My heart is steadfast, O God;
I will sing and make music with all my soul.
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies (Psalm 108:1, 2, 13)
This psalm offers us unique insight into the spiritual practices of ancient Israel and, as such, it ought to inform our own spirituality and faith in God.
It is commonly understood that Book 5 of the Psalms (Psalms 107-150) was compiled after the Israelites returned from the Babylonians exile (598-538 BC). As the Jews trickled back into Palestine, they began to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple of God. With the rebuilding emerged a new tradition of worship at the temple site.
The psalms gathered together as Book 5 were part of the worship renewal. These words, melded together from Psalms 57 and 60, offer us some insight into this new period in Israel’s history.
Verse 1-5 are a double declaration. On the one hand the psalm declares that God is great and exalted among all the nations. Though this is a note often strummed in the psalter, it is worth repeating. In a world in which we know every horror that is happening everywhere, it is easy to forgot this basic Christian declaration.
The Apostle’s Creed’s opening declaration, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth’ is a very succinct declaration of this theme.
The second theme of these opening verses is the psalmist’s declaration that he will praise and exalt this God. If fact, he will be so bold as to awaken the dawn. His first and foremost task of the day is the praise of God!
One gets the impression in the opening words that the psalmist is having a ‘good week’. But then we discover (6) that Israel is in trouble. God has promised the land to Israel, but they do not possess it yet. As returned exiles, they have little and less. Only a little trouble will snuff them out again.
This is a far cry from the normal North American response to trouble, “Where is God?” Here Israel teaches us a different way of life.
When things are not as they should be, Israel’s worship leaders are teaching their people to do two things. First, not to complain but to worship. This is reminiscent of Israel marching around Jericho’s walls before they had fallen.
Second, Israel is taught to remind God of His promises. Verses 7-9 recall what God promised long ago. So her prayer becomes, “God, its time you kept your promises.” If God is indeed Israel’s mighty covenant God than He will surely keep his promises.
As you meditate on this psalm notice the robust prayers that arise out of the knowledge of God’s character and promises.
Your Friend & God’s Friend,
Psalm 108:1, 2,13