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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Psalms 107

 

 

Verses 1-3

DISCOURSE: 681

PRAISE TO GOD FOR REDEMPTION

Psalms 107:1-3. O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath 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.

THE intent of this psalm appears to be, not merely to display the providence of God as interposing in all the concerns of men, but especially the goodness of God in vouchsafing to hear the prayers of men, and to grant them deliverance in answer to their supplications. This is illustrated under a variety of interesting images. His interpositions are described in behalf of travellers lost, but conducted home in safety; of prisoners rescued from merited captivity; of persons sick and dying, restored to health; of mariners preserved, and brought to their desired haven. But we must not confine our attention to temporal deliverances only; for it is manifest in the very commencement of the psalm that respect is had to the goodness and mercy of God in their most extended operations, and especially in the great work of redemption: for it is “from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south,” that he has already gathered his redeemed people [Note: Matthew 8:11.], and that he will yet gather them into the kingdom of his Messiah [Note: Isaiah 43:5-6; Isaiah 56:8.], even “Shiloh, unto whom shall the gathering of the people be [Note: Genesis 49:10.].” In considering the different images, we might notice both the temporal and spiritual deliverances which they severally refer to: but at present we shall wave all reference to them, and notice only the great work of redemption, as set forth in the words before us; wherein we see,

I. The duty of all to give thanks to God—

Consider,

1. The grounds of it—

[Wherever we turn our eyes, we cannot but see that “the Lord is good.” Survey the heavenly bodies, and contemplate the benefits derived from them: view the earth with its innumerable productions for the good of man: examine your corporeal frame, and think how every part performs its office for the benefit of the whole: above all, reflect on the powers and faculties of our immortal souls, and mark how by them we are elevated above all the rest of the creation, and fitted for an infinitely higher state of existence in the presence of our God: and then say whether we have not reason to proclaim the goodness of our God — — —

But the “mercy” of our God is yet, if possible, a more stupendous object of admiration; because goodness manifested itself to us in innocence; whereas mercy is exercised towards us under an inconceivable load of guilt. Think how it was displayed to man at first, in promising him a Saviour: think how it wrought in due time, in sending that Saviour into the world, even the eternal Son of God, and in laying all our iniquities on him. Think how it has shewn itself to every individual amongst us, in bearing with all our iniquities, and in following us with offers of a free and full salvation. Think how it has lasted towards the children of men, and how it shall last towards all who embrace its gracious offers. Surely if our minds were affected as they ought to be with this wonderful subject, we should never cease to praise and adore our God — — —]

2. The duty itself—

[“O give thanks unto the Lord” for these things, all of you, old and young, rich and poor, one with another! If there be one amongst us that has not participated in these benefits, we will be content that he shall be silent: but the very circumstance that we are still on mercy’s ground is abundant evidence that we have reason to join in one universal song of praise and thanksgiving. Think of the fallen angels, who never had a Saviour provided for them: think of the millions of the human race who never heard of the Saviour that has been provided for them, or that, having heard of him, have been left to perish in a neglect of his salvation: think of these things, and then, if you can, deny your obligations to the goodness and mercy of your God — — —]

But let us more especially consider,

II. The peculiar obligations of the redeemed to do so—

“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so:” yes, if ye “whom he has delivered out of the hand of the enemy, and gathered to himself,” are silent, “the very stones will cry out against you.” Think,

1. From whence you have been gathered—

[The remotest ends of the earth are not so far from each other, as ye were from God — — — and in this state ye were led captive by the devil at his will — — —]

2. By what means ye were redeemed—

[It was by the precious blood of God’s only dear Son [Note: Ephesians 2:13.] — — — It was also by the effectual working of his power: for he, as a good Shepherd, sought you out, and apprehended you, and brought you home on his shoulders rejoicing [Note: Ezekiel 34:12. Luke 15:5.] — — —]

3. To what ye are brought—

[As the Lord’s redeemed people, ye are brought into a state of peace with God: ye have the privilege of constant communion with him: ye may expect at his hands every blessing which your souls can desire: and ye shall finally posses all the glory and felicity of heaven.

Think now what, in the view of these things, should be the state of your minds. If those who have never yet experienced one of these benefits, have yet abundant reason to celebrate the goodness and mercy of their God, have not ye much more? O “let the redeemed of the Lord say so:” let them sing his praises day and night: let them adore him with their whole hearts — — —]

Address—

1. Those who are yet insensible of God’s goodness—

[Alas! how great a portion of every assembly are comprehended under this description! — — — Well, know ye then that we require no other proof of your perishing condition. Tell us not from what sins ye are free: we will grant all that ye are pleased to say: but we declare you to be blind, ignorant, base, ungrateful creatures: ye have no hearts to adore your God; and therefore if ye die in your present state, ye can never enter into the kingdom of heaven, where the one employment of the blest inhabitants is to sing the praises of redeeming love. If ever ye be truly converted unto God, this new song will be put into your mouths, and be sung by you day and night [Note: Psalms 40:1-3. with Jeremiah 33:11.] — — —]

2. Those who love the blessed work—

[Some there are, and may God increase their number an hundredfold! who delight to bless and praise their God — — — Go on then, dearly Beloved, and abound more and more. Though your songs are as yet but faint, they are truly pleasing in the ears of your reconciled God and Father. This song in particular is grateful to him. Mark what notice he took of it when sung by Solomon [Note: 2 Chronicles 5:13.] — — — So will he come down and fill your souls with his glory — — — Mark also what honour he put upon it when sung by Jehoshaphat [Note: 2 Chronicles 20:21-22.] — — — So will he defeat all the confederacies, whether of earth or hell, that may be formed against you — — — Sing on then with increasing gratitude, even to the end; and soon shall the golden harp be put into your hands, and you shall join with that heavenly choir in that more perfect song in which they all unite, even in singing. “Salvation to God and to the Lamb for ever and ever.”]


Verse 8-9

DISCOURSE: 682

THE DUTY AND GROUNDS OF PRAISE

Psalms 107:8-9. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! for he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

AMONG the various graces which characterize the true Christian, that of gratitude to God is very conspicuous. Others indeed will confess their obligations to the Supreme Being; but none are duly sensible of them, till they have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. When once we have “tasted that the Lord is gracious,” and been impressed with a sense of redeeming love, we shall view the goodness of God in all his dispensations; and, not only glorify him ourselves, but earnestly desire that all should render him the honour due unto his name. This disposition was eminently displayed in David, when he penned the Psalm before us. No less than four times does he repeat the fervent wish, that men would praise the Lord: and at each time does he suggest the most ample grounds for the performance of that duty.

From his words we shall take occasion to consider,

I. The duty here recommended—

Wherever a superior being is acknowledged, there a tribute of prayer and praise is considered as due to him. The light of revelation confirms this general sentiment; and expressly inculcates thanksgiving to God as an universal duty. The manner in which the Psalmist urges us to praise our heavenly Benefactor, deserves peculiar attention: it speaks more forcibly than the strongest injunction could have done; and intimates that praise is,

1. An indispensable duty—

[Praise is the external expression, whereby a soul, filled with admiration and gratitude, gives vent to its feelings towards its heavenly Benefactor. It is an exercise of which the glorified saints and angels are never weary [Note: Revelation 4:8-9.]; and in which we enjoy a foretaste of heaven itself [Note: 1 Peter 1:8. χαρᾷ δεδοξασμένῃ.] — — — Words can scarcely convey a more sublime idea of this employment, than those by which David describes its effects upon the soul [Note: Psalms 63:5.] — — — In this view he strongly recommends it to us, and we may also recommend it to each other, as “good, pleasant, and comely [Note: Psalms 147:1.].” It is a duty which we owe to God. There is not any precept in the Bible more plain than those which relate to this subject [Note: 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Ephesians 5:20.] — — — There is not any duty, the neglect of which is represented in a more heinous light [Note: It is the strongest mark of an ungodly state, Romans 1:21; and a certain ground of eternal condemnation, Deuteronomy 28:45; Deuteronomy 28:47.] — — — On the other hand, there is not any religious act of which more honourable mention is made than this [Note: It glorifies God, Psalms 50:23.] — — — Not any to which, if accompanied by a suitable deportment, more exalted privileges are annexed [Note: Psalms 50:23.] — — — Hence it is, that thirteen times in the space of six short verses, David renews his exhortations to every living creature to praise the Lord [Note: Psalms 150.].]

2. A much neglected duty—

[Whatever blessings men enjoy, they rest in the gift, and forget the Giver. In fact, we scarcely know the value of our blessings till we are bereaved of them. The generality of men, instead of acknowledging with gratitude God’s kindness towards them, and requiting him according to the benefits he has vouchsafed to them, take occasion from his mercies to sin the more against him — — — Not even the godly themselves abound in this holy employment as we might expect. Many, alas! live at so great a distance from God, that they can scarcely ever rise above a petition for mercy, or, at most, a sense of thankfulness that he has not utterly cast them off. They cannot soar to a contemplation of the divine perfections, or of the excellency of Christ, or of the blessedness of those mansions that are prepared for them. They have so much of the world in their hearts, and so little faith, that they cannot realize their principles, or glorify God in any measure as they ought. Instead of cultivating the devout spirit of David [Note: Psalms 63:3-4; Psalms 119:164.], they rest satisfied in a lukewarm state, saying, “It is high; I cannot attain unto it [Note: Psalms 139:6.].” Yes; though there are some who delight themselves in God; yet, in reference to the greater part even of real Christians we must say with sorrow and regret, “O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and according to his excellent greatness [Note: Psalms 150:2.]!”]

To stir up ourselves to a due performance of this duty, let us consider,

II. The grounds proposed for the performance of it—

There is nothing that may not in some view or other be made a ground of praise and thanksgiving. In the text we are led to notice,

1. Those which are general—

[The goodness of God, as manifested in the wonderful dispensations of his providence, is that which first offers itself to our consideration. How bountifully does he supply the returning wants of his creatures even while they are continuing in rebellion against him! How marvellously has he preserved us in life from our earliest infancy to this day; and kept in tune, as it were, in the midst of continual shocks and dangers, an instrument of ten thousand strings! With what kindness has he restrained the evil dispositions of men, which, if suffered to rage without control, would produce a very hell upon earth [Note: In proof of this we need only look back to the slaughters and massacres, the rapes and ravages, and all the other horrors of the French Revolution.]! As for the godly, they would soon be extirpated from the face of the earth, if the sons of Belial were permitted to execute all that is in their hearts. And who amongst us would not have perpetrated many more evils than he has, if God had not imposed an invisible restraint upon him, and diverted him from his purpose [Note: See the instances of Abimelech, Genesis 20:6; of Laban, Genesis 31:24; of David, 1 Samuel 25:32-34.]?

But on this occasion [Note: The peace in October, 1801. In lieu of this, any particular mercies, which the season suggests, may be specified.] we must particularly call to mind the wonders God has wrought for us, in preserving us from domestic tumults and foreign invasions; and in making us victorious, when our allies have been all subdued, or have even combined against us with the common enemy for our destruction. In a more especial manner should we admire the goodness of God in so suddenly disposing the hearts of our enemies to peace, and in bringing the calamities both of war and scarcity to a happy termination.

The riches of his grace are also deserving of the deepest attention. Surely it is not possible to overlook the wonderful work of redemption which God has wrought for sinful man. What shall I say of the gift of his only-begotten Son to die for us? — — — What of the gift of his Holy Spirit to instruct and sanctify us? — — — What of all the promises of grace and mercy and peace to the believing soul? — — — And what of that eternal inheritance he has prepared for us in heaven? Truly he dealt not so with the fallen angels: but to “the children of men” he has communicated richer blessings than words can declare, or that any finite imagination can conceive. And should we not praise him for these? If we are silent on subjects like these, verily our mouths will be shut in the day that our ingratitude shall be punished by our indignant God.]

2. Those which are more particularly specified as vouchsafed to “the longing and hungry soul”—

[Under the image of a weary traveller rescued from the deepest distress, and brought beyond all expectation to the rest he had desired, the Psalmist represents a soul hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and raised from a state of despondency to the full enjoyment of its God. Thousands there are who are reduced to great perplexity in the pursuit of heaven. They feel their guilty and perishing condition; but how to extricate themselves from the wilderness of this world, and to find their way to the city of habitation, they know not. Having tried in vain those self-righteous methods of escape which their own reason has suggested, they cry at last to God, and implore his guidance. He, ever ready to hear the prayer of the poor destitute, “reveals his dear Son in their hearts:” he shews them that in Christ is their hope, in Christ is their refuge, in Christ is their security. Being thus led to Christ, their “longing souls are satisfied, their hungry souls are filled with goodness” — — — Who can conceive what satisfaction a soul feels, when Christ is thus revealed to it as “the way, the truth, and the life?” And I wish you particularly to notice how God marks with approbation not our attainments only, but our very desires. “Longing and hunger” are the very lowest operations and effects of grace in the soul: yet does God delight in them, and magnify his mercy towards those in whom even these slight beginnings of what is good are seen.

And is not this a ground of praise? If any who have experienced such mercies “should hold their peace,” methinks Sodom and Gomorrha will rise up in judgment against them. The more we contemplate redeeming love, the more will a sacred ardour glow within our bosoms to bless and praise the Lord [Note: ver. 43.].]

Address—

1. Those who never praise God at all—

[What enemies are such persons both to their present and future happiness! How much richer enjoyment would they now have of all God’s mercies, if they could discern his hand in them, and taste his love! And how much happier would they be in the eternal world! for, can it be supposed that God will bestow heaven indiscriminately on the evil and unthankful together with the good and thankful? Can it be thought that a man who was more insensible of favours than an ox or an ass [Note: Isaiah 1:3.], shall instantly on his dismission from the body begin to adore his God, and to join in those celestial anthems for which he had not the smallest taste? No: we must begin on earth the work we are to carry on in heaven: nor can we hope to participate the felicity of the saints, if we have not first cultivated their disposition, and found delight in their employment.]

2. Those who desire and endeavour to praise him—

[While some find their hearts enlarged in praising God, we trust there are many who say, O that I could praise the Lord for his goodness! But whence is it that, with a desire to enjoy God, so many spend their days in sighing and mourning instead of in joy and rejoicing? Perhaps they pore over their own corruptions without contemplating the divine attributes: they look at themselves more than at Christ: they consider their own wants; but overlook the Lord’s promises: they anticipate future difficulties, without adverting to past deliverances: in short, they cannot praise God as they would wish, because they are forgetful of those benefits which are the occasions and grounds of praise. Let all such persons then be aware of their error. Let them begin this day the important, the delightful, the long-neglected work. Let them unite in praising God for his mercies, whether public or personal, whether temporal or eternal.

To all would we say, in the energetic language of the Psalmist, “O sing praises unto the Lord, sing praises; sing praises unto the Lord, sing praises; sing ye praises with understanding [Note: Psalms 47:6-7.].” “Let young men and maidens, old men and children, praise the name of the Lord; for his name alone is excellent, his glory is above the earth and heavens [Note: Psalms 148:12-13.].”]


Verse 43

DISCOURSE: 683

GOD’S LOVE SEEN IN ALL HIS DISPENSATIONS

Psalms 107:43. Whoso is wise and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.

TO know God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, is the highest privilege and perfection of man. This attainment, infinitely beyond all others, constitutes true wisdom. But to acquire this knowledge, it is necessary that we study well, not the book of Revelation only, but the records also of God’s providential dealings with mankind. The Word and works of God mutually reflect light on each other; and the more extensive and accurate our observation is of those things which occur from day to day, the more just will be our apprehension of God’s nature and perfections. True indeed it is, that, as far as theory is concerned, we may learn every thing from the Scripture alone: for in the world and in the Church we can find only a repetition of those things which are recorded in the Sacred Volume: but a practical sense of God’s love is greatly furthered by the constant exhibition of it which may be seen in his dealings with us; so that we may well say with the Psalmist, “Whoso is wise and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.”

We propose to shew,

I. What those things are which are here presented to our notice—

To enter fully into them, we should distinctly consider the different representations which are here given of God’s merciful interposition in behalf of bewildered travellers, incarcerated prisoners, dying invalids, and mariners reduced to the lowest ebb of despondency. But instead of minutely prosecuting those different inquiries [Note: If this subject were used as a Thanksgiving after a Storm, or after a Recovery from Sickness, the particular circumstances should here be noticed, with an especial reference to that part of the psalm that is proper to the occasion.], we will draw your attention to the two principal points which pervade the whole; namely,

1. The timely succour which he affords to the distressed—

[The instances mentioned in the psalm are only a few out of the numberless interpositions which God vouchsafes to men in distress: but whatever be the trouble from which we are delivered, it is of infinite importance that we see the hand of God both in the trouble itself and in the deliverance from it. There is neither good nor evil in a city, but it must be traced to God as its author. Whether men or devils be the agents, it matters not; they can do nothing without a special licence from God himself: and hence, when men had plundered Job of all his possessions, and Satan had destroyed all his children, he equally ascribed the different events to God; “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.” Thus must we do: we must ascribe nothing to chance, and nothing to the creature, except as an instrument in the hands of God. If the folly or malignity of man injure us, or the wisdom or benevolence of man repair the injury, we must look through the second causes, and fix our eyes on God, as the first great Cause of all. If we see not God in the dispensations, of course we shall learn nothing of God from them: but if we behold his agency in them, then will our eyes be opened to see his wisdom and goodness also.]

2. His condescending attention to their prayers—

[In all the instances specified in this psalm, God’s interpositions are mentioned as answers to prayer: “They cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.” Many, alas! of the prayers which are offered in seasons of difficulty and distress have respect to nothing more than the particular occasion, and are accompanied with no real desire after God: yet even these prayers God often condescends to hear, just as he did the prayers in which Ahab deprecated the judgments denounced against him. But when the prayers proceed from a penitent and contrite heart, and are offered up in the prevailing name of Jesus Christ, God will hear them at all times and under all circumstances. We do not say that the precise thing which may be asked shall certainly be granted; because God may see that, on the whole, that would not prove a blessing to the person who asks it: but no prayer that is offered up in faith shall go forth in vain: it shall surely be answered, if not in the way expected or desired, at least in a way that shall ultimately prove most conducive to the good of him that offers it.]

These things being matters of daily occurrence, we shall proceed to mark,

II. The benefit arising from an attentive consideration of them—

From these we shall be led to notice, not merely the agency of God in all the concerns of man, but especially, and above all, his “loving-kindness” also. This will be seen,

1. In the darkest dispensations of his providence—

[God’s dearest children are not more exempt from trials than others: on the contrary, they are often most subjected to them. But in this the loving-kindness of God is especially manifest: for by their trials he leads them to more fervent prayer; that prayer brings to them more signal interpositions; and those interpositions fill them with joy, far overbalancing all the troubles they have endured. Let any child of God look back to his former life, and say, whether the events which once he regarded as the heaviest calamities, have not been overruled for his greatest good? Yes: it is not David only, but every child of God, that must say, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted.” We may indeed, like Jacob, say for a time, “All these things are against me:” but when we have seen “the end” and issue of the dispensation, we shall confess that “the Lord has been pitiful to us, and of tender mercy [Note: James 5:11.].” If we view an insulated and individual occurrence, we may be perplexed respecting it; but if we view it in connexion with all that has preceded and followed it, we shall be able to set our seal to the truth of that promise, “All things shall work together for good to them that love God.” Whatever then be the affliction under which we are suffering, let us never for a moment lose sight of that truth, “Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”]

2. In the most painful operations of his grace—

[The different circumstances adduced for the illustration of God’s providence may not unfitly be regarded as images to shadow forth also the operations of his grace. Truly in them we may see the wants and miseries, the helplessness and terrors, of an awakened soul. Who that knows any thing of his own state has not seen himself a wanderer from the ways of God, and perishing for lack of knowledge? Who has not groaned, and bitterly too, under the chains of sin by which he has been tied and bound? Who has not felt his inability to help himself, as much as if he had been dying of an incurable disorder? And who has not seen himself sinking, as it were, into the bottomless abyss, and been almost “at his wit’s end,” because he saw not how his soul could be saved? We do not mean to intimate, that all converted persons have felt these things in an equal degree: but all have felt them sufficiently to see the suitableness of these images to their own experience. What then shall we say? Does God, in suffering them to be so exercised, mark his displeasure against them? No: it is love, and love alone, that he manifests. Multitudes of others he leaves to follow their own evil ways without fear, and without remorse: but those whom he loves he awakens from their security: he sends his Holy Spirit to convince them of sin; he stirs them up to fervent prayer; and then, in answer to their prayers, he speaks peace to their souls. “Those troubles were not at the time joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterwards they yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby.”]

Advice—

1. View the hand of God in every thing—

[Things may be called great or small by comparison; but, in fact, there is nothing small, when considered in relation to the possible events which may spring from it. The opening of the book precisely in the place where the services of Mordecai to Ahasuerus were recorded, was as much a work of God as any other that is contained in the Sacred Volume [Note: Esther 6:1-3.]: and the circumstances connected with it were of incalculable importance to the whole Jewish nation. Let nothing then be accounted small: but receive every thing as from God, and endeavour to improve every thing for him: and then shall every thing enrich you with wisdom, and inflame your souls with gratitude and love.]

2. Take occasion from every thing to spread your wants before him in prayer—

[The great, the universal remedy, to which we should have recourse, is Prayer. Prayer will turn every thing to gold. Whether our trials be of a temporal or spiritual nature, they cannot fail of proving blessings if only they drive us to a throne of grace. The direction of God himself is, that “in every thing we should make our requests known to him:” and, on our doing so, we are assured, that “the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus [Note: Philippians 4:6-7.].” “If we call upon him in the time of trouble, he will hear us,” and turn all our complaints into praise and thanksgiving.]

3. Give him the glory of all the deliverances you receive—

[On all the different occasions mentioned in the psalm, it is said, “O that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness!” This is the tribute which all of us are called to pay; and the very end which God proposes to himself, both in our trials and deliverances, is, to make us sensible of his goodness, and to draw forth from us the tribute of a grateful heart. “Whoso offereth him praise, glorifieth him.” See to it then that your daily mercies call forth suitable returns of love and gratitude: and thus will you be preparing gradually for that blessed day, when all the mysterious designs of God, which now you could not penetrate, shall be unravelled, and all your sorrows terminate in endless joy.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 107:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/psalms-107.html. 1832.

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