Monday, Sep 20th

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Psalm 107

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I agree with Matthew Henry, that this Psalm builds upon the previous two, which praised God, by showing how God, though primarily concerned with His chosen nation, nevertheless looks after the whole world. And, even outside the nation of Israel, people knew and acknowledged the One True Lord, and often threw aside their local false gods, seeking Jehovah instead, when they needed help. What this implies is what Christians already know – that God is real, can be approached, and will help if we cry out in sincere repentance and faith.

Verses 1-7

  1. O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

  2. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

  3. And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.

  4. They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.

  5. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.

  6. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.

  7. And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.

We do not thank God enough for His goodness, from salvation of our souls, to building us in His knowledge, to everyday providential care. Not only that, but His “mercy (lasts) forever”. Thus, we thank and praise Him because not only do we know His mercy in our lifetime, but it lasts in our souls even when we reach Heaven. Let all who are saved say so, because each of us has been redeemed from our enemy, Satan and death. The chosen people were returned home from all over, where they were held captive. The people wandered in the deserts for a long time, not knowing where they would get their food and drink from. Then, they called to Jehovah and He provided for their needs. And, to reach their place of refuge, he led them “by the right way”. God never guides us the wrong way! The right way can be arduous, filled with dangers, and maybe woes, but it is the right way, the way of the Lord. It is the narrow road, straight and true. All other roads lead to sin and despair. We must all walk this narrow road, even if hard, to honour the Lord Who paid our ransom; He is our redeemer, ga’al. He is also our avenger and, as kinsman-redeemer, is our closest family, royal and divine, even closer than our earthly family.

Verses 8-14

  1. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

  2. For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

  3. Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron;

  4. Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High:

  5. Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.

  6. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.

  7. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.

Oh that those who belonged to God would remember this! It should be our love, not just our duty, to praise Him for everything. It is a key to our spiritual and earthly existence. Everything He does for us is wondrous, because we deserve nothing from His hand. It is well said that everyone seeks God. But, only those who are elect and saved seek Him as He SHOULD be sought. Everyone else, unsaved, seek only their idea of God, a false god who gives them their every sinful desire. Thus, only the saved will seek Him in truth… a man with a dead spirit has no inclination to do so.

God even helps people who hate Him, by giving them seasons, wealth and relative health. But, they only hate Him… and us. He has done amazing works in and for them, yet they continue to hate. Today, we see this acting out before our eyes. Those who so hate have empty souls and faithless lives that increase their woes and wickedness, bringing nothing but misery to them. Amidst their self-wrought misery they want even more, because their hatred for God is uppermost! Those who are elect and saved alone can know peace and honour, truth and fulfilment. Even if they are enslaved or captured by enemies (verse 10), and some under threat of death sentences. They brought their conditions upon their own heads by sinning against their Lord (verse 11). We do this in our modern times! We sin and yet expect to retain goodness and wondrous lives! No – God WILL show us His displeasure. Do not think human words of anger against the Lord will change His wishes.

In Egypt, the Hebrews were taken into slavery and driven to hard labour and death. They did so for 400 years until God at last gave them help in the form of Moses. He delivered God’s judgments upon Pharaoh, and finally led the people into the deserts, away from their slavery. Christians must be driven to the very end of their tethers before God helps. Until that time they hold their own aims and desires dear, and do not hand over every part of their being to the Lord. So, He holds back, even if we have to suffer. (This is commonplace, but not all suffering is caused by our refusal to follow God). Unfortunately, many Hebrews did not replace bands of slavery in their minds with godly intent, so wanted to return to slavery! What an insult to our holy Lord Who gave them everything!

Verses 15-21

  1. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

  2. For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.

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

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

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

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

  7. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

One can imagine the writer raising his arms and sighing out loud: “Oh WHY don’t men praise God?” The Lord’s goodness towards mankind is so obvious, and He has done so much, including taking them out of bondage. No matter how bad the situation, God can dismiss it instantly by simply uttering His word of command. No barrier to freedom is able to stand in His way!

Those who are under threat and evil are so because they are fools, ‘eviyl. That is, they think, speak and act foolishly. They have no stomach for wisdom, mock those who discover them in their guilt, quarrel and are licentious; they are perverse and impious. Seems to sum up the people of today found in growing numbers, as well as those in the psalmist’s day.

Note the sequence – they commit sin, disbelieve God, and sin easily. For this reason they are counted to be transgressors – sinners. The consequence is that they suffer and are attacked. While some are attacked just for being faithful to God, most are attacked because of their laxity and sin! They bring danger and woes upon their own heads through disobedience, as well as sickness. Every one of us can fall to these evils.

Then comes a strange statement – these people hate food (‘okel) of any kind and so come close to death. Sounds rather like those called anorexic today, but mainly it refers to people whose sickness makes them unable or unwilling to eat. Even those with wealth can end up this way, because of sin. As their predicament becomes apparent and life-threatening so they cry out to God for help. And God then does so. We can take from this that they firstly repented. There are so many reasons to praise God, even after we have ignored His commands and relied on our own means.

Verses 22-30

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

  2. They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;

  3. These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.

  4. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.

  5. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.

  6. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.

  7. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.

  8. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.

  9. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

The psalmist now links praising God to sailors. They, especially, should praise God, because it is almost a part of their daily work. Above all people they should give suitable thanksgiving sacrifices to Jehovah as they proclaim His wonders with great joy. Why sailors?

Today, sailors tend to be in modern ships, relatively safe and secure. Here it seems the psalmist is particularly talking about those on the high seas, at a time when ships rarely lost sight of the coast. Even then, they encountered weather and events not seen on land… waves that were so high as to threaten their lives, and sloughs so deep it looked like they would swallow them up. Think of Jonah, or Paul, as they came so very close to death as storms raged.

Sailors, then, “see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep”. The sea in a storm is at once frightening and yet majesterial. Nothing can stop the waves or the terrors of their violence, or the weather storms that whip them into a frenzy. In sailors whose lives depend on the same elements, while they sail with fear they also know unlimited awe for the sea and weather. For at such a time they came close to immense wonder and danger. Their fears are countered by God, Who they call upon when their terrors reach breaking point in storms. They “reel to and fro” on decks lashed by waters they cannot stop and come to “their wits’ end”.

Yet, in their terror they call upon Jehovah! He listens and calms the seas and weather, just as Jesus did much later when on the Sea of Galilee. They did so by their word alone. All God has to do to settle a raging ocean is say “Stop”. But, here, the people in danger had to cry out first, recognising their dire circumstance and knowing only God can help. He calms the storm and the waves, untamed by men, and stops them churning, finally to lay still. The sailors find relief and praise God, as He takes them calmly into port. Few people today go through genuinely awful times they cannot stop or change. Some Christians, however, have to go through real distress. They must call on God in their fear, and He will help them.

Verses 31-37

  1. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

  2. Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

  3. He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground;

  4. A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.

  5. He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings.

  6. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation;

  7. And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase.

So – all men should praise God because He comes to their side when they seek His help and is inherently good. Most Christians know nothing or little of fears and untoward circumstances, so their understanding of this will be superficial. Those who know such tumult in a real way will recognise fear and that only God can help them. So, let those few praise God amongst their fellows and pastors. Not only does God help those in distress, but He can change deserts into green pastures, make dry ground break open with springs of life-giving water. He is the Lord of Creation!

Likewise, he can stop the earth giving its fruit, unable to cause growth. And this He will do when the people become wicked. It is why we now see such evil growing in our nations… leaders are wicked and they lead others into the same cauldron of sin. So, God can make everything turn bad, or what is bad to what is good. He prepares our lives in such a way that we may show Him our faith and trust. He then builds upon that foundation so our lives become what they ought to be… hunger for God allows Him to feed us with many foods, temporal, mental, emotional and spiritual. The increase is His, and when we obey and trust, we enjoy the fruits of His gifts and wonders.

Verses 38-43

  1. He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.

  2. Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.

  3. He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.

  4. Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.

  5. The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.

  6. Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.

When we live for the Lord and not ourselves, God increases us in so many ways – children, income, health, etc. Perhaps not all at once – each has His tailored blessings. Thus, some will never know the increases others might have. It does not matter, for each is given what God determines is good for his soul. This means that whatever is our condition in life, will be the optimum God has determined. It is where we should be in His plan for our lives, so we must praise Him for it. If we do not, and we grow dim in our faith, He will allow or send penalties and enemies. “they (and we) are minished”. That is, He reduces our blessings and daily life gifts and we are “brought low” as we suffer “oppression, affliction and sorrow”. Have you ever suffered in this way? I mean REALLY suffered? Or, is your life one flat mill-pond with no ripples? If the latter you should query your own spiritual status.

God’s penalties and reduction or cessation of blessings will afflict even princes and rulers. To God there is no distinction for all are His creatures, to whom He can send good or ill. Indeed, if they (or we) so displease the Lord He will add His contempt, buwz – He will despise us and pour shame upon their heads. In this condition they shall know no rest, only a deep anxiety of the soul; in this they find no peace or answers, until they repent and give everything to God.

By contrast, those who are “poor” he raises high, freeing them from insurmountable problems, and giving many blessings (in the text – many children to comfort him as he grows older). In this text the ‘poor’ are those afflicted by ‘circumstances’, enemies, abuse… they are, in the eyes of others, beggars. God helps those in genuine need and whose lives have been battered for no reason of their own.

Others will see these changes brought about by God and will rejoice in His grace and mercy, and sin will be sent away. Those who take note and change their ways to avoid penalties and to gain God’s blessings will be “wise” and will “observe these things”, making sure they live as to the Lord. Only these will understand the lovingkindness of God, while others curse Him and their condition.

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Published on www.christiandoctrine.com

Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
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