|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
107:23-32 Let those who go to sea, consider and adore the Lord. Mariners have their business upon the tempestuous ocean, and there witness deliverances of which others cannot form an idea. How seasonable it is at such a time to pray! This may remind us of the terrors and distress of conscience many experience, and of those deep scenes of trouble which many pass through, in their Christian course. Yet, in answer to their cries, the Lord turns their storm into a calm, and causes their trials to end in gladness.
Verses 23-32. - Finally, there are cases among those whose business requires them to traverse the sea, where the danger is great, and death seems imminent. Let such persons cast themselves upon God, and "cry to him in their trouble," and they too will be heard and delivered. Must it not be their duty also to give thanks? Verse 23. - They that go down to the sea in ships. That many of the Israelites engaged in maritime pursuits appears from 1 Kings 9:26-28; 1 Kings 10:22; 1 Kings 22:48; 2 Chronicles 20:36; as also from Judges 5:17; Psalm 48:7; Proverbs 23:34; Proverbs 30:19; and from many passages of the Apocrypha. Joppa was at all times an Israelite port, from which trade was carried on by the residents (2 Chronicles 2:16; Ezra 3:7; Jonah 1:3). That do business in great waters; i.e. the sea of Galilee and Lake Merom.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They that go down to the sea in ships,.... This is the fourth instance of persons in distress crying to the Lord for help, and, having it, are laid under obligation to praise him; the case of seafaring men: so the Targum introduces it,
"mariners that go down to the sea in ships;''
the same form of expression as here is used in Isaiah 42:10. Some affirm the sea to be higher than the earth, but by this it should be lower; besides the earth is said to be founded on the seas, which suggests superiority; and all the rivers run into the sea, which supposes a declivity; but, be it so that it is higher than the earth, yet this phrase is to be justified by the shores being higher than the sea, from whence men go down to take shipping, as Kimchi observes; though Kimchi's father is of opinion that it respects persons going down into the ship, which is deep, as Jonah is said to do, Jonah 1:3.
That do business in great waters: which refers either to the steering and working of the ship, and everything relating to the management of the ropes and sails, and other affairs; and in a storm much business is done, all hands are employed: or else to the business they go to sea about, as catching fish, curing them, and carrying them to market; or else to traffic and merchandise of goods, they convey from place to place. The phrase is much like that, "as many as trade by sea", Revelation 18:17.
The Treasury of David
23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
24 These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.
25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up waves thereof.
26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths; soul is melted because of trouble.
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end.
28 Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them of their distresses.
29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
31 Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonder-works to the children of men!
32 Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise in the assembly of the elders.
"They that go, down to the sea in ships." Navigation was so little practised among the Israelites that mariners were invested with a high degree of mystery, their craft was looked upon as one of singular daring and peril. Tales of the thrilled all hearts with awe, and he who had been to Ophir or to Tarshish and returned alive was looked upon as a man of renown, an ancient mariner to be listened to with reverent attention. Voyages were looked on as descending to an s, "going down to the sea in ships;" whereas now our bolder and more accused sailors talk of the "high seas." "That do business in great waters." If they had not had business to do, they would never have ventured on the ocean, ye never read in the Scriptures of any man taking his pleasure on the sea; so averse was the Israelitish mind to seafaring, that we do not hear of even Solomon himself keeping a pleasure boat. The Mediterranean was "the great sea" to David and his countrymen, and they viewed those who had business upon it with no small degree of admiration.
"These see the works of the Lord." Beyond the dwellers on the land they see the Lord's greatest works or at least such as stayers at home judge to be so when they hear the report thereof. Instead of the ocean proving to be a watery wilderness, it is full of God's creatures, and if we were to attempt to escape from his presence by flying to the uttermost parts of it, we should only rush into Jehovah's arms, and ourselves in the very centre of his workshop. "And his wonders in the deep." They see wonders in it and on it. It is in itself a wonder and it swarms with wonders. Seamen because they have fewer objects around them, are more observant of those have than landsmen are, and hence they are said to see the wonders in the deep. At the same time, the ocean really does contain many of the more striking of God's creatures, and it is the scene of many of the more tremendous of the physical phenomena by which the power and majesty of the Lord are revealed among men. The chief wonders alluded to by the Psalmist are a sudden storm and the calm which as it follows it.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23-32. Here are set forth the perils of seafaring, futility of man's, and efficiency of God's, help.
go … sea—alluding to the elevation of the land at the coast.
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