Theme: Confidence in God’s Word
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
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.
When we studied Psalm 60 I pointed out that there are two ways verses 7-9 (in Psalm 60, verses 6-8) may be understood. They are introduced as a word which “God has spoken from his sanctuary.” “Sanctuary” means the tabernacle precincts in Jerusalem. So it is possible that this was a special revelation from God that could have been brought to David by Nathan or one of the other priests or prophets in order to be incorporated into Psalm 60 long before Psalm 108 was put together. If that is the case, the oracle is a statement that God has given the land of Israel to the Jewish people and a promise that he would also give victory over the enemies that were trying to take it from them.
The other way of looking at these verses is suggested by the fact that the place names are not what we might have expected at any point in David’s career—we would expect the names of the tribal territories perhaps—and by the fact that they seem to come from and trace the early history of the occupation of the land from the time of the patriarch Jacob onward. Shechem was the place Jacob settled after his return to Canaan from Paddan Aram where he had lived for twenty years with his uncle and later father-in-law Laban (Gen. 33:18). Succoth was the last place he had been prior to that (Gen. 33:17). These two places represent larger areas of the eastern side of the Jordan River occupied by Israel at the time of the conquest under Joshua. Ephraim and Judah represent the eastern and western sides of the Jordan River. Gilead and Manasseh represent larger areas of the eastern side of the Jordan River occupied by Israel at the time of the conquest under Joshua. Ephraim and Judah represent the most prominent tribes to the west.1 If these names are meant to remind us of this early history and of the fact that God had given the land to the people from the time of the patriarchs, then verses 6-9 are not necessarily an oracle from David’s own time, but rather a new phrasing of these older promises.
But notice this. As I pointed out in our study of Psalm 60 earlier, in either case the Word of God is the basis of the psalmist’s faith. It is because God has spoken that the writer can have hope for the future and pray confidently for God’s help and deliverance. Faith must always be grounded in the Word of God.2
1For a study of these places and their significance, see H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), pp. 450, 451; and J. J. Stewart Perowne, Commentary on the Psalms, 2 vols. in 1 (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1989), vol. 1, pp. 472, 473. Original edition 1878-1879. The page numbers refer to their study of these verses in Psalm 60.
2See James Montgomery Boice, Psalms, vol. 2, Psalms 41-106 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996).
Summarize the second section of the psalm. What are two ways of looking at these verses?
What is the basis for the psalmist’s faith?
For what does the psalmist pray in the last stanza?
Prayer: Ask God’s help in developing a deep faith in him. Thank him for the hope he has given you.
Key Point: Faith must always be grounded in the Word of God.
Oracle: a divine utterance, communication, or revelation.