Psalm 107:34
A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.
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(34) Barrenness.—Better, a salt marsh, as in LXX. and Vulg. (See Job 39:6.)

107:33-43 What surprising changes are often made in the affairs of men! Let the present desolate state of Judea, and of other countries, explain this. If we look abroad in the world, we see many greatly increase, whose beginning was small. We see many who have thus suddenly risen, as suddenly brought to nothing. Worldly wealth is uncertain; often those who are filled with it, ere they are aware, lose it again. God has many ways of making men poor. The righteous shall rejoice. It shall fully convince all those who deny the Divine Providence. When sinners see how justly God takes away the gifts they have abused, they will not have a word to say. It is of great use to us to be fully assured of God's goodness, and duly affected with it. It is our wisdom to mind our duty, and to refer our comfort to him. A truly wise person will treasure in his heart this delightful psalm. From it, he will fully understand the weakness and wretchedness of man, and the power and loving-kindness of God, not for our merit, but for his mercy's sake.A fruitful land - Hebrew, A land of fruit. That is, a land that would produce abundance. The word "fruit" here is not used in the limited sense in which we now employ it, but means any productions of the earth.

Into barrenness - Margin, as in Hebrew, "saltness." The word is used to denote a barren soil, because where salt "abounds" the soil "is" barren. Thus it is around the Dead Sea. Compare Job 39:6; Jeremiah 17:6. See also Virg. Geor. II. 238, "Salsa ... tellus - frugibus infelix;" Pliny, Hist. Nat. 31. 7; Bochart, Hieroz. t. i., p. 872.

For the wickedness of them that dwell therein - As he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah; probably alluding to that.

33-41. He turneth rivers into a wilderness, &c.—God's providence is illustriously displayed in His influence on two great elements of human prosperity, the earth's productiveness and the powers of government. He punishes the wicked by destroying the sources of fertility, or, in mercy, gives fruitfulness to deserts, which become the homes of a busy and successful agricultural population. By a permitted misrule and tyranny, this scene of prosperity is changed to one of adversity. He rules rulers, setting up one and putting down another. Into barrenness, Heb. into saltness, which procures barrenness. See Deu 29:23 Judges 9:45.

For the wickedness of them that dwell therein; he doth not inflict these judgments by choice, or without cause, but for the punishment of sin in some, and the prevention of it in others.

A fruitful land into barrenness,.... Or, "into saltness" (t); as Sodom and the land adjacent became a salt sea; and the land of Canaan was threatened to become brimstone, salt and burning, like Sodom; in which nothing was sown, and which bore no grass; see Genesis 14:3 and so the Targum,

"the land of Israel, which brought forth fruit, he hath destroyed, as Sodom was overthrown.''

For the wickedness of them that dwell therein; this was the cause of the overthrow of Sodom, and of the destruction of that fine country, as also of Canaan afterwards; see Genesis 13:13. The very Heathens had a notion that barrenness and unfruitfulness in countries were owing to the sins of men; hence the sterility and famine at Mycenas were attributed to the wickedness of Atreus (u). This may figuratively be understood of the present state and condition of the Jews; who were once a people well watered with the word and ordinances, and had the first preaching of the Gospel among them; but, rejecting and despising it, are now become like a desert, barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of divine things: and it might be illustrated by the case of several Christian churches; the seven churches of Asia, and others, once as well watered gardens, but now are no more; and the places where they stood are destitute of spiritual knowledge, and the means of it.

(t) "in salsuginem", Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Vatablus, Piscator, Gejerus, Michaelis; so Junius & Tremellius; "in salsam", Cocceius. (u) Hygin. Fab. 88.

A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.
34. barrenness] A salt desert (Jeremiah 17:6) like Sodom and Gomorrha, Deuteronomy 29:23.

Verse 34. - A fruitful land into barrenness; literally, into saltness. The judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah is probably in the writer's mind. For the wickedness of them that dwell therein. God does not capriciously withdraw his blessings from a land. If he turns a fruitful land into a barren one, we may be sure that the inhabitants have provoked him by their sins. Psalm 107:34Since in Psalm 107:36 the historical narration is still continued, a meaning relating to the contemporaneous past is also retrospectively given to the two correlative ישׂם. It now goes on to tell what those who have now returned have observed and experienced in their own case. Psalm 107:33 sounds like Isaiah 50:2; Psalm 107:33 like Isaiah 35:7; and Psalm 107:35 takes its rise from Isaiah 41:18. The juxtaposition of מוצאי and צמּאון, since Deuteronomy 8:15, belongs to the favourite antithetical alliterations, e.g., Isaiah 61:3. מלחה, that which is salty (lxx cf. Sir. 39:23: ἅλμη), is, as in Job 39:6, the name for the uncultivated, barren steppe. A land that has been laid waste for the punishment of its inhabitants has very often been changed into flourishing fruitful fields under the hands of a poor and grateful generation; and very often a land that has hitherto lain uncultivated and to all appearance absolutely unprofitable has developed an unexpected fertility. The exiles to whom Jeremiah writes, Psalm 29:5 : Build ye houses and settle down, and plant gardens and eat their fruit, may frequently have experienced this divine blessing. Their industry and their knowledge also did their part, but looked at in a right light, it was not their own work but God's work that their settlement prospered, and that they continually spread themselves wider and possessed a not small, i.e., (cf. 2 Kings 4:3) a very large, stock of cattle.
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