If you have your Bibles, I'd invite you to turn with me to Psalm 108 as we continue our way through the fifth book of the Psalms together. And the last time we were together, we were at Psalm 107 and so we continue tonight in the next psalm. This psalm, as some of you may know, is put together from two other psalms in the Psalter. It has parts of Psalm 57, verses 7 to 11 in it, and it has parts of Psalm 60, verses 5 to 12 in it. And David has put it together. Those previous psalms, perhaps meant especially to be prayers of David to God in specific circumstances in which his own faith was being tested, this psalm perhaps on a national occasion in which the whole community of believers needed to be reminded of the basis of their confidence, the certainty of their hope, the security of their faith. And so David takes the material and he puts it together in a new song.
Many commentators, because of that, just pass right over this psalm and they refer you back to their notes on those passages from Psalm 57 and Psalm 60. I love the fact that C.H. Spurgeon didn't do that in his treasury of David. By the way, if you want a devotional book on the Psalms, Spurgeon's Treasury of David, ought to be on your shelf. And if you don't want to buy the book, you can even see it online. If you go to Spurgeon.org and look up the Treasury of David, you can get the whole Treasury of David, all of his notes, all of his sermon outlines, all of his hints for teaching the various chapters, you can get it all online. But I looked to see what Spurgeon would say about that and here's what he says:
“This song is to be sung jubilantly as a national hymn or solemnly as a sacred psalm. We cannot find it in our heart to dismiss this psalm by merely referring the reader first to Psalm 57 and then to Psalm 60, though it will be at once seen that these two portions of Scripture are almost identical with the verses before us. It is true that most of the commentators have done so, and we are not so presumptuous as to dispute their wisdom, but we hold for ourselves that the words would not have been repeated if there had not been an object for doing so, and that this object could not have been answered if every hearer of this psalm had said, ‘Ah, we have heard that before, and therefore we need not meditate upon it again.’”
And this is what I love that Spurgeon says.
“The Holy Spirit is not so short of expressions that He needs to repeat Himself, and the repetition thus cannot be merely meant to fill up the book. There must be some intention in the arrangement of two former divine utterances in this new connection, whether we can discover that intent is another matter. It is at least ours to endeavor to do so, and we may expect divine assistance therein.”
And then this is how he describes the psalm.
“We have before us the warrior's morning song, with which he adores his God and strengthens his heart before entering upon the conflicts of the day. As an old Prussians offer was want to pray to invoke the aid of his majesty's august ally, so does David appeal to God and set up his banner in Jehovah's name.”
Now I think if you look at the other two psalms, one of the things that will strike you is that the order of the verses here are very different from the flow of logic in the other psalms. So for instance, if you allow your eyes to look at the first five verses, these are vibrant affirmations of faith, expressions of determination to worship, but they come at the end of Psalm 57. In other words, the battle through discouragement and trouble comes at the beginning of Psalm 57 and then finally you get to these words, and they are, as it were, the resolution to the struggle of heart that was going because of the situation that the psalmist found himself in. Here, they’re put right at the outset of the song and that gives them an entirely different feel and function in this particular psalm. By the way, that one truth in and of itself lets you know that God's truth is deployed in many different ways, and different circumstances and situations bring out to our understanding new aspects and applications of God's one truth, so that one truth spoken in one situation, spoken into another situation comforts us, convicts us, instructs us, encourages us in different ways. And that's one of the things that we find out in the passage before us. Here, the words of affirmation are at the beginning of the psalm.
And then if you allow your eyes to go on down to verses 10 to 12, the struggle comes later. Isn't that interesting? In Psalm 57, the struggle comes first and then the resolution of faith at the end. Here, the words of determination to praise and thank God come first and then comes the struggle. There's something instructive in that and I hope to bring that out tonight as we read God's Word together and meditate upon it. Before we do, let's look to Him in prayer and ask for His help and blessing.
Heavenly Father, this is Your Word. We thank You that You have spoken it again to us. We have, in this very place, had the privilege before of meditating together on Psalm 57 and Psalm 60. But in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, He has put those words together again in a different arrangement in this psalm, and He has done this for our edification and profit, for our instruction and training in righteousness, to build us up, to prepare us for the battles of the day. We ask then, O Lord, tonight, as we meditate upon a morning psalm, that even this body of evening worshipers, would be made ready to pray in the morning the prayer of faith and go boldly into the day, confident in You, in Your power, and ready to do valiantly for the Lord, wherever You may call us. We ask these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
This is the Word of God. Hear it:
“A SONG. A PSALM OF DAVID.
My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your steadfast love is great above the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let Your glory be over all the earth! That Your beloved ones may be delivered, give salvation by Your right hand and answer me!
God has promised in His holiness: ‘With exultation I will divide up Shechem and portion out the Valley of Succoth. Gilead is Mine; Manasseh is Mine; Ephraim is My helmet, Judah My scepter. Moab is My washbasin; upon Edom I cast My shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph.’
Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom? Have You not rejected us, O God? You do not go out, O God, with our armies. Oh grant us help against this foe, for vain is the salvation of man! With God we shall do valiantly; it is He who will tread down our foes.”
Amen, and thus ends his reading of God's holy, inspired, and inerrant Word. May He write its eternal truth upon all our hearts.
It's an interesting psalm, isn't it? It begins with expressions of confident anticipation of being able to thank God, of being able to worship God, of being able to praise God. From the very outset, you can sense that there is some trouble in the future, and so there is some reason why the psalmist has to stoke up his heart to be determined to worship God because there's danger on the horizon. You don't know what it is yet, and you don't find out until you get to verses 10 to 12. But it begins with these confident anticipations of worshiping God, and then there's this cry for help. “You've rejected us, O God. You’re not going out with our armies, O God. How shall we conquer this fortified city?” Well let's walk through the psalm together and see something of its logic and its application to us today.
THE PSALMISTS EXPRESSION OF DETERMINATION TO WORSHIP GOD
The first thing I want you to see as we look at verses 1 to 3 is the psalmists expression of determination to worship God. Notice how he speaks. “My heart is steadfast, O Lord!” Now if you’re looking at Psalm 57, that phrase was contrasted to what he had said earlier in the psalm. And earlier in that psalm he had said, “My heart is bowed down.” Now, when he's come through that fight of faith in Psalm 57, he gets to the end of Psalm 57, he says, “No, not bowed down anymore, it's fixed. I'm going to worship God. I'm going to sing. I'm going to make melody with all my being.” But here, that assertion comes at the outset. Why? Because the trouble is on the horizon. He's not come through the trouble yet, and he's focusing himself, he's determining himself to worship God. He is confidently anticipating coming through his trial and giving God thanks and praise.
Notice in verse 4 that he does not leave you without a reason to worship God. The psalms never ask you simply to worship God; they tell you why you ought to worship God. They give you a reason to worship God. Sometimes that reason is grounded in who God is. Sometimes that reason is grounded in what God has done or what He will do. Sometimes it's grounded in all those things. But here in verse 4, you see the reason for worship. Why is it that he's determined to worship God? Verse 4 — “For Your steadfast love, Your loving kindness, Your covenant love, is great above the heavens, and Your faithfulness reaches the clouds.” Because of God's love and faithfulness, he is determined to worship God. Notice, notice even though he is going to explicitly, on multiple occasions, lift up a request, a prayer of petition, that he and the armed forces of Israel would be delivered in their conflict — so he's going to ask God to do certain things — he does not ground his worship of God in the way that God answers that specific petition but he grounds it in the person of God. He says, “This is why I'm going to worship You, Lord. I'm going to worship You because of Your love and Your faithfulness.”
That's very instructive to us. When we are facing situations that cause us to quiver, when we're facing situations that cause us to doubt, and we're seeking to preach to our hearts and say, “Believe God, worship God,” we ground that worship and that faith in who God is, not in how the particular situation looks to us at the time, not even how that particular situation is going to resolve itself in the short-term, but we ground our worship of God in who God is. God's love and faithfulness is the reason why the psalmist worshiped.
But notice what else the psalmist says. And you see it in verses 3 and 5. “I will give You thank, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations.” And then in verse 5 — “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let Your glory be over all the earth!” There is not only a determination to worship God in this psalm, there are not only reasons to worship God given in this psalm, there is an expression on the part of the psalmist of desire to see God exalted among the nations. The psalmist is concerned in his action, in his behavior, in God's answer to his prayers, and in his worship of God, that God would be made much of amongst the nations. He wants the Gentiles to take notice of his God. Now it is interesting, my friends, that Paul, in Romans 15:9 and following, goes back to this passage and passages like it to say that in this passage we see, foreshadowed in the Old Testament, the Gospel going to the Gentiles. But isn't it interesting that the psalmist is not satisfied with God being exalted in his life alone or God being exalted in Israel alone, but in God's deeds of glory for His people in response to prayer flowing out of who He is bringing Him glory in all the nations.
And I want to ask you, a question. Is that something that you think about? Does it matter to you that God is glorified among the nations? Do you care, does it burn within your soul that God would be exalted among all the peoples of the earth? That's one reason why the work of mission is so important and why it can never ever be simply a side-life in the life of a local church. As a congregation, we should care about God being exalted among the nations.
GOD'S WORD OF PROMISE
And then if you look at verse 6, finally we get the first hint at the specific petition that itself hints at the trouble which is ahead which led the psalmist in the first place to begin to assert that he was for certain going to give God praise and thanks and worship once God had brought him through this trial. And you see it in verse 6. “That Your beloved ones may be delivered, give salvation by Your right hand and answer me.” Now you get more of course when you get down to verses 10 and 11.
A military attack is about to happen and David is up against a very formidable foe. In fact, if you look at the heading of Psalm 57 in your Bible, you will see a description of the terrible conflict that David and Joab and his forces were engaged in with Edom in this instance. But here is a petition of prayer in which the psalmist expresses his desire for the deliverance of God's people. “Lord, deliver Your people.” Now we have the first petition of the psalm. And notice the basis of confidence for this petition. The psalmist is confident that the Lord will hear and answer this petition. Why? Not because of his circumstances. In fact, when he describes his circumstances in verse 10 and 11, there's nothing in those circumstances that would lead the psalmist to confidence. He's up against a fortified city, he's up against a well-armed, well-prepared enemy, situated in a very, very secure defensive position, and even worse, the Lord has apparently not shown in His providential favor blessing on the work of the armies of His people at this point. And so there's, in the situation, nothing to be confident about. But where does David find his confidence? Look at verse 7. It's right there. “God has promised in His holiness: this is My land. This land belongs to Me. Every square inch of it belongs to Me and I'm going to give it to My people.” God has made a promise. What is the basis of confidence? Not his circumstances, not his situation, not his immediate successes, not the weakness of his present opponent — the basis of confidence is the promise of God, the Word of God — God has said that He would give this land to His people.
Now that, my friends, is very instructive to us. David Dickson, who was one of the earliest commentators on The Westminster Confession of Faith, commenting on this very verse and this very point says this, “Faith, closing with a promise, will furnish joy to the believer before he enjoys the performance of it.” Listen to it one more time. “Faith, closing with a promise, will furnish joy to the believer before he enjoys the performance of it.” What in the world does he mean? When faith embraces and believes a promise of God in His Word, it gives you joy even before God fulfills the promise that He's made to you because you know the certainty of God's promise. That's why David's able to say at the beginning of this psalm, “I'm going to thank You. I'm going to worship You. I'm going to wake up the morning tomorrow because I know You’re going to hear my prayer. And I know You’re going to hear my prayer not because it's been going so great on the battlefield, not because we're up against a bunch of nobodies and we could wipe them out with one hand tied behind our back, but because You've made a promise in Your Word and You keep Your promises, Lord.” And so “faith, having closed with a promise, furnishes joy to a believer even before the believer enjoys the performance of it.” And Dickson goes on to say, “God hath spoken, says the believer, I will rejoice.” Because God has spoken, I will rejoice. So there's the basis of the confidence of the psalmist. That gives him the certainty that he needs to determine to worship and thank God, things that he's already spoken of in this psalm. God's promise is the basis of that confidence even in the face of the daunting challenge.
And you see that daunting challenge in verse 10. “Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?” It's a daunting challenge. You know, I must confess, it was not until Derek preached through, especially 2 Samuel, that I think that I, for the first time, existentially felt how rocky and uncertain David's reign was. You know, I thought of it most of the time as the Golden Age of Israel. And in many ways, of course, it was. But boy, if you work through 2 Samuel, you realize how precarious was everything in David's time. He's in just that kind of a situation here. This is no walk in a park! But I love what Spurgeon says. “Even though this challenge is daunting going up against Edom, if God has promised and He sends David to Petra to take Petra, David will take Petra.” No matter how daunting the challenge, God's word of promise is determinative.
And then that daunting challenge is complicated by the perplexing situation that is recorded in verses 11 and 12. “Have You rejected us, O God? You don't go out with Your armies.” And then the plea, “Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is salvation from men! There's no human help that's going to help us here, Lord. And Your providence doesn't look like You’re going out with Your armies right now. So if You don't help us, we're going to fail.” It's a perplexing situation, not unlike the situations that many of you experience in life, situations which lead you to think things and maybe even say things out loud like, “I cannot see how God could be in this. I have no idea how God could be working this for my good. It feels like God has forgotten me. It feels like God has abandoned me. I can't make sense out of what God is doing in my life here.” That's the kind of perplexing situation that David is in. Now do you understand the logic of the way that David has put this psalm together? This is what he was preparing himself for, this is what he was preparing his people for, this is what God the Holy Spirit was preparing you for with the words that came in the first verses of this psalm because we all, in this fallen world, find ourselves in these kinds of perplexing situations.
WE WILL DO VALIANTLY, BUT GOD WILL TREAD DOWN OUR FOES
And you know what David's final words are in this psalm? Verse 13 — almost, almost this could be a life motto, couldn't it? The words of verse 13 — “With God we shall do valiantly; it is He who will tread down our foes.” What's the life motto from that verse? We shall do valiantly, but He will win the victory. We shall do valiantly, but He will win the victory. And you know what rings in the back of my mind when I hear those two sides of Psalm 108 verse 13? Philippians chapter 2: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for God is at work in you.” Just as in sanctification we are called to be active and yet to rest on the fact that it is God at work in us, so also here we are called not simply to passively believe that God is sovereign, not just to passively believe that God is loving and faithful, but to act on the truth that God is loving and faithful and has made His promises to us. We’re called to do valiantly, but to remember all along that it will not be our valiant deeds that win the day; it will be God and God alone who wins the day. That's a life motto. We will do valiantly, but God will tread down our foes.
That's a motto for your marriages. If you find yourself in a perplexing situation in your marriage — “God, by Your grace, I will do valiantly, but You will be the One who gives victory in this marriage.” That's a good place for you if you’re perplexed in your relationship with children or parents — “I will do valiantly, Lord, by Your grace, but You will win the victory.” Shouldn't that be our posture as well in our community, as we look at the plight, not just the physical, but the spiritual plight of our city? Do you not want to say with the psalmist that you want God to be exalted in your own community? If that is going to happen, we will do valiantly, but it will have to be Him that gives the victory. This could be a life motto. And aren't you glad that David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, put those two parts of the psalms, 57 and 60, together like he did, in order to equip us for the perplexing moments and the daunting challenges that will face us in the day ahead? And by God's grace, we’ll wake up in the morning and we’ll awaken the dawn, trusting in Him, ready for our own challenges.
O Lord and God, thank You for Your Word. We need it. Give us, by Your Holy Spirit, faith to believe that You will do what You say in Your Word, faith to do valiantly, believing Your Word, faith to rest in Your work in us and for us to secure the victory, for vain is salvation by the hands of man. No, salvation belongs to the Lord. We pray our prayers in Jesus' name.
Would you stand for the Lord's blessing?
Peace be to the brethren and love with faith through Jesus Christ our Lord, until the day break and the shadows flee away. Amen.