Psalm 107:40
He pours contempt on princes, and causes them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Psalm 107:40. He poureth contempt upon princes — Even princes and kings cannot secure to themselves and their posterity the continuance of their dignity, glory, and authority. Though they might be honourable, adored like gods by their people, and terrible to their enemies, when God frowns upon them for their transgressions, their honour and power vanish away; they become despicable in the eyes of their own subjects, and of other nations. He causeth them to wander in the wilderness, &c. — Those that exalt themselves God abases; and in order thereto infatuates; he gives them up to foolish and pernicious counsels, by which they are exposed to contempt, and brought to their wit’s end, not knowing what course to take: or, he baffles those counsels by which they thought to support their pomp and power, so that they issue in their ruin. Or, the sense is, he deprives them of their crowns and kingdoms, banishes them from their courts, and forces them to flee into desolate wildernesses for shelter and subsistence. Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction — At the same time that he bringeth down great potentates, he advances those that were obscure and contemptible; and maketh him families like a flock — Which increase very much in a little time. “Let not those, then, who have received the largest share of Heaven’s favours, boast and presume. The continuance of those favours depends upon the continuance of their fidelity and obedience. Mighty empires, with their princes, have, for their wickedness, been brought low by the arm of Jehovah, and laid in the dust; while nations, poor and feeble, and never thought of, have been taken from thence, and exalted over them. What revolutions have, in like manner, happened, and probably are still to happen in the church! Jerusalem is fallen through unbelief; and the Gentile Church stands only by faith, from which if she depart, vengeance will be executed on her likewise. Yet, even in the worst of times, there is a promise that the poor in spirit, the faithful and humble disciples of the holy Jesus, shall be preserved from the evil, and set on high from affliction; yea, that they shall be multiplied like a flock, under the care of the good Shepherd, to preserve his name, and to continue a church upon earth until he shall return again.” — Horne.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.He poureth contempt upon princes - He treats them as if they were common people; he pays no regard in his providence to their station and rank. They are subjected to the same needs as others; they meet with reverses like others; they become captives like others; they sicken and die like others; they are laid in the grave like others; and, with the same offensiveness, they turn back to dust. Between monarchs and their subjects, masters and their slaves, mistresses and their handmaidens, rich men and poor men, beauty and deformity, there is no distinction in the pains of sickness, in the pangs of dying, in the loathsomeness of the grave. The process of corruption goes on in the most splendid coffin, and beneath the most costly monument which art and wealth can rear, as well as in the plainest coffin, and in the grave marked by no stone or memorial. What can more strikingly show "contempt" for the trappings of royalty, for the adornings of wealth, for the stars and garters of nobility, for coronets and crowns, for the diamonds, the pearls, and the gold that decorate beauty, than that which occurs "in a grave!" The very language used here, alike in the Hebrew and in our translation, is found in Job 12:21. The word rendered "princes" properly means "willing, voluntary, prompt;" and is then applied to the generous, to the noble-minded, to those who give liberally. It then denotes one of noble rank, as the idea of rank in the mind of the Orientals was closely connected with the notion of liberality in giving. Thus it comes to demote one of noble birth, and might be applied to any of exalted rank.

And causeth them to wander in the wilderness - Margin, "void place." The Hebrew word - תהו tôhû - means properly wasteness, desolateness; emptiness, vanity. See Genesis 1:2; Job 26:7; Isaiah 41:29; Isaiah 44:9; Isaiah 49:4. Here it means an empty, uninhabited place; a place where there is no path to guide; a land of desolation. The reference seems to be to the world beyond the grave; the land of shadows and night. Compare the notes at Job 10:21-22.

Where there is no way - literally, "no way." That is, no well-trodden path. All must soon go to that pathless world.

40. wander … wilderness—reduced to misery (Job 12:24). He poureth contempt upon princes; those who were honourable and adored like gods by their people, and terrible to all their enemies, he renders them despicable to their own subjects, and to other nations; and this he doth suddenly, abundantly, and unavoidably, as this phrase of pouring it out upon them seems to imply. To wander in the wilderness, where there is no way; either,

1. He giveth them up to foolish and pernicious counsels, by which they are exposed to contempt, and brought to their wit’s end, not knowing what course to take. Or,

2. He banished them from their own courts and kingdoms, and forced them to flee into desolate wildernesses for shelter and subsistence. He poureth contempt upon princes,.... That is, the Lord does, who is above them; he laughs at them, and has them in derision, when they are raging against his people, cause, and interest; he sets them up and pulls them down at his pleasure; he hurls them from their seats and thrones, and makes them contemptible to their subjects; he sometimes brings them to a shameful end, as Herod, who was eaten with worms; and wicked princes, if they are not brought to disgrace in this world, they will rise to shame and everlasting contempt in the other; and will stand with the meanest and lowest before the Judge of the whole earth; and seek to the rocks and mountains to cover them from his wrath. This particularly will be true of the antichristian princes, when the vials of God's wrath will be poured out upon them, Revelation 16:1.

And causeth them to wander in the wilderness; where there is no way; no beaten track or path; whither being driven out of their kingdoms, they flee for shelter, and wander about in untrodden paths; as Nebuchadnezzar, when he was driven from men, and had his dwelling with the beasts of the field: or this may be interpreted, as it is by Aben Ezra and Kimchi, the infatuation of their wisdom, and of their being left without counsel, and erring through it; being at their wits' end, not knowing what step to take, or measures to concert; being in a maze, in a wilderness, at an entire loss what they should do; see Job 12:17.

He poureth {t} contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.

(t) For their wickedness and tyranny he causes the people and subjects to contemn them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
40. “He poureth contempt upon princes,

And maketh them wander in a wayless waste,”Verse 40. - He poureth contempt upon princes. A direct quotation from Job 12:21, but not therefore to be regarded as spurious, since the sacred writers often quote one another, and the psalmists especially are very much in the habit of citing, or referring to Job (see, in this very psalm, besides the present passage, vers. 10, 18 (bis), 20, 34, 41, and 42). And causeth them to wander in the wilderness; rather, a wilderness (comp. Job 12:24). Where there is no way. "Wandering in a wilder ness without a way denotes helpless embarrassment" (Hengstenberg). Since 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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