven and a flaming torch as a sign that tribulation and distress were the means He would use to bring His people back to Him (Gen 15:17). The distress is the result of God’s work of plowing the hearts of the people (distress makes them pray) to prepare fertile ground in which to sow the Word. In that Word they can believe and be saved and redeemed by it (Isa 28:23-25). Plowing is a prerequisite to sowing.
After delivering them out of their distresses – as the answer to the need in Psa 107:4 – God also took upon Himself the leadership of the people (Psa 107:7). “He led them also by a straight way”, a way straight to His goal. That goal was the promised land. Under His leadership they went “to an inhabited city” (cf. Psa 107:36). In the land were cities for all the people. To dwell in one of these cities meant the end of their wanderings through the wilderness.
The blessings of food and drink, guidance in the wilderness and a city to live in are a great contrast to wandering in the wilderness and grumbling about their lack. This is not the city of man, Babel, which is a city with a tower, but the city which has foundations, “whose architect and builder is God”, the city God showed Abraham (Heb 11:10).
The blessing received, against a backdrop of grumbling, must result in “giving thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men” (Psa 107:8). The giving thanks of this verse is encapsulated in two answers to prayer: Psa 107:7 in response to Psa 107:4, and Psa 107:9 in response to Psa 107:5. The wonders, i.e. wonderful acts, for which they give thanks to the LORD here have to do with the return to the promised land, while the wonders in Psalm 105 and Psalm 106 refer to the Red Sea, what He did there.
He did not give them what they deserved, but out of the fullness of His lovingkindness. He is acting according to the covenant mentioned in Leviticus 26 (Lev 26:40-42): if the remnant would repent, then and only then could the LORD show His lovingkindness to them.
He has “satisfied the thirsty soul” (Psa 107:9). He has done so by bringing them to an inhabited city. Thereby their thirst for God was satisfied (cf. Psa 42:1-2). The same is true of “the hungry soul”. He fills the hungry soul “with what is good” (Lk 1:53; Mt 5:6). He fills the soul with peace and joy. Hunger and thirst refer to spiritual hunger and thirst (cf. Isa 55:1-2). It is hunger for the Word of God (Deu 8:3; Mt 4:4). Satisfaction of this is the LORD’s response to the need of Psa 107:5.
Brought Out of Darkness
This section refers to the captivity among the nations and their deliverance from it. They “dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Psa 107:10; cf. Psa 23:4; Lk 1:79; Isa 9:2). To “dwell” in such a situation indicates a hopeless situation. That they, added to that, were “prisoners in misery and chains” made their situation utterly hopeless (cf. Psa 105:18). The Lord says in His end time address in Matthew 25 that this will be the portion “of these brothers of Mine, [even] the least [of them]”. By them He means the faithful remnant in the time of the great tribulation (Mt 25:39b-40).
There was darkness in their souls, “the shadow of death” surrounded them, they felt miserable, and they could not move because of the iron chains. The occasion of the captivity was their rebellion “against the words of God” (Psa 107:11; cf. Lev 26:33-39; Neh 9:33-37). The people as a whole rebelled against what God has said, His law. Daniel acknowledges this in his confession (Dan 9:5-8). The words of God, His law, contain “the counsel of the Most High”. These are perfect counsels with the highest wisdom to live to His honor and their own good.
God’s words, His counsel, serve for good to the people (Deu 10:3). God never gives a command that is not a counsel and is not wise to obey. But His people have rejected His counsel. Yet it is still the counsel “of the Most High”. It is not only foolish to reject His counsel because of its content, but also impudent and presumptuous because of the loftiness of the Counselor. Who has ever “defied Him without harm” (Job 9:4b)?
If a man does not humble himself, God must humble him (Jam 4:10; 1Pet 5:6). He humbled the proud, haughty heart of His people in Babylon (Psa 107:12). He did that “with labor”, through misery, tribulation, disappointment, sorrow (cf. Deu 26:7). That broke their strength, causing them to “stumble” and fall down.
There they lay, utterly humbled. Because they had rejected the counsel of the Most High, there was “none to help” them get back up. No man had mercy and God had to hand them over because of their rejection of Him. It shows again the hopelessness of their situation.
Then we hear again that “they cried out to the LORD in their trouble” (Psa 107:13; Psa 107:6). That is what God has been waiting for. He is ready to answer a cry out of trouble. Then He proceeds to act. He “saved them out of their distresses”. The words “trouble” and “distresses” indicate that they were in great oppression inwardly and outwardly, so they had no room to express their distress or to move. But the way up was open and they took advantage of that way. Wicked King Manasseh is an example of how the LORD acts when Israel would humble themselves (2Chr 33:12-13; cf. Lev 26:40-42; Deu 30:1-3).
God answered and saved. He “brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke their bands apart” (Psa 107:14). Because they had cried out to God, they were brought out by Him from the situation they had fallen into by rebellion against the words of God (Psa 107:10-11). The bands of “misery and chains”, the symbols of their bondage, in which they had been trapped, He broke by sending His Servant, the Messiah (Isa 42:6; Isa 49:9; Isa 61:1).
For this unanticipated turn for the better, they are again called to give thanks to the LORD (Psa 107:15). As with the first stanza (Psa 107:4-9), this call is encapsulated between two answers to prayer: Psa 107:14 is the answer to the prayer of Psa 107:10a, and Psa 107:16 is the answer to the prayer of Psa 107:10b (cf. Psa 50:15).
Only through “His lovingkindness” were they saved from their misery. To Him be given all the glory for that. It is also God’s intention that they give thanks to Him “for His wonders [i.e. wonderful acts] to the sons of men”. It is a testimony to those around us when we give thanks to God for the wonder of redemption He has given us through His Son. Do we all actually give thanks to Him? Or must the Lord also ask us, as He did with the cleansing of the ten leprous men, where only one of whom returned to honor Him: “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they?” (Lk 17:16-17).
As a reason to give thanks to the LORD, it is emphasized again what He has done for them (Psa 107:16). He has “shattered gates of bronze” of the prison. Isn’t that an amazing thing? Those gates could only be broken open by the power of God.
Those prison gates were also closed with “bars of iron” (cf. Psa 107:10; Psa 105:18). It was, so to speak, doubly impossible to redeem oneself from it. But even these iron bars were “cut … asunder” by God. God has not merely opened the gates and loosened chains, but radically broken them, put them out of order. The breaking is so thorough that re-use is impossible.
Delivered From Destructions
This section describes the distress of the people just before the second coming of the Lord Jesus. The people of God are a people of fools (Psa 107:17; cf. Deu 32:6a). They don’t take God into account (Psa 53:1-6). The way of such people cannot but be a “rebellious way”. In the lives of such people, “iniquities” pile up (cf. Isa 59:12).
The result cannot be other than that they “were afflicted” with all kinds of plagues and diseases (cf. Isa 38:1). They brought those plagues and diseases on themselves by their lifestyle without God. Certainly disease is not always a consequence of sin (Jn 9:1-3), but it can be, as it is here (cf. Jam 5:15).
The afflictions they brought upon themselves resulted in “their soul abhorring all kinds of food” (Psa 107:18). At the same time, we can also say of such sickness that it is a speaking from God to man (Job 33:14). Their abhorrence of food did not come from Him, but from their sickened lifestyle, which had made them sick. A sick person not only has no strength to take food, he also does not want it, he gags at the thought of it. It is a situation where they have come close to death, “to the gates” of it (Job 33:19-22).
For the third time, there is a situation where there is no prospect of improvement or salvation. For the third time, this situation of distress prompts them to cry out “to the LORD” (Psa 107:19; Psa 107:6; 13). And again He responds by saving “them out of their distresses”. The cry in distress implies the recognition that God has rightly allowed the distress to arise.
God saved them out of their distresses because of the deadly diseases by sending His word and healing them (Psa 107:20; cf. Deu 32:39). What happened to Hezekiah is an illustration of this (Isa 38:1-22). We can see its fulfillment in the coming of the Son of God, the Word of God Who became flesh. The accounts we have of His life on earth in the Gospels testify to this. We read that during His life on earth He healed people and delivered them “from their destructions”. These people were near death, but He took them from the gates of death so that they did not become prey to death (Mt 8:17; Mk 1:34; Acts 10:38).
These wondrous healings and deliverances are again the occasion to give thanks to the LORD (Psa 107:21; Psa 107:1; 8; 15; 31; cf. Isa 38:20). Again, the exhortation to give thanks to the LORD is encapsulated by answering prayer (Psa 107:20) and offering sacrifices of thanksgiving (Psa 107:22) instead of a sinful walk.
They are the proofs of “His lovingkindness”. They are also “His wonders [i.e. wonderful acts] to the sons of men”. God shows time and again how good He is to people. We may thank God that He has not forgotten His guilty and suffering people and wish that all those around us see this.
They can show their gratitude for the experienced lovingkindness and wonders of healing by offering Him “sacrifices of thanksgiving” (Psa 107:22). A sacrifice of thanksgiving is a form of the peace offering. It speaks of fellowship with the LORD and with the members of God’s people as a result of what He, Who has been so good to them, has done.
Next, He also wants them to “tell of His works with joyful singing”. True gratitude expresses itself first of all in giving thanks to God, and it will not stop there. A grateful heart also wants others to hear of it and to believe in that God. Therefore, they will testify with passionate joy to what God has done in their lives.
The Storm Stilled
After the wandering in the wilderness of the nations in the first stanza (Psa 107:4-9), being in captivity in the second stanza (Psa 107:10-16), and suffering the deadly disease in the third stanza (Psa 107:17-22), we now see the people “go down to the sea” (Psa 107:23). The sea is a picture of the nations. In the past, Israel traded with the nations (cf. Gen 49:13). They have been “on great waters”: they have traded with great nations. Solomon was a trading man. He built a fleet. These were not pleasure craft, but merchant ships (1Kgs 9:26-28; 1Kgs 10:22).
It is noteworthy that the expressions “works” and “wonders” (Psa 107:24) are also mentioned in Psa 107:21 and Psa 107:22, where they refer to works of redemption and wonders, i.e. wonderful acts, of healing in the past. By the works and wonders of the LORD here we may think of the storm wind and the deliverance out of the depths (Psa 107:25; 29; cf. Mt 8:23-27).
The sea is also threatening, full of dangers (Psa 107:25). Storms at sea are much more violent than on land. God causes the storm to arise. For this He only needs to speak. It implies that the scattering of His people among the nations because of their rejection of the Messiah is the work of the LORD.
In the life of Jonah, we see “a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea”. Jonah disobeyed a command of God. He fled and did so by ship. Then the LORD sent a storm, threatening to break the ship (Jona 1:1-4). The book of Jonah is read in Israel on the day of atonement because in Jonah they recognize the people of Israel, the people who are in the storm of the sea of nations today.
Through the waves, the ship and its crew “rose up to the heavens” (Psa 107:26). A moment later they “went down to the depths” .The soul of the ship’s crew “melted away in [their] misery”. Faced with the violence of the sea, man is totally powerless. It is over and out with all his talk. He is confronted with a power that completely controls him and against which he has nothing to say.
The raging sea caused that the sailors “reeled and staggered like a drunken man” (Psa 107:27). It deprives man of all his steadiness and orientation. The sea is completely in the hand of God (Job 38:10-11). Its turbulence is caused by Him and serves His purpose (Job 26:12; Job 41:31; Psa 148:8b). That purpose is that they are “at their wits’ end [literally: “all their wisdom was swallowed up]”. All their wisdom about shipping is inadequate in view of the circumstances in which they find themselves. They have run out of solutions; they don’t know what to do. A sailor’s grave is all that awaits them.
The awareness of being in a hopeless situation is the beginning of the way back. Thus, Joseph’s brothers in prison came to repentance and the prodigal son came to his senses as he sat with the swine. Thus, the faithful remnant will be brought to confession and purification through the great tribulation in order to be restored to their relationship with the LORD.
What we find described here – and see illustrated with Jonah in the storm on the sea and with the Lord’s disciples in the storm on the lake – is a picture of the situation in which the faithful remnant of Israel finds itself now that it is scattered among the nations. They are in constant distress. That distress will reach its highest when the great tribulation starts. Then all their wisdom will be gone. They will cry out to the LORD in their trouble and He will bring them out of their distresses (Psa 107:28; Psa 107:6; 13; 19; cf. Exo 3:10).
Those who are at their wits’ end do not have to be at their faith’s end. We see that here as well. The sailors cry out to Him Who sent the storm, because He Who sends the storm is also able to cause “the storm to be still” (Psa 107:29). That is what He does. The wind dies down and “the waves of the sea” are “hushed”. The Lord Jesus stilled a storm and thereby provided one of the many proofs that He is God (Mt 8:26; Mk 4:39; cf. Jona 1:15). A clearer proof can hardly be imagined. He can also quiet the storm in a human life and heart.
Prophetically, we recognize the silence after the storm, when the Lord Jesus has eliminated the antichrist and the king of the North, who have unleashed a storm of persecution. Just as the Lord made the soldiers who wanted to capture Him recoil with a single word and fall to the ground (Jn 18:5-6), so in the future the Lord will silence His enemies, the storm, with the sword from His mouth.
The silence after the storm is a cause of joy (Psa 107:30). There is joy when a situation of distress comes to an end. Here the silence is directly connected to arriving at “their desired haven”, which refers to the quiet and peace in the promised land. That is where God guided them (Deu 30:4-5). Those who are at sea for a long time and experience many storms begin to long for the haven more and more. God is on the way to His heavenly land with His people and with His own. Every believer longs for that land. As the storms increase in life, that longing will increase.
After being saved from great distress and entering the haven, there is the call to give thanks to the LORD (Psa 107:31). Again, as with the first three stanzas, the call to give thanks to the LORD is encapsulated in the answer (Psa 107:30) to their prayer (Psa 107:28) and a call to publicly magnify the LORD in the presence of the people and their leaders (Psa 107:32).
By His lovingkindness they have been kept and given rest. This applies not only to the dangers of the sea, but also to the dangers in which we find ourselves every day. The wonders of the deep in Psa 107:24 have here become the wonders for His own sake. For this He deserves all the glory.
What He has done is worthy of all glory “in the congregation of the people” (Psa 107:32). It is not merely a personal thankfulness, but a thankfulness shared with fellow believers (cf. Psa 111:1). Meetings of believers also serve to share with others experiences gained with the Lord, so that thanksgiving to God also increases (2Cor 1:10-11; Acts 15:3).
A special call is made to “the elders” to give thanks to Him. They, more than others, have had experiences of the LORD’s deliverances from distress. That the psalmist speaks of “the seat of the elders” implies that these are older believers who have a responsibility in the midst of God’s people. That responsibility is also to lead the people in the glorification of God.
The Supremacy of the LORD
In the previous verses, four situations have made it clear that the LORD delivers from distress when His people cry out to Him. We have also seen these situations in Israel’s history, with the ultimate result of arriving at their desired haven, which is the promised land in the realm of peace.
In the section that now follows, the situation of God’s people is not viewed from the perspective of those who are in distress, but from the perspective of Him Who has everything in His hand and controls everything (Mt 28:18; Deu 32:39). He is not only the Savior, He is also the exalted, almighty God. He is mighty in redemption, whereby He is also mighty in bringing destruction upon the enemies of His people who seek to keep them in bondage. To deliver His people from the power of Egypt, He changed rivers into a wilderness and springs of water into thirsty land (Psa 107:33; Exo 14:21; cf. Isa 50:3).
Once the people were in the land, He did the opposite: He changed “fruitful land into a salt waste because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it” (Psa 107:34). What He did to Sodom and Gomorrah is an example of this. It was a prosperous land (Gen 13:10), but the “the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD” (Gen 13:13). Therefore, God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole plain and made it a salt plain, making that area completely barren (Gen 18:20-21; Gen 19:13; 24-25).
Because of the people’s unfaithfulness – they violated the covenant and disobeyed the LORD – the fate of Sodom also became their fate. They have come into exile. That fate comes upon them as a result of the curse of the covenant (Deu 29:22-28).
For the faithful, He does the opposite (Psa 107:35). For them “He changes a wilderness into a pool of water” and “a dry land into springs of water”. This will be seen in the realm of peace (Isa 35:6-7). Then there will not only be the fruitful rain from heaven, but fountains will spring up from the ground from which fresh water flows constantly.
The realm of peace is in every sense a time of refreshment (Acts 3:19). “The hungry” no longer wander hungrily and thirstily through a wilderness (Psa 107:4-9), but “dwell” in the land of refreshment (Psa 107:36). In a spiritual sense, “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” are satisfied here (Mt 5:6).
They also “establish an inhabited city” (cf. Psa 107:7). They “establish” that city, that is, they made it habitable (cf. Isa 54:3). The cities were depopulated and turned into ruins by the unfaithfulness of God’s people. Now that the people are back with God, they can rebuild the cities and live there. To dwell means to enjoy the rest that has come after all the wanderings and hardships (cf. Isa 65:21-22).
Entering the realm of peace does not mean that there is no longer any need to work. It is a restoration of the situation in paradise, where there was also work. Work is a blessing. The curse has been removed from creation. Now the land can begin to give its full yield. To this end, they “sow fields and plant vineyards” (Psa 107:37). Their work will be blessed, they will “gather a fruitful harvest”.
It is all due to the blessing of God. “He blesses them” (Psa 107:38). Only because of this “they multiply greatly”. This is the blessing He has promised (Gen 13:16; Gen 22:17; Gen 26:4; Gen 32:12) and then gives. He also “does not let their cattle decrease”. Previously He had to do so because of their unfaithfulness, but now they are faithful to Him. This is because He has given them a new heart and written in it His law. As a result, they keep His commandments and He blesses them (Deu 28:1-12).
However, the time of the realm of peace has not yet arrived. There are periods when God blesses His people. This is the case when there is a faithful judge or a faithful king who governs God’s people according to His law. But then the people deviate again. Then “they are diminished and bowed down through oppression, misery and sorrow” (Psa 107:39). Then God must send enemies to afflict them, or crop failures, so that they will cry out to Him again in their distress.
Especially “the princes” will He make feel how much they have deviated (Psa 107:40). “He pours contempt” upon them (cf. Job 12:21a). They have been especially privileged by Him in position and wealth, in order to do good to others with it. But they have used those privileges only for themselves. We see this in the future in the false shepherds and especially the false chief shepherd, the antichrist (Eze 34:1-6; Zec 11:15-17).
Therefore, “He makes them wander in a pathless waste”. They return to a state of emptiness, displacement and hopelessness. It seems to refer to the world beyond the grave, the land of eternal darkness. There is no path for them. This is the horror of hell and the fate of all who have rejected the Lord Jesus as the Way to God. Those who do not have Him have no way, not now and not ever. This is what awaits the antichrist and with him the apostate masses of Israel.
Opposite the noble is “the needy” (Psa 107:41). He has nothing on which to boast. He is dependent on grace. That grace God gives him. He delivers him “from affliction” because he has cried out to Him and sets him “securely on high [literally: in an inaccessibly high place]”. The poor, needy remnant He will deliver from their misery and set in a safe fortress. The final and complete fulfillment of this will be enjoyed by the remnant in the realm of peace.
And He does not stop there, for He “makes [his] families like a flock”. Within that secure, inaccessibly high place, God provides a numerous offspring. A large family is a special blessing from God to which great pleasure is attached.
“The upright see” the blessing with which the LORD showered them “and are glad” (Psa 107:42a). In them, as in “the needy” of the previous verse, we recognize the faithful remnant who will be blessed after the great tribulation. They owe all their blessings to the favor of God.
The blessing that God gives to His people silences the wicked (Psa 107:42b). Iniquity has long held sway and sought to silence God by oppressing and killing His own. The perpetrators of iniquity have arrogated to themselves the rights of God and have thought they can take possession of God’s kingdom. The time will come when God confronts them with the truth. Then they will have no defense and will be silent (Mt 22:11-14).
Who Is Wise?
In all the events described we see both the failure and weakness of man and the work of God in forgiveness, deliverance and restoration. We see that God is above everything and accomplishes His work even where it seems that man makes it impossible for Him. It is precisely there that He shows how much He is exalted above man.
True wisdom is found where there is insight into the ways of God with His people and with man (cf. Hos 14:9; Deu 32:29; cf. Jam 3:13-17). He who is wise will “give heed to these things”, which are the things described in this psalm. Insight into the ways of the LORD comes through contemplation of those ways, especially by seeing events from a heavenly perspective (Psa 107:33-42). The Lord Jesus addresses these wise men in His end time speech (Mt 24:15).
Whoever gives heed to this will perceive that God is a merciful God. No one can study the works of God without seeing that there are countless institutions and statutes in His creation that have no other purpose than to make man happy.
In all His dealings with man, His lovingkindness is manifested. Those who are wise will “consider” this and let it affect them. God’s lovingkindness is the basis of all the blessings that will be enjoyed by man in fullness during the realm of peace.
The psalm begins with a call to give thanks to the LORD because of His lovingkindness, His covenant faithfulness. The psalm ends with a call to pay attention to the favors – or covenant faithfulness, based on the blood of the new covenant, the same word as in Psa 107:1 – of the LORD. If we have seen and taken in those favors in the ways of God, in His government in this world, we will be able to praise Him even more.
In Psalm 106 we see that the people of Israel did not consider the kindnesses of the LORD (Psa 106:7), so they failed to gain wisdom and remained foolish (Psa 107:17). In this sense, Psalm 107 is not just a psalm of praise, for the psalm ends as a wisdom psalm with teaching for the maskilim, that is, for those who are wise and want to become even wiser. This applies to the faithful remnant.
For us New Testament believers, this is true to a much greater degree. We are already blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places (Eph 1:3). When we are with the Lord Jesus in the Father’s house, we will come to know the full extent of this even more. There we will see everything as God has always seen it. That prospect will help us to go the way God now has for us on earth, with all the questions that go with it, to which He has the answer.
For us, too, pondering the Word of God regarding God’s ways and counsel will cause us to grow in wisdom and spiritual understanding (Eph 1:3-21; Col 1:9-29).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 107". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13