How can we take this psalm from its ancient setting and carry its value forward into our own time and beyond? We have already considered that this is a psalm that can provide strength for our conflicts. Today we look at another way.

The final stanza is a prayer for victory over Edom, which is what has probably been on the psalmist's mind from the first verse onward and is the occasion for this new composition. David had defeated Edom and made it a part of his kingdom years before this. The account of David's conquest is in 2 Samuel 8:1-14 (a parallel account is in 1 Chronicles 18:1-13). The relevant part of this chapter says, “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 everywhere he went” (2 Sam. 8:13, 14). But now the Edomites had apparently regained power, and a new battle was pending. The psalmist asks, “Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?”

The second section of the psalm contains a prayer to God to save, help and deliver those who have been attacked, probably by the Edomites (v. 6), followed by God's answer in the form of an oracle (vv. 7-9). The oracle follows so closely upon the appeal that we know that faith has already won a victory, just as in Psalm 60 from which these words are taken.

The first thing the author has to say is that his “heart is steadfast” or fixed. How so? It is not many verses further along before we learn the secret of his stability. It is because God is a steadfast or faithful God, and the psalmist's confidence is in him. Indeed, God is more than just steadfast. He is also a God of great love, and his love and faithfulness both reach as high as the sky or heavens, which is a way of saying that they are infinite and thus beyond our full comprehension: “I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.”

One of the interesting things about studying the psalms is discovering that sometimes parts of them are drawn from other portions of the Old Testament, even from the psalms themselves. For example, Psalm 96 was borrowed from 1 Chronicles 16:23-33. The material in 1 Chronicles 16 is a long psalm of twenty-nine verses, composed by David. The middle portion of that historical psalm (eleven verses in all) became Psalm 96. A different kind of borrowing took place in regard to Psalms 14 and 53. The second is an almost word-by-word repetition of the first.