“With God we will perform valiantly; He will trample our foes.” (Psalm 108:13 HCSB)
We have a tendency to want to bring the Bible down to the level of our experience, rather than elevating our experience to the level of the Bible. I once heard a preacher say that, for most, their Christian life is like an old iron bedstead—firm on both ends, and sagging in the middle! We are firm on the end of salvation—we know we have come to Christ. We are firm on the end of eternity—we know we are going to heaven. It is in this in-between time where we are sagging! But, shouldn’t the grace that brings us to the sweet by and by, work in the nasty now and now?
At this point, we likely want to do one of two things:
1) Stop reading. We know this is right, we’ve tried to do better, and it hasn’t worked. We feel guilty, so we just ask forgiveness, accept failure and move on. After all, nobody’s perfect.
2) Try harder. We know this is right, and even though we’ve tried and failed before, maybe it will work next time, if only we make more effort. So we clench our teeth, set our jaw, bow our back, flex our muscles and head out to show the world what a Christian really is. After all, doesn’t God help those who help themselves?
Wrong—on both counts! God has something other than defeat for us—that is unworthy of a child of God. But, neither can that victory be won in our own effort. Accepting failure or making fleshly effort—neither is Biblical. Living triumphantly is God’s standard and comes from God’s strength!
David didn’t always follow that principle. There were times his faith failed and he fell into the “woe is me” syndrome. But, he could not stay there. Then, there were occasions where he tried to rely on his own power and that didn’t work, but he learned the lesson and looked to the Lord.
In 2 Samuel 24, we read how David arrogantly leaned on his military might. He wanted to boast in his army—and it blew up in his face. God humbled him. Discipline instructed him. They say, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Maybe—but, you can remind him of tricks he has already been taught. That experience drove David back down to dependence on God. Whether Psalm 108 was composed out of that specific event we do not know, but it certainly suits the context.
In this Psalm, David feels God has abandoned him. He sees the enemy surrounding him. But, he doesn’t choose flight and make a run for it in fear, neither does he choose to fight and take a stand in the flesh. What he does is choose faith, and looks to the Lord to rise up and bring victory. That is the only way to elevate our sagging experience to be as firm as our past conversion and our future glory.
TESTIMONY: AN EXPRESSION OF CONFIDENCE IN GOD (v.1-9). In these verses David affirms God’s power to deliver. If you don’t believe God can, then God won’t. The world says, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” but God says, “You’ll see it when you believe it.”
IT IS A TESTIMONY THAT EXPRESSES PRAISE.
“My heart is confident, God; I will sing; I will sing praises with the whole of my being. Wake up, harp and lyre! I will wake up the dawn. I will praise You, Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your faithful love is higher than the heavens, and Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. God, be exalted above the heavens, and let Your glory be over the whole earth.” (v.1-5)
The sweet singer of Israel awakens every cell of his being in greeting the day by meeting the Lord. He doesn’t start out with dread, but devotion. He sets the note of harmony with God’s glory. The focus is on God’s faithfulness—and that is unalterable and unconquerable! Praise is faith verbalized. How do you begin your day? Do you greet the Lord with joy, before you meet the demands of the day?
IT IS A TESTIMONY THAT EVOKES PRAYER.
“Save with Your right hand and answer me so that those You love may be rescued.” (v.6)
When we focus on God, our faith in Him grows and we are stirred to pray. If we are not careful, we might focus on our challenges, and the more we talk about them, the more immense they seem to be. This breeds fret rather than faith. But, if we focus on God’s greatness first, then faith roots out fret. Such faith is a launching pad, that rockets us beyond the gravity of our burdens, and lifts us to heaven itself where the payload is delivered to God. Then we can re-enter earth’s atmosphere confidently.
IT IS A TESTIMONY THAT EXUDES PROMISE.
“God has spoken in His sanctuary: ‘I will triumph! I will divide up Shechem. I will apportion the
If God says it, we can believe it! His promises are steadfast and sure. Notice that David doesn’t boast on what he will do, but it is God who says, “I will…I will…I will” in declaring what He will do. He will not forsake His people. God describes them in terms of victory—a helmet of protection and a scepter of power. God defines their foes in terms of the vanquished—a washbasin fit only to wash nasty feet and the ignominy of throwing His sandal on them, which was a sign of contempt in that culture. This is God’s victory. The enemy may be mighty as related to our ability, but is no match for the Almighty!
Not only does this Psalm contain testimony: an expression of confidence in God, but TESTING: AN EXCLAMATION OF CONFESSION TO GOD (v.10-11). In these verses David acknowledges his poverty to deliver. When we come to the end of ourselves, that is where we find God. The Lord told Paul that His strength was perfected in the Apostle’s weakness (see 2 Cor.12:9-10). This is the test—will we rely on self-effort or rest in God’s strength?
IT IS A CONFESSION CONCERING DIRECTION.
“Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to
The enemy is out there, but David doesn’t feel qualified to lead the army—and that is a good thing. This is an acknowledgement that we are not wise enough to chart our course. The word is, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Why should we seek to lean on our dim understanding, when we can look to Omniscience?
IT IS A CONFESSION CONCERNING REJECTION.
“God, haven't You rejected us? God, You do not march out with our armies.” (v.11)
The enemy is not the problem—God is the problem! They had failed Him and that insured their failure in the fight. If God is with us we can win, but if He doesn’t march with us then there is only abject defeat! But, this confession can drive us to our knees so we cry out to God for forgiveness, and experience future victory. Why would we try to overcome in our puny power, when we can lean on Omnipotence?
This Psalm has a message of testimony: an expression of confidence in God, testing: an exclamation of confession to God, and, furthermore, TRIUMPH: AN EXPECTATION OF CONQUEST THROUGH GOD (v.12-13). In these verses David attests God’s purpose to deliver. We do not have to pray, “God, if it be your will, help me to live triumphantly.” It is His intended purpose for all of us!
THE VANITY OF HUMAN HELP.
“Give us aid against the foe, for human help is worthless.” (v.12)
While it is true that God will use people to accomplish His purposes—it is God and not people that are really working. My hand, unattached from my body is of no use, but connected to my arm and directed by my brain, it can do many things. So, we must be connected to Christ, our Head, if we are going to have the power to do what we need to do. Otherwise, we are useless. That is the vanity of human help.
THE VALUE OF HEAVENLY HELP.
“With God we will perform valiantly; He will trample our foes.” (v.13)
The valiant warrior is the one who has God dynamically working in them and through them. Our performance demands His power. If we have a car, sitting in our driveway, but there is no engine—it is only an expensive ornament. But, with a motor and fuel, there is performance—and we can get somewhere! God wants to take you somewhere—to victory! This is His purpose. He did not send His Son into the world just to enable you to escape hell and enter heaven—though thankfully, He did that—but His desire is for you to overcome the forces of hell here and establish a beachhead for the kingdom of heaven now.
Triumphant living is the birthright of every child of the King. The old hymn speaks to the need to lean on Jesus:
“Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.”