PSALM 108 TALK: A RENEWED PRAISE OF THE LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS OF GOD

PSALM 108 TALK: A RENEWED PRAISE OF THE LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS OF GOD

 (A Psalm that uses two of David’s previous Psalms or parts of them to make a renewed praise for the love and faithfulness of God for his people in the context of further problems with the old Israelite enemy Edom.)

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INTRODUCTION

 It never ceases to amaze me that over the many years I have been a Christian the bible continually becomes alive to me in so many ways. Passages of scripture that I have read and even studied many times before look different or rather speak to me in a different way according to my life context. That seems to be the key, my life context because God’s word reveals different aspects of that word to what I am experiencing and thinking about at that time I am reading it and reflecting on it.

I’m not advocating that our experience in life determines the truth we read but rather the truth in God’s word stands firm and unshakable and my experience of life led by the Holy Spirit helps to inform me of God’s truth in his word and even more so how that truth applies to my life and faith at that time. This in turn helps me to be able to share with others that truth in God’s word to help them in their lives and faith in God.

A dear friend expressed it this way to me the other day when she said whatever I am going through or thinking about for sure will be the very thing I will read about in my daily bible reading or will be what the minister preaches on at church or will be the very thing I need to consider through discussion and the reading of God’s word in my weekly bible study group. She added this she believes is the way God is speaking to her in her day-to-day life.

This experience of God’s word speaking to us in the context of our daily life is the main idea behind the original creation of Psalm 108 as Psalm 108 is made up of two almost direct quotes of portions of two previous Psalms of David. Verses 1 – 5 is almost a direct quote of Psalm 57: 7 – 11 while Psalm 108 verses 6 – 13 is almost a direct quote from Psalm 60: 5 – 12. The differences are so minor in most cases they do not deserve commenting on.

These two almost direct quotes might seem a strange combination except for one interesting fact both of the David Psalms deal with God’s loving salvation or deliverance from his enemies and Psalm 60 deals particularly with the salvation or deliverance from the old enemy Edom.

Edom features from the time of the Wilderness wanderings of God’s people to the fall of Jerusalem and even the return of the Jews to the Promised Land as a constant aggressive enemy of God’s people.

If Psalm 108 was written after the return from exile in Babylon, which its placement in the fifth book of Psalms suggests then the context of, this new revised Psalm is problems with Edom during the Babylonian conquering of Jerusalem and further problems with people from Edom when the Jews returned from their Babylonian exile.

We have three key bible references that shed light on this possible context of Psalm 108 if it was written either before or after the Babylonian exile of the Jews.

The first deals with people from Edom during the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem probably men from Edom who were constricted into the Babylonian army that conquered Jerusalem and that reference is Psalm 137: 7,

“Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. “Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!”

These men from Edom, possibly part of the Babylonian army were carrying out what the old saying says, “they were kicking a man while he was down”. They were gloating over the terrible fate of their old enemy Israel and egging on the total destruction of Jerusalem and its people”.

The second reference comes some years later when the Jews returned from exile in Babylon and we find it in the words of the prophet Malachi who was writing about further problems with Edom who of course in the bible descended from Jacobs twin bother Esau.

“I have loved you,” says the Lord. “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.” Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.” But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord. You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’

 Malachi writing during the time of the return from exile would have only mentioned the Edomites as wicked people and people under God’s wrath or judgment because they in some way or another represented a threat to the struggling nation of returning exiles from Babylon and other parts of the world.

Psalm 108 by picking on the passage of verses 5 – 12 of Psalm 60 is pointing to problems from the old enemy of Edom, which David wrote about hundred’s of years before when he was threatened by Edom himself.

The third and final possible reference to problems with Edom before or after the return from exile in Babylon is the short but powerful prophecy of Obadiah which deals exclusively with God’s condemnation of Edom again written around the time of the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem or even after the return from Babylonian exile. Four verses stand out in that prophecy, verses 11 – 14,

“On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.12 You should not gloat over your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble.13 You should not march through the gates of my people in the day of their disaster ,nor gloat over them in their calamity in the day of their disaster, nor seize their wealth in the day of their disaster.14 You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, nor hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble”.

Again an obvious reference to Edom’s involvement in Jerusalem’s destruction by the Babylonians. For this God’s judgment would fall on this nation for this attitude of the people from Edom continued when the Jews returned from exile in Babylon.

So I aim now to restate much of what I taught in Psalms 57: 7 – 11 and 60: 5 – 12 in the context of the fall of Jerusalem and the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon when they had ongoing problems from their old enemy, Edom. In the context of that time period will give us a better understanding of what Psalm 108 originally said to it original hearers of readers and then we will look at what this Psaln has to say to us.

My context will be the many enemies of Christians today who like the people from Edom boldly gloat over Christians as they persecute them. I will promote how I believe Jesus wants us to love them to maybe help them into his Kingdom but I will not draw back from the biblical fact that in the end those who have not repented of their sins will face God’s judgment at the end of the Gospel age which we are currently live in.

With this in mind my outline for this Psalm is:

  1. (1 – 4)   RENEWING OUR PRAISE FOR GOD’S LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS

 

  1. (vs. 1a)   Be faithful to God
  2. (1b – 3)   Worship God with music
  3. (4 – 5)   Recognize God’s love that saves us

 

  1. (6 – 9)   GOD’S PROMISE OF SALVATION

 

  1. (vs. 7)     The call for salvation
  2. (8 – 9)     God’s answer for the call for salvation

 

  1. (10 – 13) CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S ABILITY TO SAVE US

 

  1. (10 – 11) Looking to God for salvation from our enemies
  2. (vs. 12)   A reminder of what not trusting God for salvation leads to
  3. (vs. 13)   Salvation relies on trusting in God.

 

  1. (1 – 4)   RENEWING OUR PRAISE FOR GOD’S LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS

 

  1. (vs. 1a)   Be faithful to God

Psalm 57 was written when David ran from the evil intent of Saul and that led him to two caves, the first in a place called Adullam in 1 Samuel 22: 1 -2 and the second a few years later recorded in 1 Samuel 24 where David is hiding in a cave in the desert area of “En Gedi” and Saul enters to go to the toilet. Here David spares the life of Saul and cuts off a small piece of his clothing.

The first cave story fits well with Psalm 56 because it is the event that follows the event that inspired Psalm 56. The second story fits better because it could help explain the name of David’s tune called in the Hebrew heading to Psalm 57 that says, “Do not destroy”. It is in the cave in the desert of “En Gadi” that David decides not to kill his enemy, Saul, which could easily be described by the words, “Do not destroy”.

I am not convinced on either these alternatives but lean towards the second cave because it also helps explain some aspects of the teaching of the Psalm namely, “The Love and faithfulness of God”.

The other answer is David left the explanation of the situation vague enough so we can think of both situations when he and other people are singing the Psalm and when people like us are studying it.

God primarily desires from us three things when we face difficulties like those caused by our enemies or those who oppose us because we dare to continue to trust and believe in the God of the bible. The first thing God desires in our response God great love and faithfulness is our simple heartfelt love and faithfulness to him. This is what David expresses in verse 7a of Psalm 57 and verse 1 a of Psalm 108,

“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast”.

 David had experienced yet another miraculous escape from the evil clutches of Saul and realized yet again God had treated him with great love and faithfulness and so he now prays a prayer of praise in which he tells God what he intends to now do.

The writer of Psalm 108 can relate to this as well because he and his people had just be saved by God out of captivity in Babylon and were delivered to their much loved homeland of Israel.

 The word “steadfast” is another word for faithful. It is translated by different versions of the bible as, King James Version, “Fixed”, new living Translation, “Confident” and International Standard version, and “Committed”. So God wants from our hearts our honest and committed faithfulness.

Inspired by what God has done for us in his acts of love and faithfulness should lead to an attitude of love and faithfulness in us. In Matthew 22: 36, Jesus was asked by a Jewish expert of the Law, “which is the greatest commandment in the law?”

Jesus answer is found in verses 37 – 40,

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

This is what Jesus said God wants from us but of course in our sinful fallen state of hatred and unfaithfulness we cannot do it. However the bible teaches that we can only love God because he first loved us.

The apostle John taught this in his first letter written to counter heretical teaching of his day. In the passage that followers the one I quoted in the last section, 1 John 3: 16 – 19, he spells out how we can love God,

 “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us”.

 So the first response we should have for the love and faithfulness God has for us is our love and faithfulness to him”.

So the writer of Psalm 108 can relate to David’s opening statement of Psalm 57,

“My heart is steadfast, O God”

 Our writer / editor ha just experienced the great love and faithfulness of God because of God’s hand of Salvation or deliverance in freeing him and his people out captivity in Babylon.

We can be steadfast in God because we know through the Lord Jesus Christ that we are saved from the consequences of sin and are now free to serve God as his special children led by God himself as Paul states clearly in Romans 5: 1 – 2,

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

  1. (1b – 3)   Worship God with music

The second response God wants from us to his love and faithfulness which David experienced in his narrow escape from the clutches of his enemy King Saul is resolve to worship God in the best way he know how to. For David this meant singing and making music as he says in Psalm 7b

“I will sing and make music”

 and Psalm 108 1b.

“I will sing and make music with all my soul”.

 There has been many weird and sadly misguided Christians in the past and present times who have been anti – music but these Christians have somehow failed to see the bible teaching on the use of music in the meeting of Christians both to worship God and to edify those who are involved in it.

Paul teaches a right use of music in corporate Christian gatherings in Ephesians 5: 18 – 20,

 “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

 In the next verse of Psalm 57 and Psalm 108 David seems to rouse himself to get going in worship using music,

“Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn”. Psalm 57: 8

And, “Awake, harp and lyre I will awaken the dawn”.

This seems to be a strange thing to say, speaking to his harp and lyre to wake up like they are living beings. However we must remember David is writing poetry and the image he is seeking to convey is best describe for me by Spurgeon when he writes,

Let all the music with which I am familiar be well attuned for the hallowed service of praise. I myself will awake early. I will awake the dawn with my joyous notes.

No sleepy verses and weary notes shall be heard from me; I will thoroughly arouse myself for this high employ”.

 Note the editor / writer of Psalm 108 has slightly changed the original wording of David’s Psalm 57 but the change has no bearing of what David was originally saying.

 Sometimes we give God our second best or even worse when we come together in worship of our God. David wanted to give his best and finest music to the Lord in worship of him who loved him so much.

Dreary and emotionless worship just does not figure in the mind of David as he wants to wake everyone up with praise and song. I have attended highly emotionally charged worship services and sadly felt let down because the people around me have been shallow in their faith. On the other hand I have attended dead and emotionless worship services as well that equally have left me let down and disappointed. We need to give God our best music, our best thoughts, our best attitudes and our best emotions when we worship him.

Paul spoke of the principles of worship of God inspired and directed by the Gospel message in Romans 12: 1 and 2 and wrote,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”.

 So much of our modern worship is dominated by shallow worship practices that fail to plumb the depths of God through his word. Our music can also lack solid theological thought at the expense of sounding good as the pattern of this world often determines.

David’s worship and praise was in no way shallow as we can see from verse 9 of Psalm 57 and vs. 3 of Psalm 108 which says,

“I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples”.

 David wants the whole world to know about his God and particularly about how his God is a God of love and faithfulness as the next refrain verse expresses so well,

“For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches the skies”.

 Leopold points out that David could not be taken literally here as he had no chance in his day of travelling the world and singing God’s praise to every nation. Leopold explains the two things David meant by this,

“1. The praise deserves to be known among the nations.

 And 2. Wherever an opportunity presented itself in his contacts with the nations or their representatives David was not slow in attributing his deliverances to the faithful God of Israel”.

 For us world wide travel is not hard and is quite affordable and I can say that I have had the opportunity of praising God among many nations of the earth and have even sang his praises to many peoples of the world today and for this I give thanks and praise to God who alone has made this possible.

It has also been a joy to sit or stand with people singing God’s praises in their native tongues and sensing the wonderful bond of cross cultural Christian fellowship and unity.

Our God deserves our praise indeed and we must take every opportunity do join with other like minded believers and put David’s words on world wide worship and praise in to practice. However we must always seek to keep the central message and theme of that praise, namely the love and faithfulness of our God as we see him in his revealed word and through our wonderful experience of him in our every day lives.

Paul both practiced and promoted this fellowship of praise as you can see in his word to the early Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 1: 4 – 9,

“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”.

So the writer of Psalm 108 when he read David’s Psalm calling on him to worship God with music with all his soul would have been inspired to go to the re-built temple in Jerusalem and join with other recently saved or delivered Jews to worship God with great joy and music and the description of worship in Jerusalem in the post return from Babylon generation seems to reflect lots of music and incredible enthusiasm as the following two references in Nehemiah 12, first verses 31 – 35,

“I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks. One was to proceed on top of the wall to the right, toward the Dung Gate. 32 Hoshaiah and half the leaders of Judah followed them, 33 along with Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34 Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, 35 as well as some priests with trumpets, and also Zechariah son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zakkur, the son of Asaph”.

Then verse 43,

 “And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away”.

Now that’s loud, enthusiastic, musical worship that would be hard to find in many of our churches today.

  1. (4 – 5)   Recognize God’s love that saves us

The third and final response David wants to give God for his love and faithfulness shown in his salvation or deliverance he believes God gave him and God gives us in Christ and his death and resurrection for us is to actually to recognize his glorious Lordship.

Besides the great message of God’s great love and faithfulness the number one message we should be presenting to the world is the Lordship of God in Christ.

David lived 700 years before Christ so his message was simply the Lordship of God as expressed in verse 11 of Psalm 57 and verse 5 of Psalm 108.

Which simply says,

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over the earth”.

David is telling us in this use of the refrain that his God is the Lord or King of heaven and earth and we can see his glory in all the earth.

This is yet another right way of responding to the love and faithfulness of God and in the New Testament the Lordship of Christ is central to being saved by him and therefore in being part of his Kingdom. As Paul states in Romans 10: 9 – 13,

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame. For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

So David has seen his God save him out of the cave of Adullam and the cave in the desert of “En Gadi”. David’s escapes from both of these two death traps happened because of God’s great love and faithfulness. David makes this clear twice in this Psalm and the second expression of the words I call a refrain is in verse 10 of Psalm 57 and verse 4 of Psalm 108,

“For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies”.

 This has been David’s inspired theme of Psalm 57 and continues as the main theme of Psalm 108. A teaching that states truths about God that no other religion has dared to declare. This is a theme seen even clearer and stronger in the New Testament where we learn that God sent his Son into this world to show us his love and faithfulness through his death on the cross.

Paul lived and breathed this great message and even as he neared the end of his life and ministry on this earth he wrote to his younger prodigy Timothy and in his last letter to Timothy he wrote these words in 2 Timothy 2: 8 – 13,

“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal.

But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, We will also live with him; if we

endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, For he cannot disown himself”.

 So how would this inspired words of Psalm 57 by David been seen by the writer or editor writer of Psalm 108?

If this writer / editor lived after the return from exile then he would have seen David’ description of God’s love and faithfulness being so great as a wonderful expression of what God had done for him and his people in saving them out of a long and terrible captivity in Babylonian exile. David’s words would have been so appropriate then for him and his fellow Jews.

These words of David also found in the edited Psalm of Psalm 108 are also to me wonderful words of how great God love and faithfulness is to me in realizing what God has done for me in saving me through the amazing work of Jesus Christ in his life and death for me and inspired me to write a song I have sang many times for a few years now which has the chorus that says,

God’s love and faithfulness

In Jesus we see

God’s love and faithfulness

He’s always with me.

  1. (6 – 9)   GOD’S PROMISE OF SALVATION

 

  1. (vs. 7)     The call for salvation

The writer / editor of Psalm 108 then jumps from Psalm 57: 7 – 11 to Psalm 60: 5 – 12 in his final seven verses of his new Psalm, Psalm 108. Psalm 60 has a completely different context and I will now give you my introduction to Psalm 60 from that Psalm talk.

“Psalm 60 verse 10 reads,

 “Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us and no longer go out with our armies”?

 While Psalm 44 verse 9 reads,

 But now you have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies”.

 I think that Psalm 60 David’s version of Psalm 44 written by the Sons of Korah. This means that the possible historical setting of both Psalms is David’s war with his northern Assyrian neighbors and Joab’s battles with his easterly Edomite neighbors.

The Edomite conflict of David’s time is very interesting because it is presented in two bible references and the second indicates that for a time Israel’s forces did not do so well.

 The first reference to this conflict is 2 Samuel 8: 13 :

“And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went”.

 This sounds like David had a fairly straightforward victory over the Edomites but the second reference sheds a little light on how David’s victory played its way out. It is a reference to this conflict in David’s time by a conflict Solomon had with the Edomites in his time. It is found in 1Kings 11: 15,

 “Earlier when David was fighting with Edom, Joab the commander of the army, who had gone up to bury the dead, had struck down all the men in Edom. Joab and all the Israelites stayed there for six months, until they had destroyed all the men in Edom”.

 The reference to Joab going up to Edom to “bury the dead” indicates that at first forces from Israel had suffered a major defeat. Also note how it took Joab and his men six months to have total victory over the Edomites”.

Psalm 44 could have been written at the time when the news of Israel’s defeat reached Jerusalem and the horror of the Nation trusting in God being defeated by their enemies caused one of the sons of Korah to write his Psalm, Psalm 44.

While Psalm 60 was written around the same time in the same historical context by David maybe when he was still off fighting his northern Assyrian neighbors which is indicated by what is said in the Hebrew heading for Psalm 60.

The other interesting detail is that the victory over the soldiers from Edom in the Valley of Salt is attributed to David in the 2 Samuel passage and Joab in the 1 Kings passage and Psalm 60 Hebrew heading while it is attributed to Abishai in a 1 Chronicles 18: 12 verse. Leopold gives the answer to this,

“David was the commander – in – chief in charge of all operations; Joab was very likely delegated to take care of the Edomite campaign; Abishai served under him”.

 There is a discrepancy of the number killed in the Valley of salt with 12,000 in the Psalm 60 Hebrew heading and 18,000 in 2 Samuel 8 passage but this could be simply a minor manuscript copying mistake.

So interestingly the writer / editor of the new Psalm, Psalm 108 chose a portion of the earlier Psalm of David, Psalm 60 which was written in the context of a defeat by the Edomites. Also the section of Psalm 60 he chose was the specific section that deals with David’s call to save them from the hands of enemies like the Edomites and certainly the last part of that section deals directly with God’s victory for David over Edom.

Why did the writer of Psalm 108 choose this section of Psalm 60 for the second part of his new Psalm, Psalm 108?

I have suggested in my introduction that it was the problems this writer believed he and his people had with Edom during the conquest of Jerusalem and the further problems with Edom after the Jews returned from exile that led our writer of Psalm 108 to choose this portion of David’s original Psalm 60.

So David in the middle section of Psalm 60 starts with a call to God to save them from the hand of his enemies and in Psalm 60 verse 5 and verse 6 of Psalm 108 we read,

“Save us and help us with your right hand”

This is a remarkable prayer of faith typical of David’s prayers in the book of Psalms many times in the first book of Psalms we read words like Psalm 30: 1 – 3,

“I will exalt you O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O Lord, you brought me up from the grave, you spared me from going down into the pit”.

 All of David’s prayers or calls to God for help come in the context of very difficult circumstances and I have made the point many times that this is because of what God told David would happen to him and his followers in Psalm 2: 2,

“The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and his anointed one”.

 David I believe had to pray this prayer because when he was off fighting nations to the north taking a stand against them he was attacked from the east by the Nation of Edom. Not only that a later reference to this time and the words of the start of this Psalm indicate Israel because of some kind of sin had suffered an awful defeat at the hands of the Nation of Edom.

Now David calls for salvation and help from the right hand of God. In most ancient cultures the right hand was a symbol of a Kings power and authority and this comes from the fact that the right hand is usually the most powerful and important hand of the two we have. “Got questions? Org web site says this about the right hand of God,

“The term “God’s right hand” in prophecy refers to the Messiah to whom is given the power and authority to subdue his enemies”.

 This idea of the right hand belonging to the coming of the Messiah is beautifully spoken about by Paul as having been for filled in Jesus Christ in Ephesians 1: 18 – 21,

“ I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come”.

 The second half of verse of Psalm 60 and verse 6 of Psalm 108 reads,

“That those you love may be delivered”.

 Michael Wilcock aptly writes,

“Those God temporarily rejected (vs.1) are still those he loves (vs.5)”

 We might desert or attempt to desert God but God will not desert us even if for a time he might discipline us for our sins by appearing to have deserted us.

This is what happened eventually to Israel when for 70 years they went into exile under the Babylonians and this could be yet another reason why this part of Psalm 60 was chosen by our writer / editor of Psalm 108 who probably lived at the end of this captivity exile and also lived to see God’s loving deliverance of his people from Babylonian exile. .

Even in the Babylonian exile God was still with his people and loved them as we see in scriptures like the Book of Daniel and Ezekiel. Ezekiel speaks of God’s restoration of the nation of Israel in Ezekiel 37: 21 – 23,

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God”.

 So God always had a faithful remnant of true believers, who David calls here in verse 5 of Psalm 60 and verse 6 of Psalm 108,

“Those you love” or “beloved of God”.

The New Testament uses the term “Beloved” to describe God’s people and clearly teaches that we didn’t love God but rather God loved us and this comes out clearly in a passage like 1John 4: 7 – 12,

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us”.

 So the beloved of God are the people God loves and they show they are loved of God by the way they respond to God with love. David knew God loved him and he responded with love for God.

Finally here the promise is that those who are loved by God will be delivered. The full quote from Michael Wilcock I started to quote at the beginning of this section actually says,

“Those God temporarily rejected (vs.1) are still those he loves (vs.5). To their words of prayer he responds with words of promise”.

 These words of promise start at the end of verse 5 in Psalm 60 and in verse 6 in Psalm 108 and fully blossom in the next three verses.

  1. (8 – 9)     God’s answer for the call for salvation

The words of promise are again God breaking into the Psalm and speaking directly to us. We saw the first example of this in an earlier Psalm of David, Psalm 12: 5,

“Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise, says the Lord, ‘I will protect them from those who malign them”.

 The expression,

“God has spoken from his sanctuary”

 Is a bit of a puzzle to understand but I like Derk Kinder’s explanation of what it possibly means,

“The scene of a festival such as in Deuteronomy 31: 10ff)”

 The Deuteronomy passage Kidner quotes is called “The Feast of Tabernacles” which took place every seven years.

So maybe this revelation from God actually took place during one of these festival occasions. The sure fact is that the content of this revelation from God is nothing short of the original promise of God to Abraham about the land his descendents would inherit.

Psalm 60: 6 and Psalm 108: 7 says,

“In triumph I will parcel out Shechem”

 Genesis 12: 6 and 7 says,

“Abram travelled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘to your offspring I will give this land. So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him”.

 Later Jacob, Abrahams grandson journeys across this promise land from Succoth which is one side of the Jordon to Shechem which is on the other side it, which we read about in Genesis 33: 17 – 20,

“Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth.

After Jacob came from Paddan Aram, he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan and camped within sight of the city. For a hundred pieces of silver, he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of ShechemEl , the plot of ground where he pitched his tent. There he set up an altar and called it Elohe Israel.

 Leupold sums up the significance of what God is saying here and in the next two verses as,

“This is a free adaptation of God’s promises to the nation which he made in various forms and ways throughout the whole of the Pentateuch (first five books of the bible)”.

 Therefore God is saying to David and Israel that he gave them their land and he will help them keep it by his triumph over the people who live in it.

The next two verses make this clear as God spells out his Lordship over the people who live in the promised land and his triumph over those who are not his people.

Verse 7 mentions 4 tribes of Israel:

“Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter”

1. Gilead – is simply called, “mine” which literally means God has dominion over it or over them. The tribes of Gad and Reuben inhabited the area known as Gilead.

2. Manasseh – is also simply called “mine” – Like the previous verse indicated with Succoth and Shechem as places God had triumph over in that region. Now the tribes of Israel that are on both sides of the Jordon are spoken of and God says he has dominion over them.

3. Ephraim is called “my helmet” – Gilead (where the tribes of Gad and Reuben dwell) and Manasseh which are tribes of Israel to the east of the Jordon while Ephraim and Judah are to the west but Ephraim is seen as strategically important with the term “helmet” being given them as it held the central position of the western side of the Jordan next to Judah. For this reason like a helmet protects the vital part of the body, the head, so Ephraim protected Judah and in doing so all of Israel.

4.  Judah – is simply called “My Scepter” – Which is simply a term for ruler or in this context God’s ruling tribe. Some commentators believe “My Scepter” should be translated “My lawgiver” but this too simply means God’s tribe from which God’s rule or law is administered from.

While verse 8 of Psalm 60 and verse 9 of Psalm 108 mentions 3 Nations:

Moab is my washbasin, upon Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph”.

  1. Moab – is simply called “my washbasin” – The Pulpit commentary explains this term well with these words,

“ ‘My washbasin’, a term of extreme contempt. The subjugation of Moab was prophesied by Balaam (Numbers 24: 17), and effected by David (2 Samuel 8: 2)”

2. Edom – is simply described by God as, “”I toss my sandal” – Ellicot in his commentary explains the meaning of this term with these words,

“The most natural explanation of this figure is that Edom is disgraced to the character of the slave to whom the conqueror tosses his sandals that they may be cleaned”.

 Remember it was Edom who had caused the original crisis for David’s cry for salvation. Now God says they are no more than slaves he tosses his dirty sandals at them to be cleaned by them.

3.  Philistia – is simply described by God as, “I shout in triumph” – This term again is simply saying that God like the other nations will triumph over this nation. This prophecy of God triumphed over Philistia was for filled in David’s time through David himself. We read of this in 2 Samuel 8: 1,

“In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines”.

So God’s special direct speaking in the previous three verses speak clearly of how he is the Sovereign Lord of the nations and this points us back to that central theme of both books one and two of the Psalms which is expressed clearly in Psalm 2: 2 – 6,

“The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

 What would all this excellent teaching from David’s original Psalm 60 say to our writer of Psalm 108 who we believe lived during and after the Jews captivity exile in Babylon?

So even though our editor / writer of Psalm 108 would have been well aware that eleven of the original tribes of Israel were gone and only maybe a handful of those lost tribes would have returned to the Promise Land after the Babylonian exile he still would have realised that God’s promise to Abraham and Jacob who became Israel of the land between Shechem and Succoth would be for their descendants was again a reality in his day.

He would have been from the tribe of Judah who was given God’s scepter the ruling tribe and the one who God’s law would be administered by.

He also would have taken to heart the direct word of God concerning that old and current enemy of Edom who God calls the one who I toss my sandal are nothing more in God’s site disgraced slaves.

So Psalm 60 in the context of our writer’s time would have spoken to him in a variety of ways on a variety of levels.

What does this portion of Psalm 60 say to us in our context of Christians living in the early part of the 21st Century?

I think we can draw three applications for us today from these verses:

1.We must realize that whenever we read in the Old Testament about God having dominion over another nation we are looking at the Sovereign rule of God over everything including the Nations of this world. Paul speaks of how Jesus is the Sovereign Lord of everything and how we must relate to this in Ephesians 1: 18 – 23,

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way”.

2. We must also realize that we like David and his people are God’s chosen  people who the world hates and opposes. We are according to Peter in 1 Peter 2: 11 are,

“Aliens and strangers in the world”

 And therefore like Christ who is the one true great-anointed king of God the non- believers of this world who are en- powered by Satan and his evil forces will oppose us. However even though we are caught up in this great and terrible spiritual battle we need to look to God for the ability to fight victoriously in this battle as Paul says in Ephesians 6: 10 – 11,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”.

3. Finally even though the Old Testament spoke of victory over actual nations of this world the New Testament teaches that we are no longer involved in a battle of nation against nation but we are involved in a far greater spiritual battle as Paul goes on to speak of in Ephesians 6: 12,

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

A big mistake some Christians made in the past was that they like the extreme Muslims today thought that God called them to a Holy War against un-believing people in this world. This is not in the bible and is a distortion of the Old testaments teaching without properly coming to terms with what the New Testament teaches about how God wants us to conduct ourselves in this Gospel age that started after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ and the sending to all believers the Holy Spirit.

An interesting passage we have been looking at lately at the Church I attend sets up I believe the way God wants Christians to operate in the Gospel age we are also part of. It is the final words of Jesus to his disciples in Acts 1: 4 – 8,

“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 Just to make sure we do not miss understand what Jesus wants us to be involved in unto he comes again to end this Gospel age we have Matthews recollection of Jesus last commands to his disciples in Matthew 28: 18 – 20,

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

3. (10 – 13) CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S ABILITY TO SAVE US

  1. (10 – 11) Looking to God for salvation from our enemies

 “Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?

 David had to pray this prayer for help to defeat the Edomites because for some reason the first campaign against them was unsuccessful because of some kind of sin within his nation or in the army that fought them. Now in verse 10 David again speaks of how restoration to deliverance relies totally on God,

“Is it not you, O God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies?”

 This is a reminder of what not trusting in God for deliverance leads to namely defeat and despair. Derek Kidner points out that God’s restoration to deliverance is,

“Not taken for granted, the humbling lesson of God’s withdrawal is frankly faced”.

 As Christians we too must not take God’s work of salvation in our lives for granted. Paul speaks strongly on this Philippians 3: 12 – 14,

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.

Even this pressing on is a work of God in our lives as Paul speaks of in the previous chapter of Philippians, Philippians 2: 12 – 13,

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to full fill his good purpose”.

Notice how Paul speaks of God is at work in us as we are working on securing our salvation, which comes from him in the first place. Humanly speaking I cannot fully explain this but this is part of the mystery of God’s wonderful work of salvation in the lives of those being saved.

To the writer / editor of Psalm 108 theses two verses would have been a reminder to him that he must trust in God alone for his people’s salvation and proof of that would have been all so real as he had seen how God saved his people out of captivity exile in Babylon.

He also would had burning in his mind what being rejected by God would be like as he and the Jews who returned from exile knew they were only there because they had turned away from God and in the day of the conquest of Jerusalem,

“God no longer went out with his armies” (vs. 11)

 If we are not looking to God for our salvation we have no defence in the battles of life. I was reminded a few weeks back of what facing evil without truly trusting in God would be like when in church we had a bible reading from Acts 19 and I was fascinated by the story of some non – believing in Jesus Jews in Ephesus tried to use the name of Paul and Jesus to cast out evil spirits, then in verse 15 and 16 we heard read this,

15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding”.

Without God we are powerless and only in God are we saved through the Lord Jesus Christ. 

  1. (vs. 12)   A reminder of what not trusting God for salvation leads to

Then we read in verse 12 these amazing words,

“Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless”.

 David is recognizing here how much he and us need God’s help to be saved or delivered particularly from the powerful enemies we face in this life. David knew that when his first army came up against the forces of Edom they failed miserably and now in his prayer for restoration to deliverance he recognizes how he is totally dependant on God.

His army found out the hard way that

“The help of man is worthless”

 and so he prays for God’s aid. The fact that there is little reference to this first defeat in the historical records and the record of the resounding defeat of the Edomites in three places in the bible reveals that in the long run the defeat of the first force alluded to in 1Kings 11: 15 was only a minor set back for Israel.

Obviously at the time of the writing of Psalm 44, by the Son of Korah and Psalm, 60 by David this defeat by the Edomites at the time was very real and painful. However through the Psalm and particularly the counsel of King David the people must have turned to God for deliverance.

The result of a resounding defeat of the second army of Israel led by Joab and under him Abishai against the Edomites would have been a real boost to the faith of the people of that time and would have brought home to them the fact of David’s words of,

The help of man is worthless”.

In terms of Psalm 108 this reminder of how God dealt with Edom in former times would have been a great encouragement to them when they were experiencing trouble from the Edomites in their day.

I still painfully remember my own falling away from God in my mid teenage years ago and how I believed that so far as God was concerned I had blown it because I had walked away from God. However I learnt from wise Christian council as I came back to the Lord that my salvation did not depend on my obedience or anything else I could offer God but the fact is our contribution or efforts to save us is as David puts it “worthless”.

 Paul makes this clear in a number of places and let me just give you two passages of scripture from the writings of Paul relating to this,

Romans 5: 6 – 8,

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

And

Ephesians 1: 4 – 10,

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ”.

 So even though I left God he did not leave me and once I realised my salvation did not depend on my miserable contributions I realised the heart of the Gospel message, which is truly “Good News”. Note Paul’s words again in Ephesians 1: 6 and 7,

“To the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us”.

Notice how Paul attributes our salvation as given to us, in fact lavished on us “in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”. We can do nothing but rest in, trust in God for our salvation as David said again in verse 11;

For the help of man is worthless”.

  1. (vs. 13)   Salvation relies on trusting in God.

The final verse confirms that our salvation relies on trusting in God alone;

“With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies”.

In the time of David writing this Psalm 60, Israel was fighting desperate wars on two fronts.

David was fighting in the North against the Assyrians and Joab in the South East against the Edomites and before Joab went to the Edomite conflict some kind of Israeli defeat had occurred in a battle against the Edomites.

Now David prays for God’s help to defeat his enemies and in doing so declared his utter dependence on God for this salvation that would lead to this victory over his enemies. David has the confidence in God that only true faith in God can bring when he declares,

“With God we will gain the victory”.

Spurgeon writes,

“From God all power proceeds, and all we do well is done by divine operation; but still we, as soldiers of the great king, are to fight, and to fight valiantly too. Divine working is not an argument for human inaction”.

To the writer / editor of Psalm 108 this final verse from Psalm 60, which became his final verse of his Psalm 108 would have been a powerful encouragement in the battle of his people in his day. He and his readers or even hearers would have been reminded that if they trust in God they would have victory and God would trample down their enemies as that final verse says.

We too can take encouragement from this final verse that if we trust in God alone for our salvation we to will have victory in this life and the next and no matter what enemies of God we might face they will be trampled down by God particularly in the end.

My final offering of scripture is Paul’s prediction of the final victory of God over his enemies seen in the Lordship of Christ when he returns spoken in Philippians 2: 9 – 11,

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

Instead of finishing with a new poem / song for this Psalm I will follow the lead of the editor / writer of Psalm 108 and offer the words of my song I wrote for my Psalm 57 talk with the chorus I wrote since publishing that talk which was written when I composed a new song based on that Psalm and then I will share the prayer I wrote for that same talk as well.

GOD’S LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS

(Based on Psalm 57 and Psalm 108: 1 – 5)

 

Trust in God’s love and faithfulness

Because of Jesus Christ

Who came to earth to die for us

And rise to give us life

No matter what life brings us

Be sure to realize

That Christ is right beside us

To help us in our lives.

Chorus:

 

God’s love and faithfulness

In Jesus we see

God’s love and faithfulness

He’s always with me.

 

Have mercy Lord on all of us

Keep us safe Oh Lord

For Satan’s forces seek our souls

Remind us of your word

Help us shelter beneath your wings

When Satan’s forces come

God has promised love to us

Salvation through his Son.

 

Chorus:

 

I cry to God for help from him

I know he hears my prayers

I know he sends his help to us

He always knows and cares.

He saved us by his amazing grace

By sending Christ to die

All we have to do is trust

And love will raise us high,

 

Chorus:

 

My heart is steadfast trusting God

Who gives us all his love.

And I will sing of what his done

And raise his name above.

I’ll go into this world and praise

God’s love and faithfulness

Join the fellowship of praise

Proclaiming God’s the best.

 

Chorus:

 

God’s love and faithfulness

In Jesus we see

God’s love and faithfulness

He’s always with me.

PRAYER:

 I thank you Heavenly father for your great love and faithfulness that can be clearly seen in the sending of your son to die for us. Thank you that we can always trust in you because of your love and faithfulness for us. Help us to realise that when trouble comes in this life you are with us to help us with your love and faithfulness. Help us to show and tell this world how wonderful your love is and may we sing your praises joining with others who acknowledge you as the Lord of all and the God of love and faithfulness. In Jesus name we pray Amen.

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