Theme: A Psalm of Praise and Hope
This week’s lessons show us that because God is faithful, we are to praise him and live in confident hope.
Scripture: Psalm 108:1-13
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.
Psalm 108, the psalm we are to study now, is made up of the endings of two earlier psalms: Psalm 57:7-11 and Psalm 60:5-12. In the earlier psalms David was writing under stress. According to the title of Psalm 57, David was hiding in a cave in order to escape from Saul, who was trying to kill him. The title to Psalm 60 relates it to a time of war between the armies of David and the Edomites. The earlier psalms each begin by describing the perils David faced. But then they end on a positive note of praise and hope for the future, and it is these two endings that are combined in Psalm 108 to produce what I have called “a warrior’s morning song.” In this psalm the king begins his day by praising God. He is awake even before the dawn, asking God for help in his battles and trusting that God will soon give him victory over his that God will soon give him victory over his enemies, particularly the fortified cities of the secure mountain stronghold of Edom, which is where the psalm ends.
The title of Psalm 108 says that the psalm is “of David.” But that is only because the psalms from which it is taken both identify David as their author. David is the author of the words, but this does not mean that David fused the two pieces together to form Psalm 108. On the contrary, the psalm is better explained as the work of a later author who, faced by a similar challenge from the surrounding nations, particularly Edom, looked to God for a new deliverance and victory, as David had before him. The new situation could be the abuse of the people by Edom that took place at the time of Jerusalem’s fall, as reflected in Obadiah.
Alexander Maclaren thought that the return from Babylon would be an appropriate occasion for the psalm. “The hopes of conquest in the second part, the consciousness that while much has been achieved by God’s help, much still remains to be won before Israel can sit secure, the bar or two in the minor key in verse 11, which heighten the exultation of the rest of the song, and the cry for help against adversaries too strong for Israel’s unassisted might, are all appropriate to the early stages of the return.”1
This new use of older psalms points clearly to the continuing relevancy and power of the Scriptures in later Jewish life.
1Alexander Maclaren, The Psalms, vol. 3 (New York: A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1894), p. 170.
From what two psalms is Psalm 108 comprised? How does the psalm differ from these two?
Why is Psalm 108 called “a warrior’s psalm”?
Application: How do you begin your day? Resolve to awaken a little earlier to give you time to praise God and ask his help for the day.
For Further Study: To learn about praising God in corporate worship, download for free and listen to Philip Ryken’s message, “Give Praise to God.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)