Psalm 107:12
Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.
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(12) Brought down.—Literally, made them bend.

Fell down.—Better, stumbled.

The whole verse presents a picture of men staggering under the forced labour which was the usual fate of captives under the great Oriental monarchies.

107:10-16 This description of prisoners and captives intimates that they are desolate and sorrowful. In the eastern prisons the captives were and are treated with much severity. Afflicting providences must be improved as humbling providences; and we lose the benefit, if our hearts are unhumbled and unbroken under them. This is a shadow of the sinner's deliverance from a far worse confinement. The awakened sinner discovers his guilt and misery. Having struggled in vain for deliverance, he finds there is no help for him but in the mercy and grace of God. His sin is forgiven by a merciful God, and his pardon is accompanied by deliverance from the power of sin and Satan, and by the sanctifying and comforting influences of God the Holy Spirit.Therefore he brought down their heart - Their pride; their self-sufficiency; their self-complacency. They thought that they could do without God; they relied on their own resources, and were self-satisfied; but God showed them that all this was vain, and humbled them, as he often does the proud, in the dust.

With labour - With trouble; with affliction; with disappointment; with reverses; with sorrow. The Hebrew word - עמל ‛âmâl - would include all this. Compare Genesis 41:51; Deuteronomy 26:7; Job 3:10; Job 16:2.

They fell down - They, as it were, "stumbled" - for so the Hebrew word means. They were walking along with a haughty air, and a high look, and suddenly they stumbled and fell.

And there was none to help - No God to interpose; no nation to befriend them; no human arm to be stretched out for their deliverance. God gave them up, helpless, to the just consequences of their folly and wickedness.

10-16. Their sufferings were for their rebellion against (Ps 105:28) the words, or purposes, or promises, of God for their benefit. When humbled they cry to God, who delivers them from bondage, described as a dark dungeon with doors and bars of metal, in which they are bound in iron—that is, chains and fetters.

shadow of death—darkness with danger (Ps 23:4).

Their heart; the pride, and rebellion, and obstinacy of their hearts.

With labour; or, with trouble or troubles. They fell into their enemy’s hands, and into hopeless and remediless miseries.

Therefore he brought down their heart with labour,.... Humbled them under his mighty hand; brought down their haughty spirits and proud stomachs by one afflictive providence or another; by which the Lord humbles men, as he did the Israelites in the wilderness, and hides pride from them: or with trouble of mind, under a conviction of sin; when pride, which is the cause of rebellion against God, and of contempt of his counsel, is brought down, and the haughtiness of man laid low; and when men, humbled under a sense of sin, are made willing to submit to Christ and his righteousness, to God's way of saving sinners by him, to the law of God, and to the Gospel of Christ.

They fell down; they threw themselves prostrate at his feet for mercy; their heart and strength failed them, as the word signifies, and is used in Psalm 31:10, terrified with a sense of divine wrath, they could not stand before the Lord, nor brave it out against him.

And there was none to help; they could not help themselves, nor was there any creature that could. There is salvation in no other than in Christ; when he saw there was none to help him in that work, his own arm brought salvation to him; and when sinners see there is help in no other, they apply to him, as follows.

Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.
12. So that he subdued their heart with travail. Cp. Psalm 106:42.

they fell down] Lit. they stumbled; figuratively as in Psalm 105:37 (note); Isaiah 3:8 (A.V. is ruined).

Verse 12. - Therefore he brought down their heart with labor; rather, with misery, or with sorrow. They fell down; i.e. collapsed - sank to the earth. And there was none to help. They were like Job; no one gave them any help in their affliction. Psalm 107:12Others suffered imprisonment and bonds; but through Him who had decreed this as punishment for them, they also again reached the light of freedom. Just as in the first strophe, here, too, as far as יודוּ in Psalm 107:15, is all a compound subject; and in view of this the poet begins with participles. "Darkness and the shadow of death" (vid., Psalm 23:4) is an Isaianic expression, Isaiah 9:1 (where ישׁבי is construed with ב), Psalm 42:7 (where ישׁבי is construed as here, cf. Genesis 4:20; Zechariah 2:11), just as "bound in torture and iron" takes its rise from Job 36:8. The old expositors call it a hendiadys for "torturing iron" (after Psalm 105:18); but it is more correct to take the one as the general term and the other as the particular: bound in all sorts of affliction from which they could not break away, and more particularly in iron bonds (בּרזל, like the Arabic firzil, an iron fetter, vid., on Psalm 105:18). In Psalm 107:11, which calls to mind Isaiah 5:19, and with respect to Psalm 107:12, Isaiah 3:8, the double play upon the sound of the words is unmistakeable. By עצה is meant the plan in accordance with which God governs, more particularly His final purpose, which lies at the basis of His leadings of Israel. Not only had they nullified this purpose of mercy by defiant resistance (המרה) against God's commandments (אמרי, Arabic awâmir, âmireh) on their part, but they had even blasphemed it; נאץ, Deuteronomy 32:19, and frequently, or נאץ (prop. to pierce, then to treat roughly), is an old Mosaic designation of blasphemy, Deuteronomy 31:20; Numbers 14:11, Numbers 14:23; Numbers 16:30. Therefore God thoroughly humbled them by afflictive labour, and caused them to stumble (כּשׁל). But when they were driven to it, and prayed importunately to Him, He helped them out of their straits. The refrain varies according to recognised custom. Twice the expression is ויצעקו, twice ויזעקו; once יצילם, then twice יושׁיעם, and last of all יוציאם, which follows here in Psalm 107:14 as an alliteration. The summary condensation of the deliverance experienced (Psalm 107:16) is moulded after Isaiah 45:2. The Exile, too, may be regarded as such like a large jail (vid., e.g., Isaiah 42:7, Isaiah 42:22); but the descriptions of the poet are not pictures, but examples.
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