Thanksgiving for Deliverance from Various Troubles.
V. 1. O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, He reveals His gracious providence to All men in the various emergencies which come upon them; for His mercy endureth forever, His unmerited favor and kindness upon men lasts throughout eternity. V. 2. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, the returned exiles, whom He hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy, from the power of oppression and misery, v. 3. and gathered them out of the lands, whither they had been led away captive, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, literally, “from the sea,” the reference being either to Egypt or to Arabia. V. 4. They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way, in loneliness and far from human habitations; they found no city to dwell in, where they would be received in a hospitable manner. V. 5. Hungry and thirsty, on account of the absence of both food and drink in the desert, their soul fainted in them, literally, “was muffled,” grew dim, was near to extinction. V. 6. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses, by a quick and complete deliverance. V. 7. And He led them forth by the right way, the true and proper road leading to deliverance, that they might go to a city of habitation, the reference being to Palestine, and specifically Jerusalem. V. 8. Oh, that men, that is, such as had the experiences here enumerated, would praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men, that is, proclaiming their own wonderful deliverance to others and thus to exalt the Lord. V. 9. For He satisfieth the longing soul, the soul languishing for deliverance, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. The application of this entire section to spiritual distress and religious persecution readily suggests itself, both the earnest crying for deliverance and the praise after deliverance being recommended.
The second paragraph treats of captives. V. 10. Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, in miserable captivity, such as that of King Manasseh, being bound in affiliation and iron, bound in pain and torture, especially by iron fetters of a shameful imprisonment, v. 11. because they rebelled against the words of God, proclaimed for their salvation, and contemned the counsel of the Most High, their rejection of God’s gracious purposes in their behalf, combined with blasphemy, tending to frustrate His designs; v. 12. therefore He brought down their heart with labor, humiliating them by means of the distress which He laid upon them; they fell down, and there was none to help, it being the aim of God to bring them to a realization of their helplessness. V. 13. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, having finally gained understanding, and He saved them out of their distresses, delivered them out of their anxious situation. V. 14. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and brake their bands in sunder. V. 15. Oh, that men, that is, men having had such experiences, would praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men, v. 8. V. 16. For He hath broken the gates of brass, in setting free the captives, and cut the bars of iron in sunder, this summary being like Is. 45, 2. The application of these words to men of all times who have resisted the work of the Holy Ghost, but have been brought to repentance by the visitation of the Lord, is again obvious.
The next section treats of those who foolishly bring misery upon themselves by willful indulgence in sin. V. 17. Fools because of their transgression, men devoid of proper mentality, as they prove themselves to be by indulging in sins which invariably carry their own punishment with them, like immorality and intemperance, and because of their iniquities, are affiliated. A person yielding to every sensual and sensuous desire, setting aside all sanity and deliberately ruining his health and risking his reputation, will find himself subject to many burdens of punishment, even in this world. V. 18. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat, foods which they formerly delighted in now fill their souls with disgust and loathing; and they draw near unto the gates of death. V. 19. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, having been brought to the knowledge of their sin by the severity of the punishment which struck them, and He saveth them out of their distresses, delivering them out of the tight place into which their foolishness wedged them. V. 20. He sent His Word and healed them, the healing of the soul through the application of the Word being the chief step in the great Physician’s treatment, and delivered them from their destructions, permitting them to escape out of the pits which their own lack of sense had dug for them. V. 21. Oh, that men, such as have had experiences of this kind, would praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men! V. 8. V. 22. And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, in seeking most earnestly to be united with Jehovah in the fellowship of faith and love, and declare His works with rejoicing, proclaiming the fact of their deliverance from the misery into which their own fault had plunged them. This attitude is all the more necessary in the case of such people, since their shame is usually known in a community, and they are obliged to live down their past.
In the next section are set forth the perils of seafaring. V. 23. They that go down to the sea in ships, launching forth on the deep after descending from the general elevation of the land, that do business in great waters, the allusion being to merchants with an oversea trade; v. 24. these see the works of the Lord, their own eyes observing the manifestation of God’s mighty power on the ocean, and His wonders in the deep, since its limitless expanse fills the heart of man with awe in the presence of the greatness of God. V. 25. For He commandeth, as the Lord of the elements, and raiseth the stormy wind, literally, “makes the breath of the storm to stand,” like an enemy threatening destruction, which lifteth up the waves thereof, or “His waves,” those in His control. V. 26. They mount up to the heaven, their crests rising up like mountains, they go down again to the depths, in the deep troughs between the billows; their soul is melted because of trouble, that is, the hearts of the sailors are filled with dread. V. 27. They reel to and fro, as their frail craft is tossed about, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end, altogether helpless in the turmoil of the elements. V. 28. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He bringeth them out of their distresses, saving them in the emergency which threatened their ship and their lives. V. 29. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still, presenting a smooth and untroubled surface. V. 30. Then are they, the sailors, glad because they be quiet; so He bringeth them unto their desired haven, to the port for which they were headed. V. 3l. Oh, that men, after such experiences, would praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men! V. 32. Let them exalt Him also, in telling of the wonderful deliverance they experienced, in the congregation of the people, in public assembly, in the place of worship, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders, in the open market-place, where the public meetings of the people were held. That this admonition applies to Christian sailors of all times is evident.
A further section describes the life of the tillers of the soil when they are deprived of the needed moisture in their fields, as well as when they receive an abundance of rain. V. 33. He turneth rivers into a wilderness, the earth’s productiveness being changed to sterility by His withholding the sources of fertility, and the water-springs into dry ground; v. 34. a fruitful land into barrenness, into alkali deserts, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein, punishing the inhabitants for their sins. There are many examples of this fact in many parts of the world. On the other hand, the Lord sends bountiful blessings upon men. V. 35. He turneth the wilderness, the bare and apparently Unfruitful desert, into a standing water, so that pools of water will be found there, and dry ground into water-springs. V. 36. And there He maketh the hungry to dwell, giving them dwellings, homes, in the former wilderness, that they may prepare a city for habitation, since the country proved rich enough to sustain a large population, v. 37. and sow the fields and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase, the husbandman getting rich returns for his labors. V. 38. He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly, all the conditions surrounding them being favorable to such an increase; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease. Such are the blessings of the Lord which should be acknowledged by men with due thanks, both in proclaiming His goodness and in serving Him according to His will.
The final paragraph refers to such as are suffering under misrule and tyranny. V. 39. Again, they are minished, their prosperity being reduced by adverse circumstances, and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow, brought upon them on account of the jealousy of those in power. V. 40. He poureth contempt upon princes and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way, in pitiful exile. V. 41. Yet setteth He the poor on high from affliction, far from the reach of suffering, and maketh him families like a flock, this feature occurring time and again as an outstanding characteristic of God’s blessing. V. 42. The righteous, those who are upright in heart, shall see it and rejoice; and, on the other hand, all iniquity shall stop her mouth, the arrogant for once being obliged to maintain silence at this evidence of God’s favor. V. 43. Whoso is wise and will observe these things, he who will take note of these facts, profit by the example of others, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord, they will keep His merciful dealings in mind always. It is a lesson which cannot be learned too well or repeated too often, a lesson which all true Christians hold before their eyes every day, lest they forget their debt to the Lord and become lax in His service.