Psalm 107:41
Yet sets he the poor on high from affliction, and makes him families like a flock.
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(41) Like a flock.—This figure of a rapid increase of population is also borrowed from Job 21:11.

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.Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction - Margin, "after." The sense is not materially different. The idea is, that while he thus humbles princes, bringing them down from their lofty position, he has respect to the poor in their condition of suffering and trial, and raises them from that depressed state, and gives them prosperity. Thus he orders the circumstances of people, and shows his sovereignty.

And maketh him families like flock - Numerous as a flock. Large families were accounted a blessing among the Hebrews. See the notes at Psalm 107:38.

40. wander … wilderness—reduced to misery (Job 12:24). Yet setteth he the poor on high: and whilst he bringeth down great potentates, at the same time he advanceth those who were obscure and contemptible. Like a flock, which increase very much in a little time. Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction,.... On the other hand, the Lord sometimes exalteth men of low degree, raiseth men of mean extract and parentage, who have made a poor figure in life, to high places of honour, free from adversity and distress; as David from the sheepfold, and from following the ewes great with young, to be king of Israel. This may be applied to the saints and people of God, who for the most part are poor in purse, the poor of this world, whom he chooses, calls, and saves; poor knowledge, capacity, and gifts; poor as to their spiritual circumstances, having neither food nor clothing, nor money to buy either; poor in spirit, and sensible of it; and poor by reason of afflictions: these the Lord sets on high, sets them among the princes of his people, makes them kings and priests; sets them on Christ the Rock, who is higher than they, higher than the angels and than the heavens; sets them above the angels, their nature being advanced above theirs in Christ, and they being represented by him in heavenly places; and standing in the relation of sons to God, and of spouse and bride to Christ, and angels being their ministering servants; and ere long they will be set on thrones, and have a crown of glory, life, and righteousness, put upon them, and be possessed of an everlasting kingdom, and be out of the reach of affliction. They are not clear of it in this world; it is needful for them, they are appointed to it, and through it they must enter the kingdom; but then they will come out of all tribulation, and there will be no more pain, sorrow, and death: it may be rendered, "after affliction", after their time of affliction is over, then God will exalt and glorify them; see 1 Peter 5:10, this may respect the prosperity of the church in the latter day; see Daniel 7:27.

And maketh him families like a flock; that is, the Lord makes the poor families like a flock of sheep, so greatly does he increase them; this is a very apt figure that is here used, since the people of God are often compared to sheep, and to a flock of them; and these are creatures that greatly increase; and here it denotes the large number of the saints, as in the first times of the Gospel, both in Judea and in the Gentile world; and as it will be in the latter day, when they shall be multiplied and not be few, glorified and not be small; and that they should be branched out into families, or particular churches, which, like families, consist of children, young men, and fathers, of which Christ is master, and ministers stewards; so it has been from the beginning of the Gospel dispensation and will be much more so in the latter day, when the earth will be full of these families every where. The Targum introduces this verse thus,

"when they turn to the law he setteth, &c.''

Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.
41. And he set the needy on high from affliction,

And made him families like a flock.

There is no change of subject. The Psalmist is following the fortunes of those whom Jehovah has blessed with prosperity. Temporary reverses may happen to them, but He will not fail them in their need. Psalm 107:39 is virtually the protasis to Psalm 107:40, and the construction of Psalm 107:40 is somewhat awkward, because it is a verbatim quotation from Job 12:21 a, 24 b, which the Psalmist has adopted without alteration. The princes are any tyrannous oppressors; God humbles their pride and confounds their counsels. The Psalmist probably has in mind the troubles of the returned exiles, and intends his words to encourage their faith. [The construction would however be simplified by placing Psalm 107:40 before Psalm 107:39 (see above p. 638), thus: He poureth contempt upon princes … and they are diminished and brought low … and he setteth &c. He humbles the proud and exalts the humble.]

like a flock] i.e. numerous. Cp. Job 21:11; Ezekiel 36:37-38.

The P.B.V. of Psalm 107:40, “Though he suffer them to be evil intreated through tyrants, and let them wander out of the way in the wilderness,” comes from Coverdale, who derived it apparently from the Zürich Bible[63] (Introd. p. lxxiii). The Heb. however cannot bear this meaning.

[63] So er sy lasst durch die tyrannen beraubet und geschediget werden: so er sy durch die öden ort, da kein weg ist, härumb fürt.Verse 41. - Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction. Even in such dread calamities, when a whole nation is punished, God's providence protects the poor and needy - not of course in all, but still in very many, cases. The mower's scythe passes over the humblest flowers. And maketh him families like a flock (setup. Job 21:11). Those whom God thus preserves he collects into "families," and looks after as carefully as a shepherd looks after his sheep. 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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