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“This Psalm consists of portions of two others, the first half of it being taken from the 57th Psalm, Psalms 108:7-11, and the latter half from the 60th, Psalms 108:5-12. It bears the name of David, because the original passages both occur in psalms ascribed to him as their author But there is no reason for concluding that these fragments were thus united by David himself. Some later poet probably adapted them to circumstances of his own time; possibly wished thus to commemorate some victory over Edom or Philistia.”—Perowne.
As the whole of the Psalm has already been expounded in “The Homiletical Commentary” on Psalms 57, 60, it will be sufficient if in this place we suggest a method of developing its main homiletic ideas. The Psalm affords an excellent illustration of—
THE COMPLETE TRIUMPH OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
The Christian life is a warfare. Every spiritually-renewed man has to do battle with fleshly lusts and evil tendencies in his own nature, with corrupt opinions and practices in society, and with the temptations of the devil. The renewed man is assured of ultimate victory in this conflict. And this Psalm very suitably represents the spiritual attitude of the Christian warrior, who, although he has gained many conquests, is not yet completely victorious, but in the strength of God is pressing on to the full and final triumph. The complete triumph of the Christian life is—
I. Promoted by praise to God. The Poet begins his Psalm with praise to God. Observe the main features of his praise. It is—
1. Praise from a confident heart. “O God, my heart is fixed.” A fixed heart is one which is firm and fearless by reason of its confidence in God. Its praise would be unfaltering and fervent.
2. Praise with the noblest powers. “Even with my glory.” By his “glory” the Poet means his soul, with all the capacities and faculties which belonged to him as an intelligent being, created in the Divine image. The praise of God should engage the noblest powers of our being. Soulless worship is repugnant to Heaven.
3. Praise in the most public manner. “I will praise Thee, O Lord, among the people; and I will sing praises unto Thee among the nations.” The peoples of the whole earth alone constitute a sufficient auditory for the praise which the Psalmist would offer.
4. Praise because of God’s covenant relationship. “For Thy mercy is great above the heavens, and Thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.” The mercy and truth of God are the attributes which are celebrated by Hebrew poets and prophets as marking His covenant relationship with His people. These are conspicuous, exalted, vast as the heavens.
5. Praise of universal extent. “Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Thy glory above all the earth.” The heart which is fixed to praise God would exalt Him in the highest degree and widest extent. He is worthy the praise of the highest intelligences of heaven, and of all upon earth.
How does this praise promote the complete victory of the Christian life?
First: It honours God. “Them that honour Me, I will honour.” If we honour Him with sincere praise He will honour us with courage, strength, triumph.
Second: It strengthens faith. As we heartily celebrate the Divine mercy and truth, our faith in them will grow stronger. And in moral conflicts nothing nerves the heart with heroism and the arm with power like faith in God. In the warfare of the spiritual life if we would “wax valiant in fight, and turn to flight the armies of the aliens,” it must be “through faith.”
II. Promoted by consideration of the triumphs already achieved. The Poet calls to mind the victories already won. “I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem and mete out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine, Ephraim also is the strength of mine head, Judah is my lawgiver, Moab is my washpot.” Shechem on the west of Jordan, and Succoth on the east; Gilead (including the region occupied by the tribes of Gad and Reuben), and Manasseh on the east, and Ephraim and Judah on the west, are mentioned as representing the whole land of Canaan. The powerful tribe of Ephraim is represented as “the strength of his head,” i.e., the great protection of the most vital interests in battle. Judah is spoken of as the lawgiver, probably in reference to the ancient prediction, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh come.” All this land of Canaan was subdued. Moab also was conquered. “Moab is my wash-pot” expresses the reduction of the Moabites to a state of utter servitude. “The Moabites became David’s servants, and brought gifts” (2 Samuel 8:2).
But the victory of Israel was not complete. Edom was still unconquered. But its subjugation is anticipated. “Over Edom will I cast my shoe.” In the preceding clause Moab is described as a mean vessel in which the feet are washed, and now Edom is described as a servant of the lowest grade to whom the sandals are thrown to be removed or to be cleaned. Or the figure may mean the placing of the foot upon Edom in token of its complete subjection. The idea undoubtedly is that Edom should be completely vanquished by, and subjected to, Israel.
But how would the consideration of past triumphs promote the complete victory?
First: Their consideration reveals the fact that many an enemy which seemed too mighty for us has been vanquished by believing effort. The Israelites had conquered the fierce and strong Canaanites. Could they not also conquer the formidable Idumeans? In the Christian life we look back upon many a difficulty overcome, many a temptation successfully resisted, many a foe slain, and are encouraged to hope and contend for the full and final conquest. Past victories are an earnest of future and entire triumph.
Second: Their consideration brings into clear and impressive light the faithfulness and sufficiency of God as our Helper. He had made good His promise to Israel in their past triumphs, which they had achieved by virtue of His help; and, as He changes neither in His faithfulness nor in His power to help, would He not enable them to vanquish the Idumeans? In the past of our individual Christian life He has been our unfailing Helper and Supporter. “Having obtained help of God, we continue unto this day.” Our past triumphs are due to His assistance. And as we review them, remembering His unchangeableness, we are encouraged boldly to encounter future difficulties and enemies. John Newton very clearly expresses this thought—
“His love in time past
Forbids me to think,” &c.
III. Assured by God. We discover this assurance in—
1. His interest in His people. David speaks of Israel as His “beloved.” “That Thy beloved may be delivered.” God loves His people; and that love is a guarantee of their ultimate and complete triumph over all their foes.
2. His power to give His people the victory. “Save with Thy right hand.… Through God we shall do valiantly; and He shall tread down our enemies.” “The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.” “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” To those who believingly prosecute this warfare God gives the victory.
3. His promise to give His people the victory. “God hath spoken in His holiness.” The holiness of God is the pledge that He will perform His promises. He has promised to those who believe on Him the victory over all their foes; and what He has promised He will perform, for His word is both almighty and unchangeable.
CONCLUSION. Here is encouragement for the Christian soldier. Ours is not a doubtful battle. The Lord is on our side; therefore we must conquer. Here is counsel for the Christian soldier. If we would conquer we must be found in the way of duty. Trust and fight, watch and pray, so shall you come off at last more than conqueror through Christ.
THE GREATNESS OF GOD’S MERCY
(Psalms 108:4.—“Thy mercy is great above the heavens.”)
A thing may be radically evil in itself, and yet may by a superior power be made the occasion of good. The entrance of sin into the world was a most evil and painful thing, yet under the glorious government of God it is so overruled as not to prove an unmixed evil. Some of the most glorious representations of the character of God have been occasioned by the sin of mankind. This is true of His mercy. Sin did not originate His mercy, but was the occasion of its display. Mercy is the form which the goodness of God assumes to the sinful and wretched. It is the disposition of God to pardon sinners and to relieve sufferers. Our text sets forth the greatness of the Mercy of God. This is seen—
I. In the blessings of daily life. The use of the word “mercy” implies suffering and sin on the part of those to whom it is applied. Man is a sinner: sin deserves misery, death. But there is much enjoyment in the world. Every day we receive innumerable blessings. What a proof of His mercy! Life itself is a gift of God’s mercy. His mercy crowns the life of hell-deserving rebels with joy! It becomes us to receive every comfort and joy as a proof, not only of God’s goodness, but of His mercy. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed,” &c.
II. In the grand end for which it is manifested. Why, when sin entered our world, did mercy also appear? Why does God continue our life here? Why does He in countless ways manifest His mercy to men? In order that man may be delivered from sin, and be established in a state of holiness. Salvation, the restoration of man to God, is the grand purpose of Divine mercy. How transcendently great! How Divine!
III. In the numerous and glorious means by which it seeks to accomplish this end. These are—
1. The incarnation, life, ministry, sufferings, death, resurrection, and intercession of the Son of God. The great blessing of salvation could not have been obtained apart from Christ. He is the great Gift of mercy, the great Channel of mercy, the great Minister of mercy. This gift transcends that of salvation. That our redemption should be through the blood of Christ is a wonderful display of mercy. Wonderful that mercy should seek our salvation; more wonderful that such means should be employed to secure it. Jesus Christ is the greatest gift of the mercy of God.
2. The agency of the Holy Ghost. He strives, calls, convinces, converts, establishes, sanctifies men—all in mercy, and all with a view to their salvation. In this we have a great display of mercy. He is distinguished, glorious, divine; and He is the gift of God’s mercy to us.
3. The ministry of the Gospel preacher. God hath sent forth ambassadors to beseech men in Christ’s stead to be reconciled unto Him. Every true preacher of the Gospel is a gift of Divine mercy to men. Every Gospel sermon is a proof of God’s mercy to those who hear it.
4. The arrangements of Providence. God’s providence is a great institution of mercy, a vast organisation of mercy in constant operation to secure the salvation of men. All the circumstances, scenes, and events of life are ordered or controlled by mercy for the salvation of men.
How various and glorious, then, are the means and agencies which God in His mercy uses to secure the salvation of mankind! These means and agencies are devised by Mercy, bestowed by Mercy, employed by Mercy, for a most merciful end.
IV. In the vast multitudes to whom it extends. It extends to all men. God in mercy gave Christ a Saviour for all men. His salvation is adequate to the needs of all, suited to the needs of all, offered to all, and free for all. Like the heavens which encompass all, and pour their light and warmth on all and freely, so God’s mercy embraces all, and freely offers to all her ample provisions. Countless multitudes have been saved by mercy. The trophies of her saving power are ever passing into the realms of the blessed. This great mercy is equal to all the sin and misery of our sinful and suffering race—nay, it transcends the sin and suffering. It meets the needs of the worst sinners. Manasseh, Mary Magdalene, the dying malefactor, Saul the persecutor, found mercy, and through mercy entered heaven. At present it is more than sufficient for the vilest. It is sufficient for all sinners that are now and will yet arise, until its grand end is accomplished, the race restored, and God glorified in man. His mercy is infinite. “He delighteth in mercy.” He “is rich in mercy.” “Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth for ever.”
This great mercy increases our obligation to God. Accept this mercy; in sin and weakness trust in it; rejoice in it; praise God for it.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 108". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25