Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 108

The Biblical IllustratorThe Biblical Illustrator

Verses 1-13

Psalms 108:1-13

O God, my heart is fixed.

A threefold moral state of mind

Moral fixation of soul (Psalms 108:1-6). This concentration of soul is unknown to unregenerate men. They are unsettled, divided, distracted, and therefore more or less unhappy. The verses point to two of the grand results of this moral fixedness.

1. The highest happiness (verses 1, 2). All this is the language of exultation, and this exultation springs from a true decision of soul, self-unity, and concord.

2. The heartiest worship (Psalms 108:3-5). The thoughts and affections being fixed on Him who is transcendently good, beautiful, and true, worship follows as a matter of course.

The inflation of worldly success (Psalms 108:7-9). The psalm (Psalms 60:1-12) from which these verses are taken is a war song in anticipation of victory. The warrior is flushed by the prospect of triumph over his enemies, and looks down upon them with a heartless contempt. The tendency of worldly success is to make men supercilious and heartless; men who have won great success in any department of life, be it in war, commerce, or learning, have ever been disposed to look with contempt on those not so distinguished. The haughtiness of some is not only the most vile but the most pernicious state of mind. “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Consciousness of utter dependence (Psalms 108:10-13). This state of mind,--viz. a conscious dependence on God is right, for there is no creature more dependent than man,--lies at the foundation of our personal religion, for without it there is no looking to God, no prayer, no thanksgiving. (Homilist.)

Verse 4

Psalms 108:4

For Thy mercy is great above the heavens, and Thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.

God’s mercy above the heavens

The ideas involved in this representation.

1. Its lofty conspicuousness.

(1) It is clearly expounded in the Word of God, which every one may read in his own tongue.

(2) It is openly proclaimed by the ministers of God, who are commanded to preach it everywhere.

(3) It is pre-eminent in the earth, as actually attracting the attention of mankind, even among the wisest and most advanced nations.

2. Its wide embrace. The heavens encompass and enclose all the earth. So that the people at the antipodes see the same sun and moon and stars that we see. What an emblem of the comprehensiveness of the Gospel!

3. The almighty sovereignty. The heavens rule the earth physically: so God’s mercy governs all the events of mankind. His dominion, through Christ, rules everything in the Church, and subordinates everything in the world. Think of His benign character, His holy law, His gracious purposes: and then see how He can abase the proud, reward the wicked, avenge the just.

4. Its settled stability. Christ reigns on high, and maintains His majesty and state, undisturbed by worldly tumults, darknesses, and changes.

How to be contemplated.

1. With ardent admiration, delight, and confidence.

2. With cheerful submission.

3. With watchful care to please God: for He is over us everywhere.

4. With hope as to the future: for He must bring final victory to the good and true, and reign till all foes are under His feet. (Anon.)

The immensity of mercy

The moral character and number of its objects.

The grand purpose of its operations. Why does it exercise itself towards this universe of sinners? In one word--to restore them to the image, the friendship, and the blessedness of God.

The extraordinary means it employs.

1. The gift of Christ.

2. The preaching of the Gospel.

3. The ministry of Providence.

4. The agency of the Spirit.

The countless multitudes it has saved. John in his day beheld multitudes which no man could number, etc.

The exhaustless provisions which remain.

1. Equal to the emergency of the greatest sinner. Magdalene, the thief, Saul, the sinners on the day of Pentecost, etc.

2. Equal to the emergency of all the sinners that will ever be. (Homilist.)

Verse 12

Psalms 108:12

Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.

Help in trouble

A very common experience. “Trouble.”

1. Bodily.

2. Family.

3. Church.

4. Heath.

A very certain resource. Betaking ourselves to God in prayer.

1. The resource itself. God. He knows all our troubles. He is ever graciously disposed to help and comfort His people.

2. How the resource is available. By prayer. It may be very short--a mere fragment. But it must be the prayer of conscious need, and of believing supplication.

A very evident truth. “For vain is the help of man.” Good men may give us wise counsel, and they may sympathize sincerely and tenderly, and they may pray for us, and thus be instrumental of good to our souls; but they can neither sustain us in trouble, nor sanctify our sorrows, nor deliver us out of our afflictions.

1. They cannot control our circumstances. But God can; He alone disposes of the conditions of men--raiseth up, or casteth down--enriches, or impoverishes--sends prosperity, or adversity--joy, or grief.

2. They cannot drive back our enemies. Either those in the world, or our spiritual ones; but God can; He can enable us effectually to resist both, and to triumph over them.

3. They cannot turn our afflictions into a blessing. But God can; He is able “out of the eater to bring forth meat, and out of the strong to bring forth sweetness.”

4. They cannot deliver us from our troubles. Look at Abraham on the mount with Isaac! Jacob meeting Esau! Israelites on way to Red Seal Daniel in den of lions! Hebrews in the fiery furnace! Peter in prison--Paul in the stocks! In all these cases vain would have been the skill and power of man; but God did deliver each and all of them; and He will deliver those who pub their trust in Him. (J. Burns, D. D.)

Human help is of no avail

About twenty years ago a fisherman on the way to his boat met his little boy, who pleaded with him to be taken on the little voyage across to the neighbouring island. The fisherman looked at the waves; they had begun to pub on their white caps of wrath, and the swell of the sea had commenced, and he hesitated; but at last he allowed his boy to go. All seemed well in the smack, till half way across a sudden squall caught the canvas and flung the father and his assistant into the deep. They caught hold of the rope that attached the little boat behind the smack, and climbed in and were saved. Looking back, they saw the smack on her beam end, filling rapidly, and a pale, white little face, the face of the little boy at the cabin window. He had been sent down below when the squall had come. The father, in desperation, flung himself on the sinking smack. One blow of his strong fist shattered the window, and the little face there still looked out, but he cannot escape: what could the father do? The window is too small. The man was nearly demented; he tried to tear the beams from the sinking vessel, but they were too strong; and the little boy, in his homely Scotch, said, “Daddy, save me, help me.” Deeper and deeper, the smack turned on her side; and the tears streamed down the little white face, and down the face of the despairing father. At last he cried, “God help thee, my laddie, I canna.” Down went the smack, with a gurgle and a foaming bubble, and that was all. That father never went to sea again. Twenty years passed, and on his death-bed it was the same cry, “God help thee, my laddie, I canna.” Dear soul, you are in greater danger than that little fisher-lad. You’re sinking! God help you, you immortal soul, you’re sinking; and I cannot help you, your father can’t, your mother can’t. God help thee (J. Robertson.)


Verse 13

Psalms 108:13

Through God we shall do valiantly.

Assurance of the Church’s victory

1. Whatsoever may be the variety of the exercises of faith, victory and triumph shall close the war, and crown the wrestler.

2. Albeit the means be nothing but vanity without God, yet they must be used, for they are something when they are used by us, and put in God’s hand.

3. What the Lord doth by the believer as His servant, or by any other instrument, God must have the glory of it.

4. The faith of the Church’s victory over her enemies is grounded upon God’s engaging in the war for the Church, and against our enemies. (D. Dickson.)

Faith’s impossible feats

We need the courage of those ancient soldiers who were wont to regard difficulties only as whetstones upon which to sharpen their swords. I like Alexander’s balk--when they said there were so many thousands, so many millions, perhaps, of Persians. “Very well,” said he, “it is good reaping where the corn is thick. One butcher is not afraid of a thousand sheep.” I like even the talk of the old Gascon who said, when they asked him, “Can you and your troops get into that fortress? it is impregnable.” “Can the sun enter in?” said he. “Yes.” “Well, where the sun can go we will enter.” Whatever is possible, or whatever is impossible, Christians can do at God’s command, for God is with us. (C. H. Spurgeon.)


Psalms 109:1-31

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 108". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tbi/psalms-108.html. 1905-1909. New York.
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