Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary

Verses 23-32 (Psalms 107:23-32)

The psalmist here calls upon those to give glory to God who are delivered from dangers at sea. Though the Israelites dealt not much in merchandise, yet their neighbours the Tyrians and Zidonians did, and for them perhaps this part of the psalm was especially calculated.

I. Much of the power of God appears at all times in the sea, Ps. 107:23, 24. It appears to those that go down to the sea in ships, as mariners, merchants, fishermen, or passengers, that do business in great waters. And surely none will expose themselves there but those that have business (among all Solomon?s pleasant things we do not read of any pleasure-boat he had), but those that go on business, lawful business, may, in faith, put themselves under the divine protection. These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders, which are the more surprising, because most are born and bred upon land, and what passes at sea is new to them. The deep itself is a wonder, its vastness, its saltness, its ebbing and flowing. The great variety of living creatures in the sea is wonderful. Let those that go to sea be led, by all the wonders they observe there, to consider and adore the infinite perfections of that God whose the sea is, for he made it and manages it.

II. It especially appears in storms at sea, which are much more terrible than at land. Observe here, 1. How dangerous and dreadful a tempest at sea is. Then wonders begin to appear in the deep, when God commands and raises the strong wind, which fulfils his word, Ps. 148:8. He raises the winds, as a prince by his commission raises forces. Satan pretends to be the prince of the power of the air; but he is a pretender; the powers of the air are at God?s command, not at his. When the wind becomes stormy it lifts up the waves of the sea, Ps. 107:25. Then the ships are kicked like tennis-balls on the tops of the waves; they seem to mount up to the heavens, and then they couch again, as if they would go down to the depths, Ps. 107:26. A stranger, who had never seen it, would not think it possible for a ship to live at sea, as it will in a storm, and ride it out, but would expect that the next wave would bury it and it would never come up again; and yet God, who taught man discretion to make ships that should so strangely keep above water, does by his special providence preserve them, that they answer the end to admiration. When the ships are thus tossed the soul of the seaman melts because of trouble; and, when the storm is very high, even those that are used to the sea can neither shake off nor dissemble their fears, but they reel to and fro, and tossing makes them giddy, and they stagger and are sick, it may be, like a drunken man; the whole ship?s crew are in confusion and quite at their wits? end (Ps. 107:27), not knowing what to do more for their preservation; all their wisdom is swallowed up, and they are ready to give up themselves for gone, Jonah 1:5-11 2. How seasonable it is at such a time to pray. Those that go to sea must expect such perils as are here described, and the best preparation they can make for them is to make sure a liberty of access to God by prayer, for then they will cry unto the Lord, Ps. 107:28. We have a saying, ?Let those that would learn to pray go to sea;? I say, Let those that will go to sea learn to pray, and accustom themselves to pray, that they may come with the more boldness to the throne of grace when they are in trouble. Even heathen mariners, in a storm, cried every man to his god; but those that have the Lord for their God have a present and powerful help in that and every other time of need, so that when they are at their wits? end they are not at their faith?s end. 3. How wonderfully God sometimes appears for those that are in distress at sea, in answer to their prayers: He brings them out of the danger; and, (1.) The sea is still: He makes the storm a calm, Ps. 107:29. The winds fall, and only by their soft and gentle murmurs serve to lull the waves asleep again, so that the surface of the sea becomes smooth and smiling. By this Christ proved himself to be more than a man that even the winds and the seas obeyed him. (2.) The seamen are made easy: They are glad because they are quiet, quiet from the noise, quiet from the fear of evil. Quietness after a storm is a very desirable thing, and sensibly pleasant. (3.) The voyage becomes prosperous and successful: So he brings them to their desired haven, Ps. 107:30. Thus he carries his people safely through all the storms and tempests that they meet with in their voyage heaven-ward, and lands them, at length, in the desired harbour. 4. How justly it is expected that all those who have had a safe passage over the sea, and especially who have been delivered from remarkable perils at sea, should acknowledge it with thankfulness, to the glory of God. Let them do it privately in their closets and families. Let them praise the Lord for his goodness to themselves and others, Ps. 107:31. Let them do it publicly (Ps. 107:32), in the congregation of the people and in the assembly of the elders; there let them erect the memorials of their deliverance, to the honour of God, and for the encouragement of others to trust him.

- Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary