Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 108 was composed by combining part of Psalm 57 with part of Psalm 60. An original poem it is not! But it does remind us that old prayers can be reformatted and recycled to fit new and changing conditions of our lives.
In this psalm, the poet is among the nations, singing to the God of Israel (v. 3). Presumably, he is in exile, perhaps Babylon. From that location, he views God not as the local God of Israel, but as the God who has travelled with him to a foreign land. He states that God’s mercy and truth reach to the heavens, covering all the earth: homeland and land of exile and everything in between. God’s presence encompasses the world.
But the poet’s mind and heart are drawn to his homeland, to the Promised Land. He thinks of God in relation to familiar places like Gilead and Manasseh, to tribal territories like Ephraim and Judah. He quotes God’s rude comments about the local enemies, as God says, “Moab is my washpot, over Edom I cast out my sandal” (vv. 8-9).
Then the poet remembers his present desperate plight and prays:
Is it not you, God, who have rejected us,
and no longer go out with our armies?
Give us aid against the enemy,
for human help is worthless.
With God we shall gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies (vv. 11-13).
Our father, the poet reminds us that the whole earth is yours. With him, we see your glory in the clouds that sail over all the world–over ancient Ethiopia, riven by famine and violence; over Syria, largely destroyed by recent war; over your ancient land of Israel, with its confusion of traditional orthodox Jews, modern liberal Jews, Palestinian Arabs, and endless variations.
The poet also reminds us that in this big and dangerous world, you care for your people. Wherever we are captive to identity politics and racial injustice; wherever dictators rule by coercion and violence; wherever we walk that narrow line between use and abuse of creation; we do so under the heavens you built, under the clouds that remind us of your faithfulness, under the blue sky you fixed above us and the sun that is the source of our energy.
The poet reminds us that in this journey, human help is worthless. James says, human wrath will never achieve God’s righteousness (Jas. 1:20). Help us with the poet to see you always present in creation, to pray for your help in the complex politics of our world, to worship you with a steadfast heart, and to trust ourselves to your glory, which is over all the earth (vv. 1-5).
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.