Messiah’s Melodious Shout of Confidence on Behalf of His People 

a brief study of Psalm 108, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 9 July 2010

Psalm 108 is not very well-known to most of us; but it has a rather unique distinction. It is unique in that it comprises two parts, each taken from a different psalm. The first part, verses 1-5, is taken from Psalm 57:7-11[1]; whereas the second part, verses 6-13, is taken from Psalm 60:5-12.

Now, we have earlier entitled Psalm 57, “The Righteous One rejoicing in the midst of lions, arrows, nets & pits.” It was written by David at the time when he was being pursued by Saul; and it reflected Christ’s suffering as He faced much persecution because of Satan and those under his influence. But the portion that is included in Psalm 108 makes no mention of the suffering of the Righteous One, for it is about His resolve to praise the Father in spite of and despite the difficulties He was facing.

Likewise, Psalm 60 may be entitled, “The Righteous One’s prayer for victory for His people.” It was written by David, in a time of war, probably just before they marched into Edom to avenge their attempt to invade Judah. The first part of this psalm is really a lamentation. Verse 3, for example, reads: “Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment” (Ps 60:3). But again, the part that is quoted is the second half of the psalm that expresses confidence in the Lord.

In other words, Psalm 108 is a combination of the joyful and triumphant portions of Psalm 57 and 60 into one victorious hymn of confidence.

We may entitle this psalm, “Messiah’s melodious shout of confidence on behalf of His people.”

Let’s look at the two parts of this psalm. The first part may be subtitled: “A Confident Resolve to Praise.” The second part may be subtitled: “A Confident Assurance of Victory.”


1. A Confident Resolve to Praise

1  O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.

The glory here refers either to the tongue, or more likely, to the soul. As we open our lips to sing this psalm in union with our Lord, we resolve with our Lord to praise God from the bottom of our heart regardless of the outward circumstances we are in.

It is easy to sing and to praise God when the circumstances around us gives us much joy and occasion of thanksgiving. It is much more difficult to sing and praise God when our hearts are constantly under assault by many troubles as was the case with our Lord, or with His type and penmen, David. 

But we exist to glorify God, so our highest joys will be found in praising Him. So praise Him we must. So we join our Lord to resolve to praise the Father come what may. 

Our Lord was troubled from every side. He was troubled by the infirmities of the flesh He had to endure on account of our sin. He was troubled by the sinful designs of those who hated Him. He was troubled by those who ought to love Him for their half-heartedness and lack of faith. 

But His heart was fixed to praise God. He would not allow Himself to sway to and fro in the midst of the storms. And He was not going to change His mind about praising His Father even though the Father had yet to deliver Him from the sore trials He was undergoing. 

So let us adopt the same attitude and resolution. Say to your soul: My heart is fixed. I will sing and give praise. Yes, my soul is in perplexity and grieving. Yes, it is hard to sing praise in such situations. But it is not impossible if I would stir my heart sincerely.

2 Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.

Neither David nor the Lord is referring to musical instruments, but to the musical ability of the soul. It is interesting to note that the apostle Paul probably had the first two verses of this psalm in mind when he wrote:

     “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:19) 

The Greek for the words “singing and making melody” is essentially the same as the Septuagint translation of the words “sing and give praise” in verse 1 of our text. 
So when we sing, “Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early,” we are singing our resolution to stir our hearts to make melody unto the Father. We are signaling our resolve not to allow the negative emotions in our heart to reign over us. We would not want to be controlled by emotions. Rather we will do what our minds tell us is the right thing to do. We will exercise the will and resolutely praise the Father. 

We will praise Him everywhere as per our Lord’s prophesy and resolution…

3 I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations…


This prophecy was only to a small degree fulfilled in David, whereas in Christ Jesus it was fulfilled fully. For Christ indeed praises the LORD among the people. He indeed sings unto the Father among the nations whenever believers gather together to worship God using His words. He would do so by His spirit after His resurrection. 

     “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee” (Ps 22:22). 

What of the Father’s name does our Lord declare? He will declare His mercy. He will declare His truth and faithfulness. He will declare His glory:

4 For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.  5 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth;


The mercy or covenant loving-kindness of the Lord is great above the heavens. His truth or faithfulness to keep His promises reaches beyond the cloud. It is more certain than that God should send rain and sunshine on His people. It is greater than that God should send the entire host of the created heaven to fight for His people, for He sent His only begotten son to die for His people. 

Oh shall we not join with the son to lift up the name of our God far above the heavens that His glory may shine upon all the earth. 

But as we resolve to praise the Father, let us also join our Lord to sing with a confident assurance of victory over all that are at enmity against our enjoyment of God. 

This is in the second part of this psalm, which is…


2. A Confident Assurance of Victory 

We noted how this was written at a time of war, especially the war against Edom. But the fact that the Holy Spirit could take part of the psalm out to join to another written on a very different occasion indicates to us that this is a timeless psalm that is useful for all times. 

Now, the basis of our confidence in all trials is really to be found in Christ our mediator. The Father’s favour towards us is not founded on how worthy we are, but on His love for His son. 

So our Lord addresses the Father on our behalf in verse 6—

6 That thy beloved [i.e. thy beloved people] may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me.

The word ‘beloved’ is in plural in Hebrew, so it is a reference to God’s people. Our Lord is pleading on behalf of His people for a powerful deliverance. 

How may we be delivered but that we are saved with God’s right hand of power? How may we be delivered but that the prayers of our Mediator sitting on the right hand of the throne of God are heard? 

Will God hear? Of course! Indeed, the Father himself has given us assurance: “God has spoken in his holiness” (v. 7) What did God say?

Most modern translations including the NIV, NASB and even the NKJV translate the second part of verse 7 all the way to verse 9 as the direct speech of God. In other words, they would take the punctuation after “God hath spoken in his holiness” as a colon rather than a semi-colon.

Who is correct? Well, personally, I think the way that our translators have it makes more sense. The ‘I’ in verse 7 is the same as the ‘me’ in verse 6. Both refer to the Lord.

If this is right, and I believe it is, then we must ask: What did God say in His holiness? Well, the answer is found in another psalm, in Psalm 89:35

     “35 Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. 36 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me” (Ps 89:35-36) 

God has sworn in His holiness that David’s throne will be established and his seed will endure forever. 

On the basis of this, David writes:

 7 …I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth. 8 Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver; 9 Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph. 

When this part of the psalm was written, Israel was at war. The nation was unstable. The Northern tribes had just recently acknowledged him as king. And the Syrians, the Edomites, the Moabites and the Philistines all wanted a piece of the land. 

David, on the basis of God’s promise, could confidently assert that all the tribes and cities in the North and East — Schechem, Succoth, Gilead, Manasseh, Ephraim — are his to rule and to apportion as king. Ephraim would be the strength of his head. It would provide military might. And he would rule from Judah. “Judah is my lawgiver” he says.

And David claimed victory over Moab, Edom and Philistia. Moab would be like a washbasin given to the conqueror to refresh himself. Edom would pick up his shoes like a slave and the Philistines will look to him for success.


But wait a minute? Is this all about David? No, certainly not! We noted that the ‘I’ of verse 7, is also the ‘me’ of verse 6. Who should be in our mind when we sing the ‘me’ of verse 6? Not so much David, but the greater David! The lesser David no longer intercedes for his people; but the greater David continues to do so at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Christ, more than David of Old, had the right to claim ownership and sovereignty over His people and victory over His enemies. 

Christ has secured the victory. He secured it at the Cross. But it pleases God to leave the complete and final victory for a future day. “For he must reign,” says the apostle Paul. “till he hath put all enemies under his feet” (1 Cor 15:25). 

But victory is certain. Christ has laid claim to His people and all the heavenly blessings that the Promised Land typifies. Christ has declared victory over His enemies. His word will not fail.

Spiritual Gilead, Succoth, Manasseh, Ephraim and Judah are His to apportion. And the people signified by the people who dwelled in this land are His to rule. He who has begun a good work in every congregation in the Israel of God will perfect it unto the day of His revelation. Spiritual Edom, Moab and Philistia will be conquered, for He has conquered and is conquering. He is conquering sin by His Spirit. He is conquering sinners by His Gospel. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord and King. God has spoken in His holiness. It will happen. 

And so our King would have us to join Him to sing the words of His confidence…

10 Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom? 11 Wilt not thou, O God, who hast cast us off? and wilt not thou, O God, go forth with our hosts? 12 Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man. 13 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.


David of old could have confidence that God would restore the glory of his people and lead him into Edom. He understood that vain is the help of man, but through God he would do valiantly. 

How much more does the greater David have the confidence! As man He must pray unto the Father, as God He must fulfill the prayer. He is the God-Man. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Mt 28:18), He says. Our Lord will not fail because God is on His side. 

So as His people we too will not fail if we are fighting His battles. We must be sure that we are fighting His battles and not our own battles. But if we are sure, and we fight in His strength and confidence, we can have every reason to believe that He will grant us success. 

For did not the apostle Paul remind us: “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom 16:20a). 


Conclusion 

This is Psalm 108. This was a psalm that was originally borne out of difficult circumstances. But it is a psalm of resolution and confidence rather than lamentation. It is a psalm about confidence in Christ in the midst of all the changing scenes of life. It is a psalm about God’s love and blessing upon all for whom Christ died for. 

May the Lord grant us His every assistance to meditate and sing this psalm with hearts filled with gratitude for all that Christ our Lord has done for us. Amen. Ω


[1]     The only important difference being the use of Jehovah in Ps 108:3 instead of Adonai in Ps 57:9.