Psalm 108

Submitted by admin on Sun, 2007-05-20 12:07.

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This psalm is ascribed to David. It basically combines parts of Psalm 57 (7-11[8-12]) and Psalm 60 (5-12[7-14]), compositions that are also attributed to David.

When referring to his heart as being steadfast or firm, the psalmist probably meant that, in his deep inner self, he did not doubt that God would come to his aid. According to the Septuagint, he spoke of his heart as being “prepared” or “ready.” In the Masoretic Text, unlike the Septuagint, this expression about the heart is not repeated. Likely his having experienced divine deliverance prompted the psalmist to sing and make melody.

His “glory” or everything that was noble or honorable about himself would share in the expression of praise. This thought differs from Psalm 57:8(9), where he directs his glory to awake. The Septuagint reading of Psalm 108:1 (107:2) is, “I will sing and render praise [the Greek being a verb form of ‘psalm’] in my glory.”

The harp and lyre are to awaken, evidently so that music might resound to God’s praise. Possibly, on account of beginning to praise his God early in the morning to the accompaniment of music, the psalmist spoke of awakening the dawn. According to the Septuagint, he would awaken early in the morning.

The psalmist would not confine himself to private expressions of thanksgiving and praise for what his God had done for him. He determined to give thanks to YHWH among the people and to sing praises to him among the nations.

The psalmist would give thanks and sing praises because God’s compassionate care, steadfast love, or “mercy” (LXX) proved to be great, as if reaching above the heavens or the skies, and his “truth” extended up to the clouds. In this case, “truth” probably is to be understood as meaning dependability, trustworthiness, or faithfulness. Of such unsurpassing greatness were God’s compassionate care and dependability that they could be spoken of as being higher than the celestial dome.

“O God,” continued to the psalmist, “be exalted above the heavens. [May] your glory [be] over all the earth.” Through his marvelous acts of deliverance, the Almighty would reveal himself to be the highly exalted one, the one whose glory or magnificence would be talked about throughout the earth or land.

God’s “beloved” doubtless designates his people Israel. In the Septuagint, “beloved” is, in fact, plural. The psalmist prayed that God would effect deliverance with his right hand or best hand, representative of his power. The psalmist added, “and answer me,” or respond to my appeal to help your people.

“God has spoken in his holiness.” He is holy, clean, or pure in the absolute sense. Therefore, his words are pure and deserving of the utmost confidence. For him to speak in his holiness would denote his providing a dependable promise.

Possibly the city of Shechem is representative of Israelite territory west of the Jordan, whereas the Valley of Succoth would be representative of the Israelite territory east of the Jordan. As the owner of the land, God would exultingly divide Shechem and portion out the Valley of Succoth. The implication seemingly is that his people are the recipients of the portions.

God is portrayed as saying, “Gilead is mine and Manasseh is mine, and Ephraim is the protection of my head [the defense of my head, LXX]; Judah is my scepter [my king, LXX].” Gilead, the territory east of the Jordan, came to be the possession of the half tribe of Manasseh. In the ultimate sense, however, the region and the people belonged to God and were under his protection. As the most powerful and influential tribes, Ephraim (possibly because of being in a position to provide many warriors) was like a protection for the head or like a helmet and Judah wielded royal authority. Translators vary in their renderings respecting Ephraim, with some not choosing to take the Hebrew to mean a helmet for the head. The Tanakh, for example, reads, “Ephraim my chief stronghold.”

For Moab to be God’s washbasin suggests that the Moabites would cease to have an exalted standing and be reduced to a state comparable to one suited only for menial service. The Septuagint refers to Moab as the “cauldron of my hope,” suggesting a more positive prospect for the Moabites. Apparently Edom would lose its position as an independent state. The act of throwing the sandal on a piece of land could either express contempt or signify taking possession of the land. Shouting over Philistia evidently refers to attaining a victory and then shouting in triumph. The Septuagint reads, “Those of another tribe [the Philistines] have been subjected to me.”

At this point, the subject of the psalm changes, and two questions are raised. “Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will conduct me into Edom?” Possibly the prominent Edomite city of Bozrah is the fortified city. (Isaiah 34:6; 63:1; Jeremiah 49:13, 22; Amos 1:12) The questions imply that, to be victorious, the Israelites needed the Most High God to lead them to the fortified city and into Edom.

To the psalmist it appeared that God was not allowing them to gain the victory. He felt that the Most High had rejected his people and did not accompany their armies.

The psalm concludes with the appeal for God to help his people against the enemy, for deliverance by any human source, by a mere earthling, would fail. It was vain or useless. Only with God on their side would they have the strength to be triumphant. He would trample their foes. The Septuagint says, “He will set our enemies at naught.”

Note: Regarding the divine name (YHWH), see Psalm 1.