“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psa. 107:1)
This Psalm is a prophecy which has special application to our time. It was not even remotely understood until the time of the Harvest, since as That Servant so well stated, prophecy cannot be clearly understood until it has been fulfilled, or is in the course of fulfillment.
There are seven distinct divisions in this Psalm, including the summation (the number seven represents Divine completeness). We understand these divisions to treat of the following: (1) the Little Flock (Psa. 107:1-9); (2) the Great Company (Psa. 107:10-16); (3) fleshly Israel during the Gospel Age, with special emphasis on the end of the age (Psa. 107:17-22); (4) the world in general during and at the end of the great tribulation (Psa. 107:23-32); (5) the people and conditions of the Millennium (Psa. 107:33-38); (6) the good and evil in the Little Season (Psa. 107:39-42) when “he [Satan] must be loosed a little season” (Rev. 20:3); (7) the summation. (Psa. 107:43)
THE LITTLE FLOCK
“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north and from the south.” (Psa. 107:2-3; see also Matt. 8:11) The “redeemed of the Lord” here refers to a special class of the redeemed, and not to all the world of mankind in general. They are the Little Flock and they are here exhorted to “say so,” that is to acknowledge and proclaim the Lord’s mercy to them. He has redeemed them from the hand of the enemy, the great Antichrist, the Papacy, and the little Antichrist, sectarian Protestantism. Surely they have cause for thanking Him!
This Little Flock is the “us‑we‑ye” referred to in many Scriptures, for example: “Thou . . . hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:9-10) “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins . . . ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” (Eph. 2:1‑2)
They have indeed been a conglomerate lot – a cross section of the human race, as to color, nationality, intellectual achievement and circumstances. “These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 14:4) “They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.” (Psa. 107:4-5) Compare Heb. 13:14: “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” After all of the foregoing, “Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.” (Psa. 107:6) This statement is repeated in the following three divisions of the Psalm. (Psa. 107:13,19,28) The underlying thought in each instance is that when the various classes call upon Yahweh in true penitence, He is ever ready and willing to hear and give them the relief they seek.
In response to the petitions of the Little Flock, the Psalm tells us that “He led them forth by the right way [a straight road], that they might go to a city of habitation.” (Psa. 107:7) He gave them the instruction and the ability to “make straight paths for your feet” (Heb. 12:13), that they might journey to a “city to dwell in” – New Jerusalem – “Zion, the perfection of beauty.” (Psa. 50:2) Theirs is the promise, “The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.” (Psa. 128:5)
We see that there is no criticism in the first nine verses of this Psalm, which relate to the Little Flock, whereas there is sharp denunciation of the next three classes that are discussed in verses 10 through 32. After He has heard their petitions and given them the needed relief, however, the prayer of thanksgiving is identical from all four classes: “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” (Psa. 107:8,15,21,31)
THE GREAT COMPANY
“Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned [spurned] the counsel of the most High.” (Psa. 107:10-11) The contrast here is between the Little Flock and the Great Company as regards the Truth. “Ye [the Little Flock] are all the children of light . . . we are not of the night [of sin], nor of darkness.” (1 Thess. 5:5) In their darkness (error), their groping about in confusion, they sit “in the shadow of death” – that is the Second Death constantly casts a shadow in their direction, leading them into devious and sundry activities, to which their unholy ambition prods them.
While the Great Company did not appear as a class throughout the Gospel Age, individually there were many times more of them than of the Little Flock all during the age, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:14) Their confused views on “the straight road” prompted them to build Great Babylon; and here at the end of the age they have repeated the performance. While in Azazel’s clutches they become especially ambitious in works of false propaganda, building false religious sects, and indulging in slander against their more faithful brethren. Thus they are deceived into believing they will accomplish great works, win great numbers, and gain great favor. So often are we reminded of those at the first Advent of whom it was said: “They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:43) But in this day when He will “make manifest the counsels of the hearts,” they will learn by sad experience that “the praise of men” is a very transitory and unprofitable possession. (1 Cor. 4:5)
Among the afflictions (humiliations) that come to them, their defeat in controversy is probably at the head of the list. Of those who have rebelled (revolutionized) against the words of God, St. Paul says, “And on this account God will send to them an energy of delusion, to their believing the falsehood [various errors which bring them severe humiliation]; in order that all those may be judged who believed not the truth, but approved the iniquity.” (2 Thess. 2:11-12, Diaglott)
God has given definite instructions for the conduct of His people and their ministry of the Truth – such as the autonomy of each ecclesia, the settlement of differences between brethren, methods of study and spread of the Truth, etc. To set aside any of these things would be to spurn “the counsel of the Most High,” considering His instructions of little worth. Some of the Lord’s people during this Epiphany have replaced the Berean method of study (Acts 17:10-11) with “textbook” methods, which is also spurning the counsel of the Most High.
During the age this has led to the erection of autocratic systems in some sects, and in loose and irresponsible conduct in others. Most of these perversions have been traceable directly to the crown‑losers, who often have been held in higher esteem by the general public than their Little Flock brethren. John Calvin, for instance, is considered to be one of the sharpest intellects of the entire age, and he readily attracted a following – so much so that he persuaded his supporters to burn at the stake Little Flock member Michael Servetus because he could not tolerate the Truth that Servetus presented.
The end of the Gospel Age is the time when “He maketh manifest.” We may definitely conclude that they who have rebelled against the sayings of God or spurned the counsel of the Most High are of the Great Company. This is the only way we have of knowing those who “received not the love [the motivating conduct] of the truth.” (2 Thess. 2:10) Such a conclusion would not be proper for any slight departure or even for some gross departures from the Truth or God’s arrangements, unless they then persist therein after the offense is clearly directed to their attention. Their conduct is not a safe guide for reaching such a conclusion because we cannot know what degree of Adamic depravity afflicts the individual, “for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7) There are some who believe that Brother Russell was the last saint; thus, by the death of a man they relegate all others out of the Little Flock by one broad judgment. Such a decision is in itself a rebelling, revolutionizing, against the words of God, because there is no Scriptural support for such a thought.
There was a time, up to about 1910 or 1912, that Brother Russell was firmly convinced that the entire Christ Company would leave the earth by the autumn of 1914. Someone once asked him if 1914 came and went, and he was still on earth, would he then conclude that he too was of the Great Company. To this he answered an emphatic, No! It was the same with the Epiphany Messenger, who thought all the saints would be glorified by the end of 1956. If someone had asked him if he would think he was of the Great Company if he were still living after 1956, his answer also would have been an emphatic, No!
Of those who actually fell from the Little Flock and were delivered to the “fit man” for buffeting experiences in the wilderness of adversity we are told: “Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness [erroneous and sinful ways] and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.” (Psa. 107:12-14) This identical thought, stated in a slightly different fashion, is found in Revelation: “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb . . . For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them [after bringing down their heart with labor], and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters [clear unadulterated Truth]: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:14,17) “For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron [enslaving erroneous practices] in sunder.” (Psa. 107:16)
FLESHLY ISRAEL DURING THE GOSPEL AGE
“Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.” (Psa. 107:17) The “transgression” for which the Jews have been afflicted is their treatment of the Messiah, when “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” (John 1:11) The “iniquities” are their many violations of the Mosaic Law, which they repeatedly did against one another and against the Prophets that Yahweh sent them. “But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts.” (Zech. 7:11-12)
For 1845 years the Jews had enjoyed the special blessings from Yahweh. “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” (Amos 3:2) The land of Canaan, which the Lord had given them, was a goodly land, with an excellent climate – a place in which it was easy to live. Their abuses of their blessings reached a climax when they rejected the Lord of Glory; and He pronounced upon them the penalty: “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Matt: 23:38-39) That day their religious house was left to them desolate; then began the fulfillment of the prophecy, “Even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee.” (Zech. 9:12) The word “double” is from the Hebrew mishneh, which means repetition. That is, they would receive a repetition of disfavor for the same length of time they had received the favor – 1845 years.
So completely was this prophecy carried out that, after the capture of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 AD, the entire Jewish religious ritual of the Aaronic priesthood was so completely demolished – desolated – that the Tribe of Levi was lost in the dispersion. This loss prevents them from now having a high priest; and any attempt to carry on as did Aaron and his successors is now an empty performance.
“Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.” (Psa. 107:18) The scourges they have received during their “double” in this Gospel Age have indeed been horrible – enough to take away their appetites, and bring them to the brink of the grave. During their stay in the land of Israel they had been very much an agricultural people; but that was no longer practical for them, because they were often forced to flee to another city or country, and they could not take their farms with them. Consequently, they were forced to become businessmen, and to keep their assets as liquid as possible – to be carried with them if they were forced to leave on short notice. On numerous occasions, during their dispersion, they employed all the ingenuity at their disposal to regain the land of their fathers. They attempted to buy it; they attempted to regain it by force; they used all the tricks of diplomacy; but to no avail. The sentence of “desolation” against them by Jesus was not lightly spoken; by the bitter dregs of experience they were to learn: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isa. 55:11)
The sentence of desolation was pronounced upon them in the year 33 AD; and, if they were to have 1845 years of disfavor – a double of their time of favor – it would bring us to the year 1878, at which time the Berlin Congress of Nations decreed for them certain rights in Palestine which were the opening wedge in their efforts to regain their homeland. Since that time they have been in what the Bible terms “Jacob’s trouble.” “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it . . . and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him.” (Jer. 30:7-8)
The trouble is to have two phases, the first part a rather mild experience. “Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them [offer enticing bait to bring them back to the land of Israel]; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity [the violations of the Mosaic Law] hid from mine eyes. And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double.” (Jer. 16:16‑18) There was good evidence of rapacious hunters in Germany during World War II; and those atrocities tended to sharpen the desire of Jews everywhere to once more have a land of their own – which was eventually realized in 1948.
Although they are now established as a nation, they are yet to experience the second phase of Jacob’s Trouble described in the prophecy of Zechariah: “Behold the day of the Lord cometh . . . I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.” (Zech. 14:1‑3) Then will be fulfilled the words of the Psalm: “Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word [the Truth about their Scriptural past, present and future], and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” (Psa. 107:19-20) After that, “They shall look on him whom they pierced.” (John 19:37; Zech. 12:10) They will then “praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men . . . [and they will] sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.” (Psa. 107:21-22)
THE WORLD DURING THE TRIBULATION
The world of mankind during and at the end of the great tribulation are “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters.” (Psa. 107: 23) During this “present evil world” the capitalistic system has been the dominating economic force, doing business through “great waters.” “For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind [the wind of Rev. 7:1], which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.” (Psa. 107:25-26) In the literal ocean it is wind that produces roaring waves, which roll high, thus making huge deep clefts in between them. This is indeed a vivid illustration of what the symbolic wind, the First World War, did in 1914. Although the United States was not involved then, the New York stock market received such a jolt that it closed for three months after August 1, 1914. That trouble did truly dissolve the souls of the market traders, who had no way to buy or sell on that exchange.
The World War in 1914 was the greatest calamity in history up to that time; but the rolling waves have continued to make “depths,” each being lower and more severe than the previous. When the market crash came in 1929, it brought on the depression of 1930‑32; and the “depth” of those years probably caused more distress than did the years 1914‑1918, because it was wider in scope, and brought distress upon more people – although probably not as many deaths as did the war.
Next came the rolling waves and depths of the 1939‑1945 period, which was a much deeper calamity than the 1914‑1918 or the 1930‑1932 distresses. The waves rolled higher, and the depths were much deeper than any previous episode. One man from England, who had been there during 1914‑1918, and who still had relatives in that country, said at the outbreak of the conflict in 1939 that he felt like lying down in the gutter and weeping. When the German army overran Belgium in 1940 they defeated an opposing army of two million men. It was described by writers at that time as the most destructive battle in all history. The roaring waves, caused by the tempestuous wind, rolled higher and deeper than ever before.
Just ahead is the next period of rolling waves and roaring depths – Armageddon, which will prove even more severe than any of the previous happenings since 1914; and this will shortly be followed by Anarchy, which will be worst of all, ending in Jacob’s Trouble, and the destruction of all existing institutions.
After the great tribulation has fully accomplished the dissolution of present elements this will come: “Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.” (Psa. 107:28-29) Then, “Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.” (Psa. 107:32) The word “elders” in this text is from the Hebrew zaqen, which is the same word that is translated “old men” in Joel 2:28. Thus, the “assembly of the elders” here means the Ancient Worthies who will be sending forth the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem – after the tribulation has passed. (See Isa. 2:3) The world will then have learned through excruciating experience what they could not learn by instruction.
THE MILLENNIUM AND LITTLE SEASON
“He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.” (Psa. 107:33-34) Here the restitution class during the Millennium is brought to our attention. The rivers which are turned into a wilderness and the watersprings into dry ground are the streams and fountains of Babylon. They will be utterly dried up in the Kingdom time. Though a fruitful land in some respects to its inhabitants, God is going to devastate it.
In its place the people will be given the true knowledge of God. “He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase. He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.” (Psa. 107:35-38) The 35th Chapter of Isaiah is a beautiful companion text for this Psalm: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” (Isa. 35:1)
The trial in the Little Season, at the end of the Millennial Age, is then brought to our attention: “Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow. He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.” (Psa. 107:39-40) All of the restored world of mankind will be thoroughly tested by the affliction and oppression which Satan and his underlings will bring upon them. God will pour out His contempt upon those who are unfaithful. These were on the way to becoming kings of the earth, and hence are mentioned as princes. They will be caused to wander into the symbolic wilderness, the Second Death, where there is no way, such as God’s people have to follow. They will go into utter annihilation.
“Yet setteth he the poor [the humble] on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.” (Psa. 107:41) These are the “sheep” class who will stand amid the temptation which Satan will bring at the end of the Millennium. They will be the blessed of the Father who will be given the earthly dominion. (Matt. 25:34) It is at this time that evil will become eternally inactive, for we are told, “All iniquity shall stop her mouth.” (Psa. 107:42)
The last verse of the Psalm is a summation: “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.” (Psa. 107:43) The “lovingkindness of the Lord” is His great Plan of Salvation for the human race. He who is wise to understand this Psalm here in the end of the age will have a clear understanding of the entire Plan. The wise are the same as those mentioned by the Prophet Daniel, when he says that in the time of the end the wise would understand: “None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” (Dan. 12:10) None could understand before that time, no matter how learned or pious they were. But it is to those wise in the wisdom of the Lord, especially here in the Epiphany period, that the understanding of these things is given.
This wisdom surely does help them to see and understand the lovingkindness of the Lord. God is continually showering His blessings upon us, since every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, from the Father of lights. (Jas. 1:17) All our gifts of heavenly affections, all our gifts of the graces in growth, in strengthening, in balancing and in crystallization, are gifts from Him. All our encouraging and restraining providences are gifts from Him. Our opportunities of service, our trials and tests, our chastisements, our privileges of enduring persecution for truth, righteousness and holiness, and all our victories over the devil, the flesh and the world as to sin, error, selfishness, worldliness and the dying process, as well as our prospective victory over the grave, are gifts of our Father’s love. These call upon us to thank our Father as the Source and our Lord Jesus as the Agent of their bestowal. Therefore, we should exhort our souls to give thanks to them.
Let the Little Flock give thanks; let the Great Company give thanks; let the Youthful Worthies give thanks; let the faith-justified give thanks; let Fleshly Israel give thanks; and let the Ancient Worthies and the world of mankind in the Millennium give thanks. Let their thanks come from pure dispositions, thoughts and motives, expressed in fitting words and responsive works. The Source and Agent are worthy of gratitude and the recipients of their gifts are unfit to receive them unless they are grateful.
“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever!” (Psa. 107:1)
(Derived from Brother Hoefle’s paper No. 338, August 1983 and Brother Johnson’s article from The Present Truth No. 383, November 1950)
QUESTION OF GENERAL INTEREST
Question: Who are meant when it is said, “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven”? (Matt. 8:11)
Answer: As already pointed out in the Studies in the Scriptures series, the Gospel Church only will constitute the Kingdom in its highest and strictest sense; but Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the Ancient Worthies will be the chief ministers of that Kingdom in the world of mankind, and all mankind will be invited to come into harmony with the spiritual Kingdom, that God’s will may be done in this, as an earthly class, as it is done in the heavenly class. In this sense of the word, all who shall accept of the terms and conditions of the Kingdom will sit down, or be at rest and at peace with God, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the faithful of the earthly class. Thus it will be seen that the Lord is pointing to a large class of the world of mankind who will ultimately become citizens of the earthly phase of the Kingdom. This same thought is represented in Revelation, where it is intimated that all the worthy will enter into the city – the Kingdom – while without will be all the unworthy, who love and serve sin, subjects of the Second Death. (Rev. 22:14-15)
(From Reprint 3457)
 When “Lord” appears in all capital letters, as it does in this Psalm, we know it is from the tetragrammaton YHWH or YHVH in the original Hebrew Bible. It represents the proper name of the Almighty Father and not just a title. Although we quote from the King James Version here, we refer readers to the Rotherham translation where the name “Yahweh” is used throughout this Psalm.
 Such as by filling the Epiphany Camp with consecrated ones outside the linen curtain of Christ, and deceiving them into believing they will have the preeminence in the Kingdom in superiority to the Jews.
 Brother Hoefle witnessed the rioting in Detroit in 1967 and the immense destruction it produced. He commented at the time that once Armageddon topples over the present governments, it will not be very long until Anarchy follows.