Psalm 107:17
Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.
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(17-22) The sick.

(17) Foolsi.e., infatuated in wickedness. (Comp. the noun foolishness in Psalm 38:5 with the same ethical sense; and comp. Job 5:3 and the frequent connection of folly with sin in the book of Proverbs.) Another Hebrew word is used in the same way (Psalm 14:1).

Because of their transgressions.—Better more literally, because of way of transgression, or, their course of sin, indicating a settled habit.

Are afflicted . . .—Properly, brought (or bring) affliction on themselves. LXX. and Vulgate, “were humbled;” and some understand “afflict themselves”—i.e., grieve for their sins. This would explain the distaste for food in the next verse equally well as actual sickness. But the analogy of the other stanzas is not in favour of indicating repentance before the emphatic “then they cry,” &c.

Psalm 107:17-22. Fools — That is, wicked men whom he calls fools, because through their own sin and folly they wrong themselves, and act against their own interest; not only their spiritual, but their secular interest; they often even prejudice their bodily health by their intemperance, and endanger their lives by indulging their appetites and fleshly lusts, as well as bring upon themselves many other evils and miseries: because of their transgressions — Hebrew, מדרךְ פשׁעם, because of the way of their transgressions, that is, their custom and course of sinning, as the word way is often used; are afflicted — With wasting sickness, as appears from Psalm 107:18; Psalm 107:20. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat — They not only have no desire for it, nor power to digest it, but they nauseate it; nay, they loathe and detest the very sight and smell of that which should nourish and support them; in which case, if not relieved, they must waste away, and soon draw near to the gates of death. But from those dreadful gates the power of God can snatch them, when they are just about to enter them. “To an infirm and emaciated body he can restore health; strength, and beauty; for diseases are his ministers and messengers; they visit us at his command, and at his command they retire, and we recover again. Now here, namely, in the recovery of men from sickness, we have a third image of the benefits conferred on our nature by the Redeemer. “The mind of man,” we must remember, “by reason of sin, is not less subject to infirmities than his body; these infirmities reduce him to a state of languor and listlessness; he finds himself incapable of action, indisposed for the reception of divine truths, without taste for knowledge, or inclination for virtue; he even nauseates the book of God, and the bread of heaven; and the life of faith is in great danger. But the case is not desperate, while there is breath enough left to call in, by prayer, the Physician of spirits. The most inveterate malady gives place to his efficacious medicines; appetite revives, health returns, and the believer is reinstated in the vigour and beauty of holiness. Let all, who have been thus healed and saved from destruction, either of body or soul, acknowledge to Jehovah his mercy, and his wonders wrought for the children of Adam; let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.” — Horne.107:17-22 If we knew no sin, we should know no sickness. Sinners are fools. They hurt their bodily health by intemperance, and endanger their lives by indulging their appetites. This their way is their folly. The weakness of the body is the effect of sickness. It is by the power and mercy of God that we are recovered from sickness, and it is our duty to be thankful. All Christ's miraculous cures were emblems of his healing diseases of the soul. It is also to be applied to the spiritual cures which the Spirit of grace works. He sends his word, and heals souls; convinces, converts them, makes them holy, and all by the word. Even in common cases of recovery from sickness, God in his providence speaks, and it is done; by his word and Spirit the soul is restored to health and holiness.Fools, because of their transgression - Wicked people, considered as fools, because they "are" transgressors. Compare Psalm 14:1, note; Psalm 73:3, note; Psalm 75:4, note. The immediate allusion here, probably, is to the Jews, who had been so wicked and so supremely foolish in violating the commands of God, and making it necessary to bring upon them as a punishment the captivity at Babylon; but the language is made general because it will with equal propriety describe the conduct of all wicked people. There is nothing more foolish than an act of wickedness; there is no wisdom equal to that of obeying God.

And because of their iniquities, are afflicted - A more literal rendering of this verse would be, "Fools from the way of their transgressions (that is, by their course of transgression), and by their iniquities, afflict themselves." The idea is, that it is "in the very line" of their trangressions; or, that they "bring it upon themselves." All punishment is in fact in the line of the offence; that is, sin leads directly to it; or, in other words, if a man treads along in the path of sin, he will come to this result - to punishment. Punishment is not arbitrary on the part of God, and it is not of the nature of a mere direct infliction from his "hand." It is what people mete out to themselves, and what they might have avoided if they had chosen to do so.

17-22. Whether the same or not, this exigency illustrates that dispensation of God according to which sin brings its own punishment.

are afflicted—literally, "afflict themselves," that is, bring on disease, denoted by loathing of food, and drawing

17 Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.

18 Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.

19 Then they cry unto the Logo in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.

20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

21 Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.

Psalm 107:17

"Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted." Many sicknesses are the direct result of foolish acts. Thoughtless and lustful men by drunkenness, gluttony, and the indulgence of their passions fill their bodies with diseases of the worst kind. Sin is at the bottom of all sorrow, but some sorrows are the immediate results of wickedness; men by a course of transgression afflict themselves and are fools for their pains. Worse still, even when they are in affliction they are fools still; and if they were brayed in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet would not their folly depart from them. From one transgression they go on to many iniquities, and while under the rod they add sin to sin. Alas, even the Lord's own people sometimes play the fool in this sad manner.

Psalm 107:18

"Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat." Appetite departs from men when they are sick: the best of food is nauseous to them, their stomach turns against it. "And they draw near unto the gates of death." From want of food, and from the destructive power of their malady, they slide gradually down till they lie at the door of the grave; neither does the skill of the physician suffice to stay their downward progress. As they cannot eat there is no support given to the system, and as the disease rages their little strength is spent in pain and misery. Thus it is with souls afflicted with a sense of sin, they cannot find comfort in the choicest promises, but turn away with loathing even from the gospel, so that they gradually decay into the grave of despair. The mercy is that though near the gates of death they are not yet inside the sepulchre.

Psalm 107:19

"Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble." They join the praying legion at last. Saul also is among the prophets. The fool lays aside his motley in prospect of the shroud, and betakes himself to his knees. What a cure for the soul sickness of body is often made to be by the Lord's grace I "And he saveth them out of their distresses." Prayer is as effectual on a sick bed as in the wilderness or in prison; it may be tried in all places and circumstance with certain result. We may pray about our bodily pains and weaknesses, and we may look for answers too. When we have no appetite for meat we may have an appetite for prayer. He who cannot feed on the word of God may yet turn to God himself and find mercy.

Psalm 107:20

"He sent his word and healed them." Man is not healed by medicine alone, but by the word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God is man restored from going down to the grave. A word will do it, a word has done it thousands of times. "And delivered them from their destructions." They escape though dangers had surrounded them, dangers many and deadly. The word of the Lord has a great delivering power; he has but to speak and the armies of death flee in an instant. Sin-sick souls should remember the power of the Word, and be much in hearing it and meditating upon it.


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. Fools, because of their transgression,.... Or, "because of the way" (h) "of it"; their sinful course of life; for it is not for a single transgression they are afflicted, but for a continued series of sinning, which is a transgression of the law of God. By "fools" are meant not idiots, men devoid of common sense and natural understanding, but immoral persons; such who have no understanding of divine and spiritual things; are destitute of the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom; without the true knowledge of God himself; place their happiness in sensual enjoyments; seek only the gratification of their lust; scoff at religion, make a mock at sin, and have no concern about a future state, and the welfare of their immortal souls.

And because of their iniquities, are afflicted; or "afflict themselves", or "find themselves afflicted" (i); rather "bring affliction on themselves" (k). Not that these are the only persons that are afflicted; for many truly wise, good, and gracious persons, have a large share of afflictions; though not in a way of punishment for sin, or in wrath and hot displeasure, but in a way of fatherly chastisement, and in love: nor are fools for the most part afflicted, nor so much as others; they are not in trouble and plagued as other men; which has been a stumbling to good men: however, sometimes they are afflicted in this life, and in a way of punishment for sin; and very often are but the more hardened by it; though to some it is an ordinance for good; they are awakened by it to a sense of sin, and acknowledgment of it, and to seek for pardoning grace and mercy. This is the "third" instance of persons in distress calling on the Lord, and finding relief (l), and being under obligation to praise him.

(h) "propter viam", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator. (i) "sese adflictos sentiebant", Michaelis. (k) So Tigurine version. (l) "Flectitur iratus voce rogante Deus", Ovid. de Arte Amandi, l. 1.

{g} Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.

(g) They who have no fear of God, by his sharp rods are brought to call on him, and so find mercy.

17. Fools] Many commentators think that some word is needed to express the plight of those whose restoration is to be described, and

conjecture that we should read sick (חולים) instead of fools (אולים). This emendation gives a good parallelism:—Those who are sick by reason of their course of transgression, and bring affliction on themselves by their iniquities. But the change is unnecessary. The poet looks behind the sickness to the sin which was its cause. Folly denotes moral perversity, not mere weakness or ignorance; it leads to ruin. It is the opposite of wisdom, which leads to life. Cp. Proverbs 1:7, &c.; Job 5:3. Sickness is commonly regarded in the O.T. as the consequence and punishment of sin. Cp. Psalm 38:5. That sickness is not necessarily a proof of sin was one of the great lessons taught in the Book of Job.

their transgression] Lit. the way of their transgression, implying persistence in evil courses.

are afflicted] The form of the verb conveys the meaning, bring affliction on themselves.

17–22. A third example of Divine goodness, in the restoration of those who have been punished with sickness for their sins, based upon Job 33:19-26.Verses 17-22. - A third class of persons under God's displeasure are punished by grievous sickness, and brought to the very verge of the grave. They, too, in many cases, turn to God, and, "crying to him," are delivered from their peril. It is for them, under such circumstances, to make a return by means of praise and thanks giving. Verse 17. - Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Some read חולִים, "sick men," for ךאוִלִים, "fools," here. But the change is not necessary. Folly and sin are regarded as two aspects of the same moral condition by the sacred writers, and sickness is spoken of as an ordinary punishment for them (Job 33:17-22; 2 Kings 5:27; 2 Chronicles 21:15; 2 Chronicles 26:16-19; Acts 12:23). Others suffered imprisonment and bonds; but through Him who had decreed this as punishment for them, they also again reached the light of freedom. Just as in the first strophe, here, too, as far as יודוּ in Psalm 107:15, is all a compound subject; and in view of this the poet begins with participles. "Darkness and the shadow of death" (vid., Psalm 23:4) is an Isaianic expression, Isaiah 9:1 (where ישׁבי is construed with ב), Psalm 42:7 (where ישׁבי is construed as here, cf. Genesis 4:20; Zechariah 2:11), just as "bound in torture and iron" takes its rise from Job 36:8. The old expositors call it a hendiadys for "torturing iron" (after Psalm 105:18); but it is more correct to take the one as the general term and the other as the particular: bound in all sorts of affliction from which they could not break away, and more particularly in iron bonds (בּרזל, like the Arabic firzil, an iron fetter, vid., on Psalm 105:18). In Psalm 107:11, which calls to mind Isaiah 5:19, and with respect to Psalm 107:12, Isaiah 3:8, the double play upon the sound of the words is unmistakeable. By עצה is meant the plan in accordance with which God governs, more particularly His final purpose, which lies at the basis of His leadings of Israel. Not only had they nullified this purpose of mercy by defiant resistance (המרה) against God's commandments (אמרי, Arabic awâmir, âmireh) on their part, but they had even blasphemed it; נאץ, Deuteronomy 32:19, and frequently, or נאץ (prop. to pierce, then to treat roughly), is an old Mosaic designation of blasphemy, Deuteronomy 31:20; Numbers 14:11, Numbers 14:23; Numbers 16:30. Therefore God thoroughly humbled them by afflictive labour, and caused them to stumble (כּשׁל). But when they were driven to it, and prayed importunately to Him, He helped them out of their straits. The refrain varies according to recognised custom. Twice the expression is ויצעקו, twice ויזעקו; once יצילם, then twice יושׁיעם, and last of all יוציאם, which follows here in Psalm 107:14 as an alliteration. The summary condensation of the deliverance experienced (Psalm 107:16) is moulded after Isaiah 45:2. The Exile, too, may be regarded as such like a large jail (vid., e.g., Isaiah 42:7, Isaiah 42:22); but the descriptions of the poet are not pictures, but examples.
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