Matthew Poole's Commentary
O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.THE ARGUMENT
The most of the Psalms have a peculiar respect unto the church or people of God, or to some eminent members thereof; but there are some few Psalms which have a more general respect to all nations, of which number this is one; wherein the psalmist discourseth of the merciful providence of God towards all mankind, and of his readiness to help them in all their distresses, some few particular instances whereof he mentioneth, and leaveth the rest to be understood, there being the same reason of all. But withal he takes notice also of God’s judgments upon wicked persons and people. And by this representation of God’s mercies and judgments, he invites all nations to an acknowledgment of the true God, to praise him for his favours, and to tremble at his judgments, which is their just duty and reasonable service.
An exhortation to the redeemed to praise and celebrate the Lord, and to observe his manifold providences, Psalm 107:1-3; to strangers and captives, Psalm 107:4-16; to sick, and sea-men, Psalm 107:17-32; and to all others, commending them that carefully observe this, Psalm 107:33-43.
This whole verse occurs also Psalm 106:1; only there the address is made to the Israelites, and here to all mankind.
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;The redeemed of the Lord; all they whom God hath redeemed, as it is expressed in the next clause, or delivered from all the following calamities.
Say so, to wit, that the Lord is good, &c., as it is Psalm 107:1.
Of the enemy; of such as had taken them captives, either in battle, or in their travels, to which they were led by their own inclinations, or by their necessary occasions.
And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.Bringing them into their own land, out of the several quarters of the world into which they had been carried.
From the south, Heb. from the sea; which in Scripture commonly notes the west, because the great midland sea was on the west of Canaan; but here, as it appears from the opposition of this to the
north, it notes the south, so called from the Red Sea, which was on the south, and which is sometimes called the sea, simply and without addition, as Psalm 72:8 114:3.
They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.They wandered in the wilderness; mistaking their way, which they might easily do in the vast and sandy deserts of Arabia.
No city to dwell in; or rather, no city or town inhabited, where they might refresh themselves, as travellers used to do; for they did not go into the wilderness to seek for a city or habitation there, but only intended to pass through it, as appears by the context, and by the nature of the thing.
Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.Partly for want of necessary provisions, and partly through anguish of spirit.
Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.Unto the Lord, Heb. unto Jehovah, to the true God. For the heathens, of whom he speaks, had many of them some knowledge of the true God, and did in their manner worship him with and in their idols; and especially in their distresses, when they discovered the impotency of their idols, they did direct their prayer immediately to the true God, of which there are many instances of heathen writers.
He delivered them out of their distresses, in answer to their prayers, which he did not because their prayers were acceptable to him, but partly, out of the benignity and compassionateness of his nature to all his creatures; partly, to encourage and preserve the use of prayer and religion among the Gentiles, and to oblige them to a more diligent search after the knowledge of the true God, and of his worship; and partly, to give his own people assurance of his great readiness to hear and answer all those prayers which with upright hearts they offered to him according to his word.
And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.Led them forth out of the wilderness, where they had lost their way, Psalm 107:4.
A city of habitation: See Poole "Psalm 107:4".
Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!Oh that men would praise! Heb. Let them praise. Or, They shall praise, i.e. they are highly obliged to praise.
To the children of men; not only to his peculiar people, but to all mankind, to whom he is very kind and bountiful.
For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.The longing; either the thirsty, opposed to the hungry here following; or the hungry, as this general phrase is limited and expounded in the next clause.
With goodness; with the fruits of his goodness; with good things, Psalm 103:5; with food and gladness, Acts 14:17; with that good which they wanted and desired.
Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron;In darkness and in the shadow of death; in a disconsolate and forlorn condition, in dark prisons or dungeons.
In affliction and iron; with afflicting or grievous irons. Or, in the cords of affliction, as they are called, Job 36:8, and particularly in iron fetters.
Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High:Against the words of God; against God’s commands, made known either,
1. By his written word delivered to the Jews, of which the Gentiles were not ignorant, which therefore they should have diligently inquired after and searched into, as the queen of Sheba came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and as divers of the heathens travelled into very remote parts to gain a more perfect knowledge of the arts and sciences; which will justly be laid to their charge, and condemn them for their neglect of that Divine wisdom which was treasured up in the Holy Scriptures. Or,
2. By the prophets, who sometimes were sent to the Gentiles. Or,
3. By the law and light of nature, and by its interpreters, their wise and learned philosophers, who delivered many excellent rules and precepts of piety and virtue, which were sufficient, though not for their salvation without Christ, yet for the conduct of their lives in a great measure, and to leave them without excuse for their gross disobedience thereunto.
Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.Their heart; the pride, and rebellion, and obstinacy of their hearts.
With labour; or, with trouble or troubles. They fell into their enemy’s hands, and into hopeless and remediless miseries.
Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.No text from Poole on this verse.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.No text from Poole on this verse.
Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!No text from Poole on this verse.
For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.He restored them to liberty in spite of all impediments and oppositions.
Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.Fools, i.e. wicked men, whom he calls fools, because of the mischiefs which through their own folly they bring upon themselves.
Because of their transgression, Heb. because of the way of their transgression, i.e. their custom and course of sinning, as the word way is used, Psalm 1:1 Proverbs 2:12. They did not fall into sin once or twice, as good men may do, but it was their usual practice, and therefore they are justly punished.
Afflicted with wasting sickness, as appears from Psalm 107:18,20. Compare Job 33:19, &c.; Psalm 39:11, &c.
Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.Their soul; either themselves with all their soul; or their appetite, as the soul is taken, Job 33:20 Isaiah 29:8. Abhorreth all manner of meat; which is a Usual effect of great sickness. They draw near unto the gates of death; they are sick well nigh unto death.
Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.No text from Poole on this verse.
He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.His word; his command, or his blessing, which came with power.
Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!No text from Poole on this verse.
And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.Sacrifices of thanksgiving; either properly so called; or praises and thanksgivings to God, which in Scripture are called sacrifices, because they are no less acceptable to God than costly sacrifices.
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;Go down to the sea; he saith go down, either because the sea or the shore of it is commonly lower than their habitations from whence they come, or than the natural or artificial banks which are raised to prevent the inundation of the waters; or because the sea is lower than the earth, as may be gathered from the rivers which run down into it.
Do business; whose occupation lies there, either as merchants or as mariners.
These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.His wonderful works, either,
1. Of creation, fishes of various kinds and shapes, and some of prodigious greatness, which are unknown to other men. Or,
2. Of providence, in raising and laying storms, of which he speaks in the following verses
For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.The winds and storms come not by chance, but by the disposition of Divine Providence.
They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.To the depths; towards the bottom of the sea.
Because of trouble; through the perplexity of their minds, and fear of sudden and violent death.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.Stagger like a drunken man; not so much from the giddiness of their heads, which is not usual in persons accustomed to the sea, as through the violent and various motions of the sea and the ship.
Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.No text from Poole on this verse.
He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.No text from Poole on this verse.
Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
In the congregation of the people; not only in their own hearts and families, but even in public assemblies, and before all persons, as they have opportunity.
In the assembly of the elders; the magistrates or rulers; who are here opposed to the people. The sense is, Let them not be ashamed nor afraid to speak of God’s wonderful works and praises before the greatest of men, as mean persons commonly are. Compare Psalm 119:46. Or he mentions the elders particularly, because they were most apt to neglect and forget God, and to exalt themselves above and against him; and therefore it was meet and necessary that they should be acquainted with the almighty power and universal providence and dominion of God, that they themselves might learn subjection and reverence to God, and might promote it among their people.
He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground;Rivers; either,
1. Properly so called; which he can divert or dry up when he pleaseth, as sometimes he hath done. Or rather,
2. Those grounds which are well watered, and therefore very fruitful, as the next verse explains this. And so
the water-springs, here and Psalm 107:35, and the standing water, Psalm 107 35, are taken.
Into a wilderness; into a dry ground, as it follows, which is like a parched and barren wilderness.
A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.Into barrenness, Heb. into saltness, which procures barrenness. See Deu 29:23 Judges 9:45.
For the wickedness of them that dwell therein; he doth not inflict these judgments by choice, or without cause, but for the punishment of sin in some, and the prevention of it in others.
He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings.Into a standing water; into a well-watered and fruitful land.
And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation;The hungry; poor people; who could not provide for themselves, or were banished from their own land by potent oppressors, and were driven into wildernesses, like them Job 30:3, which God in pity to them made fruitful.
And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase.May yield, Heb. and they shall make or procure from their fields and vineyards.
Fruits of increase; such fruits as they use to produce.
He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.Preserves them from abortion and deadly diseases, and on the contrary causeth them to increase, as he said in the former branch, which is here repeated in other words, after the sane manner.
Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.They, these poor men, who, when they are exalted and blessed by God, kick at him, and grow insolent and secure, as the returner of men is,
are minished and brought low; are by God’s just judgment diminished in their numbers and in their blessings.
Through oppression, affliction, and sorrow; or, through wicked oppression, (by the tyranny of others, whom God sends to spoil them of their abused riches,) and by other griefs or grievous calamities which God inflicts.
He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.He poureth contempt upon princes; those who were honourable and adored like gods by their people, and terrible to all their enemies, he renders them despicable to their own subjects, and to other nations; and this he doth suddenly, abundantly, and unavoidably, as this phrase of pouring it out upon them seems to imply. To wander in the wilderness, where there is no way; either,
1. He giveth them up to foolish and pernicious counsels, by which they are exposed to contempt, and brought to their wit’s end, not knowing what course to take. Or,
2. He banished them from their own courts and kingdoms, and forced them to flee into desolate wildernesses for shelter and subsistence.
Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.Yet setteth he the poor on high: and whilst he bringeth down great potentates, at the same time he advanceth those who were obscure and contemptible. Like a flock, which increase very much in a little time.
The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.Shall see it; or rather, these things, as it is expressed in the next verse. They shall diligently observe these wonderful works of God’s mercy and justice.
Rejoice; not only in the mercies of God vouchsafed to them and to other persons in want and misery, but also in God’s judgments upon his implacable enemies, which afford matter of rejoicing to good men, as hath been once and again declared in this book, both for the honour which God hath by them, and for the sins and calamities of others, which by this means are prevented. Iniquity, i.e. unrighteous or ungodly men, the abstract being put for the concrete, as faithfulnesses for the faithful, Psalm 12:1, and pride for the proud, Psalm 36:11. Shall stop her mouth; shall be put to silence. So this or the like phrase is used, Judges 18:19 Job 5:16 21:5 29:9. They who used to speak loftily and wickedly, and to set their mouth against the heavens, as they did, Psalm 73:8,9, to reproach God and his providence, as either negligent or unrighteous in the management of the world, shall now be forced to acknowledge his power and justice in those judgments which he hath brought upon them.
Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.Whoso is wise, and will observe these things; or, who (for the Hebrew particle mi is interrogative) is wise? for (as the conjunctive particle is frequently used) he will observe these things. All who are truly wise will consider all these events, and lay them to heart, as being very useful for their own instruction.
Even they, or each of them, all such wise and considering persons,
shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord; will see and acknowledge that God is kind or good to all, and that his tender mercies are over all his works, as it is said, Psalm 145:9, and singularly kind and gracious to all wise and godly men.