107:33 He turned 1 streams into a desert,
springs of water into arid land,
107:34 and a fruitful land into a barren place, 2
because of the sin of its inhabitants.
107:35 As for his people, 3 he turned 4 a desert into a pool of water,
and a dry land into springs of water.
107:36 He allowed the hungry to settle there,
and they established a city in which to live.
107:37 They cultivated 5 fields,
and planted vineyards,
which yielded a harvest of fruit. 6
107:38 He blessed 7 them so that they became very numerous.
He would not allow their cattle to decrease in number. 8
107:39 As for their enemies, 9 they decreased in number and were beaten down,
because of painful distress 10 and suffering.
107:40 He would pour 11 contempt upon princes,
and he made them wander in a wasteland with no road.
107:41 Yet he protected 12 the needy from oppression,
and cared for his families like a flock of sheep.
1 tn The verbal form appears to be a preterite, which is most naturally taken as narrational. (The use of prefixed forms with vav [ו] consecutive in vv. 36-37 favor this.) The psalmist may return to the theme of God’s intervention for the exiles (see vv. 4-22, especially vv. 4-9). However, many regard vv. 33-41 as a hymnic description which generalizes about God’s activities among men. In this case it would be preferable to use the English present tense throughout (cf. NEB, NRSV).
2 tn Heb “a salty land.”
3 tn The words “As for his people” are not included in the Hebrew text, but have been supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity. The psalmist contrasts God’s judgment on his enemies with his blessing of his people. See the note on the word “enemies” in v. 39 for further discussion.
4 tn The verbal form appears to be a preterite, which is most naturally taken as narrational. See the note on the word “turned” in v. 33.
5 tn Heb “sowed seed in.”
6 tn Heb “fruit [as] produce.”
7 tn “Bless” here carries the nuance “endue with sexual potency, make fertile.” See Gen 1:28, where the statement “he blessed them” directly precedes the command “be fruitful and populate the earth” (see also 1:22). The verb “bless” carries this same nuance in Gen 17:16 (where God’s blessing of Sarai imparts to her the capacity to bear a child); 48:16 (where God’s blessing of Joseph’s sons is closely associated with their having numerous descendants); and Deut 7:13 (where God’s blessing is associated with fertility in general, including numerous descendants). See also Gen 49:25 (where Jacob uses the noun derivative in referring to “blessings of the breast and womb,” an obvious reference to fertility) and Gen 27:27 (where the verb is used of a field to which God has given the capacity to produce vegetation).
8 tn The verbal form in this line appears to be an imperfect, which may be taken as customary (drawing attention to typical action in a past time frame) or as generalizing (in which case one should use the English present tense, understanding a move from narrative to present reality).
9 tn The words “As for their enemies” are not included in the Hebrew text, but have been supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity. Without such clarification, one might think that v. 39 refers to those just mentioned in v. 38 as objects of divine blessing, which would contradict the point just emphasized by the psalmist. The structure of vv. 33-42 is paneled (A-B-A-B). In vv. 33-34 the psalmist describes God’s judgment upon his enemies (perhaps those who had enslaved his people). In vv. 35-38 he contrasts this judgment with the divine blessing poured out on God’s people. (See the note on the word “people” in v. 35.) In vv. 39-40 he contrasts this blessing with the judgment experienced by enemies, before returning in vv. 41-42 to the blessing experienced by God’s people.
10 tn Heb “from the oppression of calamity.”
11 tn The active participle is understood as past durative here, drawing attention to typical action in a past time frame. However, it could be taken as generalizing (in which case one should translate using the English present tense), in which case the psalmist moves from narrative to present reality. Perhaps the participial form appears because the statement is lifted from Job 12:21.
12 tn Heb “set on high.”