Psalms 107:1 ¶ O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
This psalm opens by calling for God’s people to thank Him for His goodness and never-ending mercy. When God exercises mercy, He is showing kindness and pity; it is a characteristic of restraint that often withholds the judgment we deserve in a given situation. The psalmist will proceed to describe several situations that demonstrate how God demonstrates His goodness and mercy to His people who are in need.
Spurgeon: “Our sin required that goodness should display itself to us in the form of mercy, and it has done so, and will do so evermore; let us not be slack in praising the goodness which thus adapts itself to our fallen nature.”
Psalms 107:2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;
Psalms 107:3 And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.
Psalms 107:4 They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.
Psalms 107:5 Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.
Psalms 107:6 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
Psalms 107:7 And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
The first example addresses those that have been rescued from their enemy. They were coming home from lands far and wide but got lost and experienced hardship along the way. They became hungry and thirsty and extremely weak in their wanderings. When they cried out to the LORD, He was faithful to deliver them and lead them to a place where they could begin to rebuild their lives. This could apply to the people of Israel returning home from captivity in Babylon or even those from the Northern Kingdom who eventually tried to make their way back home from Assyrian captivity I would think.
I think it is important to note that the LORD’s deliverance was provided in response to their prayer for His intervention. One needs to humble himself in prayer before the LORD if we expect Him to intervene on our behalf.
Spurgeon: “Not till they were in extremities did they pray, but the mercy is that they prayed then, and prayed in the right manner, with a cry, and to the right person, even to the Lord….If hunger brings us to our knees it is more useful to us than feasting; if thirst drives us to the fountain it is better than the deepest draughts of worldly joys; and if fainting leads to crying it is better than the strength of the mighty….”
Psalms 107:8 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
Psalms 107:9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
Verse 8 is a refrain that is repeated four times in this psalm. Each time, it is an expression of gratitude for God’s provision in the time of need addressed in the previous verses. The focus this time is on God’s sustaining power and provision for the hunger of both body and soul. “Wonderful works” is a reference to the fact that sometimes God uses miracles in providing for those in need. His provision always satisfies and fills us; it never leaves us in need of more.
Psalms 107:10 ¶ Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron;
Psalms 107:11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High:
Psalms 107:12 Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.
Psalms 107:13 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.
Psalms 107:14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.
In this section of verses, the psalmist describes those who are suffering in captivity or prison. They had rebelled against God’s commandments and fallen under His mighty hand of judgment. They had no hope of deliverance unless God intervened on their behalf. When they cried out to the LORD in prayer, He rescued them from the bonds of their suffering. He delivered them from darkness and the fear of death into a place of light and hope.
“most High” (v11) - There is no greater authority than God, YHWH (LORD), the self-existent, eternal God.
Psalms 107:15 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
Psalms 107:16 For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.
The psalmist repeats his refrain calling for men to praise the LORD for His goodness and miraculous intervention to provide for the needs of men. Though he includes all men, I am sure he was thinking primarily about the people of Israel. There are no gates, bars or chains that God cannot break. There are no physical or mental afflictions that God cannot heal.
Psalms 107:17 ¶ Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.
Psalms 107:18 Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.
Psalms 107:19 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.
Psalms 107:20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
In these verses, the psalmist makes reference to those who are suffering as a consequence of their own bad choices. Sin has consequences (e.g., drug addiction, abuse of alcohol, sexual promiscuity, abortion, etc.). This often results in such depression that they lose their appetite—sometimes to the point of death. Finally, they called out to the LORD. He responded by sending His word to heal them, delivering them from death.
Psalms 107:21 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
Psalms 107:22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.
Once again the psalmist urges men to praise the LORD for His goodness and deliverance. This time he urges them to offer the sacrifices of thanksgiving and tell others about His works as they rejoice.
Though the psalmist is probably thinking about the fellowship offerings that the people of Israel brought when they wanted to express thanks to God, it is also true that God considers our praise of Him to be a sacrifice.
Hebrews 13:15 “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”
Though hard to imagine in light of billions of people on planet earth, God is well aware when we declare our praise and gratitude to Him in fellowship with others. In fact, He keeps a record of it.
Malachi 3:16 “Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.”
Psalms 107:23 ¶ They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
Psalms 107:24 These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
Psalms 107:25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
Psalms 107:26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
Psalms 107:27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.
Psalms 107:28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
Psalms 107:29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
Psalms 107:30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
In this section of verses the psalmist makes reference to those that make a living sailing the seas. They are privileged to see the great wonders of God’s creation that few people of his time ever saw. They are witness to the raw, awesome power of wind and water when they hit stormy waters. He acknowledges that God is in control of His creation and can command the wind and waves at will. There comes a point when the waves get very high and choppy that their vessel is tossed about like a toy boat; they have no control. When they get to the point of desperation, they cry out to the LORD and He rescues them. They know that only He can calm the storm and the waves.
Psalms 89:8–9 “O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee? Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.”
They are finally able to reach their destination after God quiets the waters.
Spurgeon on verse 26: “Those who have been on the spiritual deep in one of the great storms which occasionally agitate the soul know what this verse means. In these spiritual cyclones presumption alternates with despair, indifference with agony! No heart is left for anything, courage is gone, hope is almost dead. Such an experience is as real as the tossing of a literal tempest and far more painful.”
On a personal note, how privileged we are today to be able to witness the wonders of God’s creation in the deep seas. We can not only witness such wonders through various media platforms, we can also visit aquariums that allow us to see these creatures up close and personal. I love to go to zoos and aquariums!! If God put such thought and creativity in making the wonders of the deep that so few have been able to appreciate, relatively speaking, I can’t imagine what awaits us in eternity.
Psalms 107:31 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
Psalms 107:32 Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
Yet again, the psalmist urges men to praise the LORD for His goodness and wonderful works on their behalf. He notes that we should do so publicly before our peers and our leaders—especially when we gather to worship.
Psalms 107:33 ¶ He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground;
Psalms 107:34 A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.
Psalms 107:35 He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings.
Psalms 107:36 And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation;
Psalms 107:37 And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase.
Psalms 107:38 He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.
Psalms 107:39 Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.
In this section of verses, the psalmist makes note some of the ways God uses nature both to judge and to bless us. He dries up rivers and natural water sources and causes famine in judgment of wickedness and sin. On the other hand, He can bless by causing water sources to provide in abundance to give men the ability to plant crops that yield abundantly. He is the one that gifts them with large families and healthy livestock. When these numbers start to decrease, it is often because they become lax in their fellowship with and obedience to God. Their losses cause them to experience oppression, affliction and sorrow.
The psalmist referenced the things most valued in his day. Society and culture have greatly changed in this day and age. Point being that wealth is viewed differently. Application is to the loss or increase of wealth and how it affects a person.
Psalms 107:40 He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.
Psalms 107:41 Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.
These verses seem to be a statement regarding societal class distinctions. The LORD is apt to bring shame upon the nobility, while blessing those who are poor. The implication is that the difference is based on their actions in reference to acknowledging God as LORD.
Psalms 107:42 The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.
Psalms 107:43 Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.
The psalmist observes that the righteous rejoice when they see God’s actions, both in judgment and in blessing. The wicked, however, are left speechless. Those who are wise will understand that all God’s actions are a result of His lovingkindness. His judgment of the wicked and rebellious is meant to bring the sinner to his knees in faith and repentance. His blessings are a gift to those who choose to follow Him in faith and obedience.