Exhortation to thanksgiving is the first note of this
Psalm. Various motives follow. Man is exhibited in diverse straits and
difficulties, and God appears in the plenitude of His grace.
1. "O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His
mercy endures forever."
Calls to thanksgiving cannot be too frequently renewed.
Overflowing streams of mercy follow the redeemed during all their days. Each
instance has a voice loudly crying, Give thanks, give praise. Let our
heartstrings be strained to the utmost to lift up adoration.
2-3. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has
redeemed from the hand of the enemy; and gathered them out of the lands,
from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south."
Surely this will be the constant note of all who realize
redemption. They once were in bondage to the power of darkness, but are
rescued by the mighty arm of Jesus. The Savior has shattered the scepter of
their arch-enemy. He has opened their prison-doors, and has translated them
into the kingdom of their God. Loud should be their present song. Soon shall
they be gathered safely to their eternal home; and the great multitude,
which no man can number, of all nations and kindreds, and peoples, and
tongues shall upraise the universal Hallelujah!
4-9. "They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary
way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted
in them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them
out of their distresses. And He led them forth by the right way, that they
might go to a city of habitation. Oh that men would praise the Lord for His
goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He
satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."
This is a graphic description of wanderers and exiles. In
it we see the children of Israel in their tedious journeyings; but it
especially portrays the outcast condition in which the redeemed often mourn.
Their souls are tossed on restless billows. They wander and stray. They long
for repose, but they find it not. They are exposed to every peril. They
require support, and know not how to obtain it. At last they turn to God,
and direct their cries to Him. He speedily arises, and their difficulties
vanish. Oh that the saints would feel that He is guiding them aright, and
that soon their end will be welcome admission to the heaven of heavens! A
new chorus follows; Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and
for His wonderful works to the children of men. All desires are satisfied.
Goodness meets all cravings. God's wonder-working hand has strewn blessings
10-16. "Such as sit in darkness, and in the shadow of
death, being bound in affliction and iron; because they rebelled against the
words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High; Therefore He
brought down their heart with labor; they fell down, and there were none to
help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of
their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and broke their bands in sunder. Oh that men would praise the Lord for His
goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He has
broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder."
Forgetful of all God's goodness, His people are prone to
scorn His counsels, and to rebel against His gracious authority. The sure
consequence is due chastisement. The rejection of His easy yoke leads to the
darkness of the prison-house, and to the shackles of the iron chains. But
still there is hope. God lives, mighty to deliver; to Him they cry, and
deliverance comes on speedy wings. Let the chorus sound again; Oh that men
would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the
children of men. His people rejoice in liberty; the prison-gates are burst
asunder; the bars of iron are shattered.
17-22. "Fools, because of their transgression, and
because of their iniquities, are afflicted; their soul abhors all manner of
food; and they draw near to the gates of death. Then they cry to the Lord in
their trouble, and He saves them out of their distresses. He sent His word,
and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Oh that men
would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the
children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and
declare His works with rejoicing."
Senseless men will rush into transgression. Many
afflictions follow. The wasted body rejects all nourishment. At last prayer
revives, and prayer is a prevailing power. God's word, which commanded
sickness, commands the return of health. Again the chorus sounds—again
thanksgivings multiply; Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness,
and for His wonderful works to the children of men. And let them sacrifice
the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing. Let
His altar be laden with utterances of adoring love. Thus let merited misery
vanish in incense of pious joy.
23-27. "Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do
business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders
in the deep. For He commands, and raises the stormy wind, which lifts its
waves. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths; their
soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a
drunken man, and are at their wit's end."
One of nature's most astounding scenes here meets us. The
sea is lashed into terrific fury. The staggering mariners are bewildered.
Where did this terror come from? What is the cause of this dismay? The Lord
sent forth His voice. The obedient billows reflect His will. They raise
gigantic heads; they threaten to invade the highest heights of heaven. Again
they descend, as if to search the lowest depths, and to penetrate into its
deepest caverns. The affrighted mariners no longer can retain firm step.
They tremble with the trembling ship, and no resources give relief.
28-32. "Then they cry to the Lord in their trouble,
and He brings them out of their distresses. He makes the storm a calm, so
that its waves are still. Then are they glad because they are quiet; so He
brings them to their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the Lord for
His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them
exalt Him also in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the
assembly of the elders."
God sits above the tempest's rage. To Him in their terror
the shipmen cry. He never turns from prayer. He hears, and lulls the storm.
Behold His mighty power! His will softens the raging lion into the gentle
lamb. We are reminded of our Jesus in the storm on the Sea of Galilee. He
rebuked the winds and waves, and perfect calm ensued. The rejoicing mariners
see God's wondrous hand, and reach in safety the haven which they sought. A
sea of perils often threatens to engulf believers. But let them pray and
trust. Their souls need fear no shipwreck. The glad chorus again sounds
rapturously; Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His
wonderful works to the children of men! Let them exalt Him also in the
congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of elders. Let
them praise Him in the secret of their chambers; let them praise Him when
His assembled people celebrate holy worship.
33-41. "He turns rivers into a wilderness, and the
water-springs into dry ground; a fruitful land into barrenness, for the
wickedness of those who dwell there. He turns the wilderness into a standing
water, and dry ground into water-springs. And there He makes the hungry to
dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; and sow the fields, and
plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase. He blesses them also,
so that they are multiplied greatly, and does not allow their cattle to
decrease. Again, they are diminished, and brought low through oppression,
affliction, and sorrow. He pours contempt upon princes, and causes them to
wander in the wilderness, where there is no way. Yet sets He the poor on
high from affliction, and makes his families like a flock."
The earth sees vicissitudes of fertility and famine. The
waters of the rivers cease. The verdant fields become a barren waste. Again
the wilderness is fertilized by springs. The fields receive the seed. The
grapes hang in clusters. The mightiest princes are brought low. The poor and
needy are crowned with plenty. These wonders are wrought by God's hand. All
things obey His word. They are recorded for our admonition.
42-43. "The righteous shall see it, and rejoice; and
all iniquity shall stop her mouth. Whoever is wise, and will observe these
things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord."
God's people ponder these wondrous works. With joy and
gladness they recognize His hand; while the wicked must hang down their
heads in silence. Let God's dealings be our constant study. They give
marvelous instruction. The crowning lesson is, that God is loving, faithful,