Psalm 107:34
A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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. Others have returned to tell of the perils of the sea. Without any allegory (Hengstenberg) it speaks of those who by reason of their calling traverse (which is expressed by ירד because the surface of the sea lies below the dry land which slopes off towards the coast) the sea in ships (read boŏnijoth without the article), and that not as fishermen, but (as Luther has correctly understood the choice of the word) in commercial enterprises. These have seen the works and wonders of God in the eddying deep, i.e., they have seen with their own eyes what God can do when in His anger He calls up the powers of nature, and on the other hand when He compassionately orders them back into their bounds. God's mandate (ויּאמר as in Psalm 105:31, Psalm 105:34) brought it to pass that a stormy wind arose (cf. עמד, Psalm 33:9), and it drove its (the sea's) waves on high, so that the seafarers at one time were tossed up to the sky and then hurled down again into deep abysses, and their soul melted בּרעה, in an evil, anxious mood, i.e., lost all its firmness. They turned about in a circle (יחוגּוּ( elc from חגג equals חוּג) and reeled after the manner of a drunken man; all their wisdom swallowed itself up, i.e., consumed itself within itself, came of itself to nought, just as Ovid, Trist. i. 1, says in connection with a similar description of a storm at sea: ambiguis ars stupet ipsa malis. The poet here writes under the influence of Isaiah 19:3, Isaiah 19:14. But at their importunate supplication God led them forth out of their distresses (Psalm 25:17). He turned the raging storm into a gentle blowing ( equals דּממה דּקּה, 1 Kings 19:12). הקים construed with ל here has the sense of transporting (carrying over) into another condition or state, as Apollinaris renders: αὐτίκα δ ̓ εἰς αὔρην προτέρην μετέθηκε θύελλαν. The suffix of גּלּיהם cannot refer to the מים רבּים in Psalm 107:23, which is so far removed; "their waves" are those with which they had to battle. These to their joy became calm (חשׁה) and were still (שׁתק as in Jonah 1:11), and God guided them ἐπὶ λιμένα θελήματος αὐτῶν (lxx). מחוז, a hapax-legomenon, from Arab. ḥâz (ḥwz), to shut in on all sides and to draw to one's self (root Arab. ḥw, gyravit, in gyrum egit), signifies a place enclosed round, therefore a haven, and first of all perhaps a creek, to use a northern word, a fiord. The verb שׁתק in relation to חשׁה is the stronger word, like יבשׁ in relation to חרם in the history of the Flood. Those who have been thus marvellously rescued are then called upon thankfully to praise God their Deliverer in the place where the national church assembles, and where the chiefs of the nation sit in council; therefore, as it seems, in the Temple and in the Forum.

(Note: In exact editions like Norzi, Heidenheim, and Baer's, before Psalm 107:23, Psalm 107:24, Psalm 107:25, Psalm 107:26, Psalm 107:27, Psalm 107:28, and Psalm 107:40 there stand reversed Nuns (נונין הפוכין, in the language of the Masora נונין מנזרות), as before Numbers 10:35 and between Numbers 10:36 and Numbers 11:1 (nine in all). Their signification is unknown.)

Now follow two more groups without the two beautiful and impressive refrains with which the four preceding groups are interspersed. The structure is less artistic, and the transitions here and there abrupt and awkward. One might say that these two groups are inferior to the rest, much as the speeches of Elihu are inferior to the rest of the Book of Job. That they are, however, nevertheless from the hand of the very same poet is at once seen from the continued dependence upon the Book of Job and Isaiah. Hengstenberg sees in Psalm 107:33-42 "the song with which they exalt the Lord in the assembly of the people and upon the seat of the elders." but the materia laudis is altogether different from that which is to be expected according to the preceding calls to praise. Nor is it any the more clear to us that Psalm 107:33. refer to the overthrow of Babylon, and Psalm 107:35. to the happy turn of affairs that took place simultaneously for Israel; Psalm 107:35 does not suit Canaan, and the expressions in Psalm 107:36. would be understood in too low a sense. No, the poet goes on further to illustrate the helpful government of God the just and gracious One, inasmuch as he has experiences in his mind in connection therewith, of which the dispersion of Israel in all places can sing and speak.

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