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Psalms 107:10-31

Context

107:10 They sat in utter darkness, 1 

bound in painful iron chains, 2 

107:11 because they had rebelled against God’s commands, 3 

and rejected the instructions of the sovereign king. 4 

107:12 So he used suffering to humble them; 5 

they stumbled and no one helped them up.

107:13 They cried out to the Lord in their distress;

he delivered them from their troubles.

107:14 He brought them out of the utter darkness, 6 

and tore off their shackles.

107:15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his loyal love,

and for the amazing things he has done for people! 7 

107:16 For he shattered the bronze gates,

and hacked through the iron bars. 8 

107:17 They acted like fools in their rebellious ways, 9 

and suffered because of their sins.

107:18 They lost their appetite for all food, 10 

and they drew near the gates of death.

107:19 They cried out to the Lord in their distress;

he delivered them from their troubles.

107:20 He sent them an assuring word 11  and healed them;

he rescued them from the pits where they were trapped. 12 

107:21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his loyal love,

and for the amazing things he has done for people! 13 

107:22 Let them present thank offerings,

and loudly proclaim what he has done! 14 

107:23 15 Some traveled on 16  the sea in ships,

and carried cargo over the vast waters. 17 

107:24 They witnessed the acts of the Lord,

his amazing feats on the deep water.

107:25 He gave the order for a windstorm, 18 

and it stirred up the waves of the sea. 19 

107:26 They 20  reached up to the sky,

then dropped into the depths.

The sailors’ strength 21  left them 22  because the danger was so great. 23 

107:27 They swayed 24  and staggered like a drunk,

and all their skill proved ineffective. 25 

107:28 They cried out to the Lord in their distress;

he delivered them from their troubles.

107:29 He calmed the storm, 26 

and the waves 27  grew silent.

107:30 The sailors 28  rejoiced because the waves 29  grew quiet,

and he led them to the harbor 30  they desired.

107:31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his loyal love,

and for the amazing things he has done for people! 31 

1 tn Heb “those who sat in darkness and deep darkness.” Synonyms are joined here to emphasize the degree of “darkness” experienced by the exiles. The Hebrew term צַלְמָוֶת (tsalmavet, “deep darkness”) has traditionally been understood as a compound noun, meaning “shadow of death” (צֵל + מָוֶת [tsel + mavet]; see BDB 853 s.v. צַלְמָוֶת; cf. NASB). Other authorities prefer to vocalize the form צַלְמוּת (tsalmut) and understand it as an abstract noun (from the root צלם) meaning “darkness.” An examination of the word’s usage favors the latter derivation. It is frequently associated with darkness/night and contrasted with light/morning (see Job 3:5; 10:21-22; 12:22; 24:17; 28:3; 34:22; Ps 107:10, 14; Isa 9:1; Jer 13:16; Amos 5:8). In some cases the darkness described is associated with the realm of death (Job 10:21-22; 38:17), but this is a metaphorical application of the word and does not reflect its inherent meaning. In Ps 107:10 the word refers metonymically to a dungeon, which in turn metaphorically depicts the place of Israel’s exile (see vv. 2-3).

2 tn Heb “those bound in suffering and iron.” “Suffering and iron” is a hendiadys (like English “good and angry”), where both words contribute to one idea. In this case the first word characterizes the second; the iron (chains) contribute to the prisoners’ pain and suffering.

3 tn Heb “the words of God.”

4 tn Heb “the counsel of the Most High.”

5 tn Heb “and he subdued with suffering their heart.”

6 tn Heb “darkness and deep darkness.” See the note on the word “darkness” in v. 10.

7 tn Heb “and [for] his amazing deeds for the sons of man.” See v. 8.

8 sn The language of v. 16 recalls Isa 45:2.

9 tn Heb “fools [they were] because of the way of their rebellion.”

10 tn Heb “all food their appetite loathed.”

11 tn Heb “he sent his word.” This probably refers to an oracle of assurance which announced his intention to intervene (see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 [WBC], 59).

12 tn Heb “he rescued from their traps.” The Hebrew word שְׁחִית (shekhit, “trap”) occurs only here and in Lam 4:20, where it refers to a trap or pit in which one is captured. Because of the rarity of the term and the absence of an object with the verb “rescued,” some prefer to emend the text of Ps 107:20, reading מִשַׁחַת חַיָּתָם (mishakhat khayyatam, “[he rescued] their lives from the pit”). Note also NIV “from the grave,” which interprets the “pit” as Sheol or the grave.

13 tn Heb “and [for] his amazing deeds for the sons of man.” See v. 8.

14 tn Heb “and let them proclaim his works with a ringing cry.”

15 sn Verses 23-30, which depict the Lord rescuing sailors from a storm at sea, do not seem to describe the exiles’ situation, unless the word picture is metaphorical. Perhaps the psalmist here broadens his scope and offers an example of God’s kindness to the needy beyond the covenant community.

16 tn Heb “those going down [into].”

17 tn Heb “doers of work on the mighty waters.”

18 tn Heb “he spoke and caused to stand a stormy wind.”

19 tn Heb “and it stirred up its [i.e., the sea’s, see v. 23] waves.”

20 tn That is, the waves (see v. 25).

21 tn Heb “their being”; traditionally “their soul” (referring to that of the sailors). This is sometimes translated “courage” (cf. NIV, NRSV).

22 tn Or “melted.”

23 tn Heb “from danger.”

24 tn Only here does the Hebrew verb חָגַג (khagag; normally meaning “to celebrate”) carry the nuance “to sway.”

25 tn The Hitpael of בָלַע (vala’) occurs only here in the OT. Traditionally the form is derived from the verbal root בלע (“to swallow”), but HALOT 135 s.v. III בלע understands a homonym here with the meaning “to be confused.”

26 tn Heb “he raised [the] storm to calm.”

27 tn Heb “their waves.” The antecedent of the third masculine plural pronominal suffix is not readily apparent, unless it refers back to “waters” in v. 23.

28 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the sailors) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

29 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the waves) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

30 tn The Hebrew noun occurs only here in the OT.

31 tn Heb “and [for] his amazing deeds for the sons of man.” See v. 8.



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