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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms
Psalms 107

 

 

Verses 1-43

Psalm 107:1-43

V:1-7. (Note, Psalm 136:13.) " Eternal mercy is the theme here proposed; and they who have " tasted its sweets, are invited to join in setting forth its praises. The members of the Christian church are now, in the most ...emphatical sense of the words, " the re" deemed of JEHOVAH, whom he hath redeemed from the " hand of the enemy, and gathered them," by the gospel, out of all lands." Bp. Home. It is probable that this Psalm was composed by David, if he indeed were the author of the two preceding psalms : as those relate to the Lord"s dealings with Israel; and this calls our attention to his providential care of mankind in general. But, while we primarily notice the literal sense; we shall also perceive, that the instances, which are selectee, are pictures, or similitudes, of the blessings pertaining to salvation. There seems in these verses some reference to the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, their wanderings in the desert, and their settlement in Canaan; yet they do not exactly or exclusively apply to these events. The Israelites were not gathered out of the lands, from the east, west, north, and south : but they were redeemed from the power of Pharaoh; and wandered in the wilderness, and hungered and thirsted, and were led far round, yet in a right way. (Notes, Deuteronomy 8:2-5.) For a long time, they " found no city " to dwell in : " (Note, Numbers 14:27-30 :) at length they were settled in a land, where cities were ready prepared for them, and where they were abundantly satisfied with every earthly blessing. The case of travellers in those countries seems also referred to. A number of people, collected from all quarters, march together through the sandy deserts; where they are liable to be assaulted by robbers and plunderers, and are in danger of losing their way, 01of perishing by hunger and thirst. But when they are in trouble, and call upon the Lord, he delivers them from their enemies and dangers, and guides them, in his providence, to the cities which they mean to inhabit. The words likewise exactly describe the case of those, whom the Lord has redeemed from the bondage of Satan, and collected from all parts of the earth; who pass through the world as a perilous and dreary wilderness : who are often ready to faint through troubles, fears, and temptations; who learn to call upon the Lord in every danger and difficulty, and are guarded, fed, and refreshed, till they at length arrive at that city, which the Lord has prepared for their habitation; where their longing souls will be for ever satisfied with his goodness. Perhaps the recovery of the Jews from their dispersions was also predicted; as the conclusion of the foregoing Psalm seems peculiarly applicable to their present condition. (Marg. Ref.Note, Psalm 106:47-48.)

V:8 , 9. " Let them praise the Lord for his goodness." The kindness and compassion of God to the sons of fallen Adam, in abundantly supplying their temporal wants, demands the return of admiring praise and thanksgiving : but his mercy, in providing for the spiritual wants of perishing sinners, and thus " satisfying the longing soul, and " filling the hungry soul with goodness," which shall endure for ever in full perfection, is most astonishing; and to eternity every one of the redeemed, with all his powers, will celebrate his goodness of the Lord, and his wonderful works to the sons of Adam. (Notes, Psalm 34:9-10. Psalm 36:5-9; Psalm 104:27-30. Luke 1:46-55.) Our translation is not strictly literal; yet it gives the evident sense of the passage; and it has a peculiar animation, as repeated after every instance of the divine goodness and mercy. (Marg. Ref.)

V:10- 16. The Psalmist next selocted the case of prisoners delivered from their dreary cells. We are led to conceive of persons shut up in a dark and unwholesome dungeon, barricaded on every side by gates of brass and bars of iron, and loaded with galling fetters; condemned to die, and hourly expecting to be led to execution. This they are supposed to have merited by their crimes; having both violated the laws of Prayer of Manasseh , and rebelled against the word of God. In this deplorable condition, bowed down with pain and anguish of spirit, they are represented as praying to the Lord, and, by his power over the hearts and affairs of men, marvellously set at liberty. Multitudes, through successive generations, have doubtless experienced such an unmerited and unexpected escape : and the deliverance of the Jews from their abject slavery in Egypt, and their captivity in Babylon, must occur to the mind of the attentive reader, with many particular instances recorded in scripture. (Marg. Ref. Notes, 2 Kings 25:27-30. 2 Chronicles 33:11-19.) But it is also a shadow of the sinner"s deliverance from a far worse imprisonment. By rebellion against God, men are brought under the condemnation of his holy law; and Satan, by means of their lusts, has obtained dominion over them, and holds them fast in the most miserable bondage. This the awakened sinner discovers, and becomes sensible of his guilt, misery, and danger : and, having struggled hard, but in vain, for deliverance, he finds there is no help for him but in the mercy and grace of God. For this he seeks by earnest, persevering prayer; and thus he receives liberty and peace.

(Notes, Isaiah 49: 9- 13; 52: 2 , 3; 611- 3. Zechariah 9:11-12. Luke 4:16-22. Acts 26:16-18.) Let us revert to the poor prisoner before described; if a free pardon be sent him, his chains are soon knocked off; the gates and bars of iron and brass fly open; the jailor has no longer power to detain him; the gloom, horror, and despair of the dungeon are exchanged, for the cheerful light of the sun and the wholesome air; the company of malefactors, the presence of the keeper, the rattling of chains, the expectation of the executioner with the implements of death, and the squalid attire of a prison, are changed for his own house, the society and congratulations of his friends and relatives, and all the comforts of liberty. All this is in a measure the case with the true Christum in this world : but at the resurrection, when the gates of the grave shall be thrown open, and sin and death shall he (inally done with, his deliverance and his gratitude will together be perfected. (Marg-. Ref. Note, 8 , 9.)

V:17- 22. The next case selected is that of recovery from sickness, especially when the sickness has been the eft"ect of licentiousness, excess, or iniquity : for though all diseases spring from sin, yet some are more immediately the effect of men"s personal transgressions. (Note, John 5:10-14.) The righteous providence of God has connected several loathsome and dreadful diseases, with different kinds of excessive or forbidden gratifications; yet men rush forward without regard to consequences : thus, " fools, because of their transgression ...are afflicted." Loss of strength and of appetite are attended with excessive pain, and death presents itself before their affrighted minds : then the most profane will sometimes cry unto the Lord; and though their prayer is often the mere instinctive voice of distress, and only means, " Torment me " not:" yet he frequently hears them, and unexpectedly restores their health" and strength. (Notes, Job 33:19-30.) Probably, Christ by his powerful word healed some of this description when he was on earth : and all his miracles were emblematic of his healing the far worst- diseases of our souls. We are, as fallen creatures, prone to pride, ambition, envy, malice, covetousness, and sensual lusts: but most men exceedingly increase these fatal distempers by habits of indulgence. The convinced sinner knows that these maladies must terminate in hopeless misery, unless cured; and he finds by experience, that he can increase, but cannot remedy them : he even feels his carnal mind and heart recoil at those things, which should be the nourishment of his soul, and he often apprehends that his destruction is inevitable. But he fervently and importunately cries unto the Lord in this distressing emergency, and by his word and Spirit his soul is gradually restored to health and holiness. The original is future, " He " will save, &c." implying an encouragement to all, in every age and land, who feel their misery, to cry unto God for help; and a call on those who are helped, to bless God for his mercies, and to excite others to seek the same blessings. (Note, 8 , 9.) Sacrifice, &c. (22.) Marg. Ref. Notes,

Psalm 50:22-23, v23. Psalm 116:17-19. Hebrews 13:15-16.

V:23- 30. The case of mariners is next dwelt on. They transact their business upon the unstable and tempestuous ocean; and there witness scenes, and experience deliverances, of which others can scarcely form a conception. When, at the command of that God, whom the winds and waves obey, a storm arises; their situation becomes most tremendous, and it seems every moment as if the vessel must be swallowed up by the raging billows. In this perilous situation, the most courageous are often dismayed : they are tossed about by the violent motion of the vessel, as if they staggered through drunkenness; and, being baffled in all their efforts, " all their wisdom is swallowed up," (marg.) or has totally exhausted itself; and the most skilful and experienced are at a loss what further to do, to escape impending death. But when they call upon the Lord in their distress, they are often rescued, as from the very jaws of destruction, by the ceasing of the storm, or by some unexpected way of escape; and their terror is succeeded by proportionable gladness, when they arrive safe at their destined and much desired harbour.

(Notes, Jonah 1:4-16. Matthew 8:23-27. Acts 27:14-44.) This too may be a picture or emblem of those terrors and that distress of conscience, which many experience, when they first apply their minds to religion : and of those deep scenes of trouble and temptation, which some, far more than others, pass through, in their subsequent course; when, like Job , they seem to be set up as marks, at which Satan is permitted to shoot all his fiery darts; and by every suggestion to fill them with hard thoughts of God, and desperate conclusions concerning themselves. These are, like the mariner, exposed to tempests unknown to others, and are sometimes almost " at " their wits" end; " their wisdom is swallowed up, and their hearts and hope seem entirely to fail them : yet in answer to their humble and earnest cries, the Lord turns their storms into a calm, and causes their trials to terminate in gladness and praise.

(Notes, Job 3:1; Job 3:9; Job 3:14-21. P. O22- 35.) The church is a ship; the world is a sea; " temptations, persecutions, and afflictions are the waves " of it; " the prince of the power of the air," is the stormy " wind which raises them; and heaven is the only port of " rest and security. Often, during the voyage, for our " punishment, or our trial, God permitteth us to be " thus assaulted. The succession and the violence of our " troubles, the elevations and depressions of mind and for" tune, ...and our utter inability to help ourselves, are finely " represented by the multitude and impetuosity of the " waves, the tossings and agitations of the vessel, the con" fusion, terror, and distress among the sailors. ... With " the earnestness of affrighted mariners... we should cry " unto the Lord Jesus in our trouble; we should as it were " awake him, like the disciples, with repetitions of " Lord, " " save us, we perish." Then will he arise, and rebuke the " authors of our tribulation, saying unto them, " Peace, be " " still." ... He will make the storm a calm, so that the " waves thereof shall be still : and at length he will bring " us, in peace, joy, and gladness, to " our desired haven," " there to exalt him in the congregation of his chosen, and " praise him in the great assembly of saints and angels. " This is the consummation so devoutly ...requested by the " church for all her children, at the time of their baptism, " that they " being delivered from God"s wrath, may be received into the Ark of Christ"s church; and being steadfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in charity, " " may so pass the waves of this troublesome world, that " " finally they may come to the land of everlasting life." "Bp. Horne.

V:31 , 32. " Oh, that they, who are thus unexpectedly " preserved, would never forget to make their thankful acknowledgments to the LORD for this singular kindness; " hut every where proclaim what wonders he hath done for " them ! Let them magnify his power and goodness in the " greatest assemblies of the people, especially in his tempie. Let them praise him in the supreme court of the " kingdom; that judges and governors may be excited to " make him their Trust and Confidence." Bp. Patrick.

(Notes, Psalm 22:2-31. Psalm 40:9-10. Psalm 119:46. Psalm 138:4-5. Matthew 10:16-18.)

V:33- 43. The righteous Lord also effects changes, as he pleases, in the face of nature and the affairs of nations; drying up rivers, and turning well-watered, fertile countries into barren deserts, for the wickedness of the inhabitants. Thus Canaan itself is now remarkable for its sterility. (Note, Deuteronomy 29:21-25.) On the contrary, other regions, which were barren and uncultivated, in the course of his providence become most fruitful and flourishing; where colonies of destitute persons build cities, cultivate the lands, and are blessed and increased exceedingly. The casting of the Jews out of the church, and the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles, answer to this picture. The well-watered and fruitful soil is become dry and barren; while the wilderness is filled with pools of water and wells of salvation.

(Notes, Isaiah 24: 13 -16; 30: 23- 25; 32: 15- 20; 35: 1 , 25- 7; 41: 17-20; 43: 14-21; 44: 3-5; 5512, 13.)

The gospel flourished for a time exceedingly among the Gentiles : but it has been brought low and minished, in different places, through oppression and persecution, and internal corruptions or divisions. Yet contempt has repeatedly been poured upon persecuting princes; and even upon such as, professing friendship, have attempted to " lord it over God"s heritage;" so that they have been bewildered and infatuated in their counsels, like men who have lost their way: (Notes, 2 Kings 3:7-14. Isaiah 23: 8, 9 :) while the poor and persecuted church of God has been revived from the dust, and again increased and prospered. This will be more eminently the case in future times, when the righteous will see it and rejoice, and all iniquity will be finally silenced, (Notes, Romans 2:4-6; Romans 3:3; Romans 3:19-20.) In the mean while, the wise will notice these varied dispensations of Providence, and will learn to walk in those ways, in which the loving-kindness of the Lord may be understood and experienced. (Notes, Ixiv7- 9. Hosea 14:9.) "A truly "wise" person will treasure up in " his heart the contents of this most instructive and delightful psalm. By so doing, he will fully " understand " " ... the weakness and wretchedness of Prayer of Manasseh , and the power " anit " loving-kindness " of God; who, not for our merits, and but for his mercy-sake, dispelleth our ignorance, breaketh off our sins, healeth our infirmities, preserveth us in " temptations, placeth us in the church, cnrichctK us with " his grace, sheltereth us from persecution, blesseth us in " time, and will crown us in eternity." Bp Home. Barrenness. (34) " Saltness." Mars. (Notes, Genesis 14:1-3. Deuteronomy 29:21-25. Ezekiel 47:11.)

PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS.

V:1- 9.

Wherever we turn our thoughts, we perceive the effects of the Lord"s goodness and mercy, which should excite our grateful praises : but the redeemed alone will unfeignedly thank him even for providential benefits. The Bible instructs us, and faith will enable us, to perceive the hand of God in those events, which unbelief ascribes to chance, to second causes, or subordinate agents. (Note, Luke 10:30-37, end.) Whatever means or instruments are employed, the Lord is the great Agent. We should therefore mark his operation in the ordinary occurrences of life, and render him thanks for every instance of his kindness, to us and to our connexions. When we have been preserved or delivered from hostile invasions, and the assaults of robbers and assassins; when we are brought safe home from long or perilous journeys; when provided with things needful for our bodies, placed in convenient habitations, or enjoying domestick comforts; how pleasant and right is it, that we should " praise the LORD for his goodness, " and for his wonderful works " to us, the sinful children of fallen Adam ! But alas ! we are most apt to forget the hand of God, when every thing corresponds to our wishes : and therefore he brings us into trouble and danger, that we may feel our dependence, and call upon him for deliverance; and that, when our desires are granted, we may either render him our tribute of praise, or be left inexcusable in our neglect.

V:10-22.

Sin is always to be considered as the source of all our troubles; and we might justly be left to struggle with them, 01to sink under them, without help from that God, against whom we have rebelled, and whose counsel we have rejected. But there are many afflictions, which are the immediate consequences of men"s crimes. Such are especially, in most instances, the horrors of a prison, and the prospect of an ignominious death. Yet alas ! how many are in this most dreadful situation, brought down with anguish of heart, and having none to help them ! And when such persons unexpectedly obtain liberty and all its comforts, how should they praise the Lord for his goonness to them ! Yet it is but seldom that their sorrows and terrors are productive of genuine humiliation before God, and fervent prayer unto him : and therefore they continently return to their former courses, and perish at last more inexcusable and unpitied. Thus also infatuated multitudes entail upon themselves months and years of disease and pain, by moments of licentious indulgence : and if, in answer to their cries of distress or prayer of faith, the Lord bring them back from the gates of death, surely they should praise him for his goodness, and sacrifice to him the sacrifices of thanksgiving, with fervency equal to their great unworthiness of such favours, and proportioned to the consequences of dying in such a manner ! Yet, while thousands are cured in our hospitals, and by various charities, as well as in other ways, even of diseases contracted by licentiousness and excess; it is to be feared that, a very small number excepted, they generally manifest their ingratitude, by returning to their former excesses; and the event generally illustrates the benevolence as well as wisdom and piety, of fervently exclaiming, " Oh, that men " would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his "" wonderful works to the children of men! That they "" would offer the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare " his works with rejoicing." (Note and P. O. Luke 17:11-19.)

V:23-32.

The perils, to which seamen are exposed, are not commonly the effect of their own transgressions : but, as they " do their business in great waters," they see so much of the wonderful works of God, that their too general irreligion forms one of the most lamentable demonstrations of the depravity of the human heart. If we were strangers to these truths and facts, we should expect that those, who had once beheld the storm arise in obedience to the Creator"s will, and had experienced the horrors of the tremendous scene, which baffles all description; with that dismay and astonishment, which must be inseparable from the idea of being every moment liable to be swallowed up by the raging billows, without being able to do any thing to prevent it; who in their extreme distress had cried unto the Lord for help, and had in some marvellous manner been unexpectedly preserved, and restored in peace to their desired haven; we might expect, I say, that they would certainly unite fervent gratitude with their overflowing gladness; and not only employ their tongues, but spend the remnant of their days, to the glory of their great Preserver, " exalting him in the congregation of the people, " and praising him in the assembly of the elders." This ought uniformly to be the case : but how evident and lamentable is the general and awful reverse !

V:33-43.

The surprising changes, which are continually taking place in the affairs of nations, families, and individuals; while some are cast down from the summit of prosperity, and others advanced from the depth of adver- sity; evince our absolute dependence upon God in every thing, and shew that neglect of him, or rebellion against him, are as unreasonable as they are wicked.

(Note, Psalm 113:7-9. 1 Samuel 2:4-8.) The fertility and populousness of nations depend on his sovereign will; and he effects what changes he pleases, for the display of his justice, or of his mercy. In his providence, a few poor hungry outcasts have sometimes migrated into a waste howling wilderness, and have there been enabled to build cities, and to cultivate the previously barren desert; and so have become prosperous, and multiplied exceedingly : yet, after a time perhaps, affluence has introduced luxury and impiety; and for their punishment they have been minished and brought low, by oppression and publick calamities. Hebrews , who set them up when afflicted and poor, pours contempt upon them when they are become powerful princes, and perhaps reduces them to their former abject state. The righteous, beholding these judgments of God, will rejoice in his just and gracious sovereignty : and thus, from time to time, iniquity receives a check, and infidelity stands confuted : and he that is truly wise will observe these things, and will be encouraged in trusting and waiting for the loving-kindness of the Lord. But the same persons will see still more of the Wisdom of Solomon , power, and love of God, in his dealings with his church of redeemed sinners, whom he has gathered from the east, the west, the north, and the south, to be unto him a peculiar people. Having redeemed them from the power of the enemy, he guides them through this desolate wilderness to his holy habitation. Having caused them to hunger and thirst after righteousness, when they were ready to faint and perish, he supplied their wants from his abundant stores : having taught them to seek help from him, he will never leave them, till he has fully satisfied their longing souls with his goodness. From bondage, terror, and the borders of despair, he brings them forth to liberty, to confidence, and comfort. He heals their diseases, restores their strength and vigour, and even removes those troubles which they have brought upon themselves by their own folly. He preserves them through the storms of temptation and persecution : he speaks peace, and commands a calm, to their souls, when they are ready to give up all for lost. While they are steering to the haven where they would be, they will be praising the Lord for his goodness, celebrating his wonderful works for them, " sacrificing the sacrifices of thanksgiving, declaring his works " with gladness," and " exalting him in the congregation " of his people." At length their souls will arrive at their expected rest; and at the appointed season the brazen gates and iron bars of death will be burst by the power of their redeeming God : but who can describe their joy and gratitude, when "mortality shall thus be swallowed up of life!" Let us also remember to praise our God, for turning the wilderness, which we Gentiles inhabited, into a fruitful land, and opening for us the wells of salvation. (Note, Is. Psalm 12:3.) Let us pray that the Jewish nation, which has been so long a barren desert, may again be watered with his grace, and bring forth the fruits of faith and holiness. Let all the Lord"s ministers and people cultivate their fields and vineyards, their own souls, and those of their families and congregations; that, being blessed exceedingly, the church may yield more abundantly " the fruits of increase1 " Let us pray for the revival of religion in those places, where the church is minished and brought low, through oppression, or corrupted with superstition and error : and that God would convert, or pour contempt upon, all those princes or people, who oppose the promulgation of his pure gospel, that they may lose their labour, and be baffled in all their devices; and that he would replenish the poor in spirit and afflicted in circumstances, and increase every one of his people into families, like large flocks of sheep. Then shall the righteous behold and rejoice, and iniquity shall be disgraced and repressed; and the wise observer will more and more understand and admire and adore " the loving-kindness of the LORD."

 


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Bibliography Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 107:4". Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsp/psalms-107.html. 1804.

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Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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