Psalm 108 Victory Over The Nations.
Sometimes when one reads the bible one is far from feeling what one reads. In every age there are times when the saints walk about with broken hearts-the truth of scripture seems so far from the reality in one’s own life, the church, or the society at large. The psalmist confesses that his heart is steadfast, therefore he sings (v. 1 Cf. Ps. 57:7). For many of us, this isn’t always the case. So what caused his heart to be steadfast? Whatever it was it moved him to “awaken the dawn.” (v. 2 Cf. Ps. 57:8) It was as if he couldn’t wait to let the whole world know why he had to sing, and he seeks the employment of musical instruments to that end (vv. 1-3 Cf. Ps. 57:9). His reason is the knowledge and experience of the LORD’s mercy (v. 4 Cf. Ps. 57:10).
For the psalmist mercy wasn’t just some pie in the sky in the sweet by and by. The mercy of the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD meant he had grounds to ask for deliverance (vv. 5-6 Cf. Ps. 57:5, 11). “God has spoken,” is the first axiom of all thought and existence. It all starts and ends here. The other seed in the world says, “Has God indeed said,” (Gen. 3:1), and “What is truth?” (Jn. 18:38) God’s word, indeed all words, are and always have been more than bare epistemology. Epistemology is inseparable from ethics, because words are spoken by thinking moral beings. “God has spoken in His holiness.” (v. 7a)
Verses 6-13 is repeated in Psalm 60:5-12, and it appears to have been a song sung before the psalter was formed. It appears to have been a compilation of various recorded events concerning the nations and God’s sovereign rule. Shechem was the place where the LORD first appeared to Abram after he ventured out to the promised land in response to the promises given, that is, his journey of faith (Gen. 12:6). There the LORD promised him the land and Abram built an altar (Gen. 12:7). The LORD measured out what would be the land given to Gad (Josh. 13:27), and Gilead and the half tribe of Manasseh concerned the land promised east of the Jordan.
Ephraim was he who gained his elder brother’s birthright from Manasseh. Such was the blessing which Jacob pronounced upon Joseph’s sons (Gen. 48:13-20). Shechem and Succoth were the two places that Jacob occupied after his encounter with Esau (Gen. 33:17-20). Manasseh would push thousands of the people but Ephraim would push tens of thousands (Dt. 33:17). Of Judah the messianic promise was given that the sceptre would not depart from him, “nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” (Gen. 49:10) Moab’s defeat by Judah is something the prophet Balaam would predict (Cf. Nu. 24:17-19).
These are all victories promised over the nations which his people would conquer in the land of promise. David would also be victorious over Moab (Cf. II Sam. 8:2), Philistia (II Sam. 8:1), and Edom (II Sam. 8:14). These victories would come upon the covenant which the LORD made with David (II Sam. 7). It is the LORD alone who gave them their victories and He alone who will continue to do so. The history of these kingdoms is proof that “the help of man is useless.” (v. 11b Cf. Ps. 118:8; 146:3) “Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.” (v. 12) This goes back to the first gospel promise (Cf. Gen. 3:15), and finds its fulfilment in the continuing work of the church (Rom. 16:20).