Psalm 108 – “Petition for Military Success”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
The psalmist praises God and asks him to fulfill his promise of military success.

II. Photo
The psalmist complains: “But You have rejected us, O God; God, You do not march with our armies!” (v. 12)

III. Select Verses    
2: My heart is firm, O God; I will sing and chant a hymn with all my soul.
8-10: God promised in His sanctuary that I would exultingly divide up Shechem, and measure the Valley of Sukkoth; Gilead and Manasseh would be mine, Ephraim my chief stronghold, Judah my scepter; Moab would be my washbasin; on Edom I would cast my shoe; I would raise a shout over Philistia.
12-13: But You have rejected us, O God; God, You do not march with our armies. Grant us Your aid against the foe, for the help of man is worthless.
14: With God we shall triumph; He will trample our foes.

IV. Outline

1. Superscription
2-7. Hymn
    2-4. Declaration of praise
    5. Rationale
    6. Wish
    7. Rationale
8-10. Oracle
11. Wish
12. Complaint
13. Petition and rationale
14. Hope / affirmation of confidence

V. Comment
Psalm 108 is a prime example of how some psalms were composed with interchangeable parts. The first portion of Psalm 108 can be found, with only minor differences, in Psalm 57, and the second portion can be found in Psalm 60:

Psalm 108:2-6

  • My heart is firm, O God; I will sing and chant a hymn with all my soul.
  • Awake, O harp and lyre! I will wake the dawn.
  • I will praise You among the peoples, O LORD, sing a hymn to You among the nations;
  • for Your faithfulness is higher than the heavens; Your steadfastness reaches to the sky.
  • Exalt Yourself over the heavens, O God; let Your glory be over all the earth!

Psalm 57:8-12

  • My heart is firm, O God; my heart is firm; I will sing, I will chant a hymn.
  • Awake, O my soul! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will wake the dawn.
  • I will praise You among the peoples, O LORD; I will sing a hymn to You among the nations;
  • for Your faithfulness is as high as heaven; Your steadfastness reaches to the sky.
  • Exalt Yourself over the heavens, O God, let Your glory be over all the earth!

Psalm 108:7-14

  • That those whom You love may be rescued, deliver with Your right hand and answer me.
  • God promised in His sanctuary that I would exultingly divide up Shechem, and measure the Valley of Sukkoth;
  • Gilead and Manasseh would be mine, Ephraim my chief stronghold, Judah my scepter;
  • Moab would be my washbasin; on Edom I would cast my shoe; I would raise a shout over Philistia.
  • Would that I were brought to the bastion! Would that I were led to Edom!
  • But You have rejected us, O God; God, You do not march with our armies.
  • Grant us Your aid against the foe, for the help of man is worthless.
  • With God we shall triumph; He will trample our foes.

Ps 60:7-14

  • That those whom You love might be rescued, deliver with Your right hand and answer me.
  • God promised in His sanctuary that I would exultingly divide up Shechem, and measure the Valley of Sukkoth;
  • Gilead and Manasseh would be mine, Ephraim my chief stronghold, Judah my scepter;
  • Moab would be my washbasin; on Edom I would cast my shoe; acclaim me, O Philistia!
  • Would that I were brought to the bastion! Would that I were led to Edom!
  • But You have rejected us, O God; God, You do not march with our armies.
  • Grant us Your aid against the foe, for the help of man is worthless.
  • With God we shall triumph; He will trample our foes.

Passages such as these lead Gersternberger to write: “This fact in itself may irritate those readers who cling to a modern (and very wrong) concept of psalm authorship, as if the psalms were private compositions or literary pamphlets under some copyright rules. Much in contrast to our customs, psalms were liturgical texts to be used in worship gatherings or related ceremonies. And, according to the needs and insights of the congregations and their leaders, the songs and prayers were freely combined in specific liturgical situations. Other examples of ‘double’ use of some psalm texts can be studied with Psalms 14 and 53; 70; 18 (see 2 Samuel 22), etc.” (253-254)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Gerstenberger, Erhard. Psalms Part 2 and Lamentations (Forms of Old Testament Literature; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001).
Photo copied from http://www.highfillperformancegroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/army-marching.jpg

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