Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Psalms 107-108

Psa 107.1-43 is the opening psalm of the fifth and last Book of Psalms corresponding to the Book of Deuteronomy in the Torah. It is a psalm of thanksgiving of those who Yehovah delivers from many troubles. There are four types of people delivered in this psalm. Those who went through the desert, those jailed and released, those who were sick and then recover, and those who travel and work on the sea. All four of these situations are described in this psalm.

Psa 107.1-3 is discussing how we should be grateful to Yehovah for our redemption from the hand of our enemies. We should give thanks to Yehovah because he is good and his mercy endures forever, not jus to one generation (v1). The redeemd of Yehovah should recite verse 1 when he has been redeemed from the hand of the adversary or tormentor (v 2) or gathered from the lands they were scattered, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the sea, and south deleted because most of the exiles went north (v 3).

Psa 107.4-9 speaks about the category of those who should praise God, those who wandered in the wilderness in a path of desolation (solitary way). They did not find a way in the wilderness, meaning to an oasis (v 4). They were hungry and thirsty, their soul (strength) fainted within them (v 5). Then they cried to Yehovah in their trouble and he delivered them quickly out of their distresses of hunger and thirst (v 6). He led them by a straight way to go to an inhabited city or an oasis (v 7). They should give thanks to Yehovah for his mercy and for his wonders to the sons of men when they arrive safely (v 8). He satisfied their thirsty soul at the oasis or city, but not necessarily the “haven of his desire” or the place they were intending to go (see v 30), but he has filled them with what is good (v 9).

Psa 107 10-16 talk about deliverance for the prisoners, another category of those who should thank God. We have those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death (a deep dungeon), prisoners in misery and chains (v 10). Some rebelled against the words of God and spurned the counsel pf the Most High. They defied God’s universal rules of human conduct (v 11). He humbled their heart with labor and they stumbled and there was no one to help (v 12). Then they cried out to Yehovah in their trouble and he saved them out of their distresses (v 13). He brought them out of the darkness of the dungeons and the shadow of death, and broke their bands and chains apart (v 14). Let the liberated captive give thanks to Yehovah for his mercy by publicly attributing his freedom to the Lord, and for his wonders and miracles to the sons of men (v 15). He has shattered the gates of bronze, which was the heaviest metal gate guarding the dungeon, and cut the bars of iron on the gate that reinforced it (v 16).

Psa 107.17-22 begins the description of another group who should praise and thank Yehovah for the deliverance, the sick. Fools, because of their rebellious way and lack of understanding that their sins were going to carry their own punishment, are afflicted and subject to many burdens of punishment (v 17). Their soul abhorred all kinds of food and had no appetite, and they drew near to the gates of death (v 18). Then they cried out to Yehovah because they had no hope in their trouble and he saved them out of their distress, like Hezekiah in Isa 38.17-21. Isaiah showed him where his sin was, and likewise we must realize that our ways plague us, too. We can be delivered by sincere prayer and repentance (v 19). He sent his word and healed them. Here is a concept on healing. No cure is effective on its own, the Lord must speak and decree the healing himself. They were delivered from their destructions (v 20). Let the sick person who has recovered give thanks to Yehovah for his mercy and for his wonders (miracles) to mankind (v 21). They should also offer sacrifices (“zivchai”) of thanksgiving (“todah”) and tell of his works with joyful singing. The recovered person does not keep his gratitude to himself (v 22).

Psa 107.23-32 tells us about another category of endangered people who should praise God, those who are seafarers. In the book “Tehillim” by Mesorah Publications, p.1311, it has an interesting concept and it says, “The Talmud (Rosh Ha Shanah 17) notes the strange punctuation sign which precedes this verse and appears seven times in this psalm. It is called a reversed nun, or a backward nun, and it is a sign of exclusion or dimunition, i.e., not all who cry out in peril will be answered, some will be excluded. Once the heavenly decree is issued and sealed it will not be changed. Only the man who cries out before it is sealed will be delivered (see Minchas Shai).”

Those who go down to the sea in ships and do business (Hebrew “melakah” or work-Exo 20.9-10) on great waters (v 23) see the works of Yehovah. David never saw this because he was always on land. God’s wonders of the deep are seen by the seamen as they stand on deck and they realize they are surrounded by waves and dangerous creatures (v 24). God spoke and he commands the elements and raises up a wind that only God can calm. The waves of the sea are lifted (v 25). The waves rise up to the heavens (very high) and they went down, rolling and storm tossed to the depths. They can raise and lower ships. The soul of the sailors melted away in misery because they were filled with fear and terror (v 26). They reeled and staggered like a drunken man because they lost their balance and were at their wits end. All their naval knowledge was exhausted to save the ship (v 27). Then they cried to Yehovah in their trouble and he brought them out of their distresses and removed them from the waters that were enveloping them (v 28). He caused the storm to be still so that the waves of the sea were hushed and the surface became smooth again (v 29). At that point they were glad because the sea was quiet. God guided them to their desired haven or port (v 30).

These seamen should give thanks to Yehovah for his mercy and for his wonders to the sons of men (mankind). These four groups would offer a blessing similar to this, “Blessed are you, O Yehovah, king of the universe, who performs acts of kindness and mercy even for those who are already indebted to you for past mercies, who has granted me all the best” (v 31).

Psa 107.33-38 shows how Yehovah can change natural phenomena at will. He changes rivers into a wilderness and springs of water into thirsty ground in a Hebrew parallelism (v 33), a fruitful land into salt waste (like Sodom and the Jordan Valley), because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it (v 34). He changes a wilderness into a pool of water, and a dry land into springs of water (v 35). He makes the hungry to dwell, building a civilization, so that they may establish an inhabited city (v 36). They sow fields and they plant vineyards and gather a fruitful harvest (v 37). He also blesses them and they multiply greatly; he does not let their cattle decrease. These are the blessings of Yehovah that man should recognize and bless him for (v 38).

Psa 107.39-43 talks about how God can raise the destitute and bring down the princes of this world. When they are diminished and bowed down by oppression, misery and sorrow (v 39) he pours contempt upon the rulers and makes them wander in a pathless waste. God can turn their honor and glory into disgrace (v 40). He sets the needy and the poor securely on high, away from affliction, and makes families like a flock that has increased (v 41). The upright in heart shall see it and be glad; but all unrighteousness shuts its mouth when God’s judgments bring down the iniquitous rich. Money isn’t going to save them or bring on long lasting success (v 42). Who is wise? Let him give heed and take note of these things, and consider the mercy (and keep it in mind) of Yehovah (v 43).

Psa 108.1-13 is a psalm of David and it is almost the same as previous psalms. The heading simply reads, “A Song, a Psalm of David” (Shir mizmor l’David). Psa 108.2-6 is very close to Psa 57.8-12, and Psa 108.7-14 is close to Psa 60.7-14. The earlier psalms apply to David’s problems with Saul or david’s conquest of Aram. This psalm deals with a current issue with Moab, Edom and the Philistines. This psalm does show us that we can use Scripture as our prayer and praise as it applies to our current situation, as David does.

Psa 108.1-6 declares God’s praise in his soul, and then it expands to a larger audience. David’s heart is steadfast (ready) and he will sing praises with his soul. In Hebrew, the word for “soul” is “Kivod” meaning glory, referring to the glory of man (v 1). Awake, harp and lyre, for the purpose of praise, and David will “awaken the dawn” meaning he will “greet the dawn” (v 2). He will give thanks to Yehovah among the peoples (especially in the Messianic Kingdom-Isa 66); and he will sing praises to Yehovah among the nations (v 3). God’s mercy is great above the heavens and can’t be measured, and his truth reaches to the skies (v 4). God is exalted above the heavens and his glory above all the earth (v 5) “that thy beloved (Israel) may be delivered, save with thy right hand (power and a term for Messiah) and answer me” David says (v 6).

Psa 108.7-9 speaks of God’s sovereignty over Israel and the nations. God has spoken in his holiness and we can trust his kedusha: “I will exult, I will portion out Shechem, and measure out the Valley of Sukkot” (because he is sovereign and will divide and measure as he sees fit-v 7). He says that “Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine (on the east side of the Jordan); Ephraim also is the helmet (protection, it was a large tribe) of my head; Judah is my scepter (lawgiver-the tribe the king will come from-v 8).” He goes on to say that “Moab is my washbow (treated with contempt like filthy water); over Edom I shall throw my shoe (take possession of-Ruth 4.7; Deut 25.9-10); over Philistia I will shout aloud (let out a blood-curdling scream to frighten them).” Yehovah not only has authority over Israel, he rules over all the nations, too (v 9).

Psa 108.10-13 teaches us to trust Yehovah for our help. David says, “Who will bring me into the besieged city (David’s prayer before a battle); who will lead me to Edom (may be a reference to Petra).” The answer is, God will (v 10). He then says, “Has not you yourself, O God, rejected us? And you will not go forth with our armies, O God?” David had some recent defeats in mind here-v 11). He then wants the Lord to give him help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is vain. Success does not depend on armies or brilliant tactics, it is all in God’s hands. That is not to say David did not train his army or equip them for battle, and that we should not train for our spiritual battles, but the outcome is in the hands of the Lord (v 12). Through the Lord David will do valiantly and David’s simple formula was this. Without the Lord they could do nothing, but with the Lord they could win, and it is the Lord who will tread down our adversaries (v 13).

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Tying into the New Testament

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