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Bible Commentaries

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Psalms 108

Psalms 108

The Psalmist, or rather the church of the Lord in whose name he speaks, expresses her firm confidence in her God, and praises him because of the fulness of his mercy and truth, Psalms 108:2-6; entreats him to impart his salvation, and founds this prayer upon the firm ground of the word and promise of God by which Israel is assured of perpetual possession of his land, and victory over the neighbouring nations, Psalms 108:7-10; and expresses, in looking at this promise, the hope that the expedition against Edom, about to be undertaken, may be brought to a prosperous termination, Psalms 108:11-13.

The Psalm falls into three strophes, each of four verses, Psalms 108:1-4, Psalms 108:6-9, Psalms 108:10-13, containing thus among them the significant number twelve. With the addition of the title and the doxology, which terminates the first strophe, Psalms 108:5, there are in all fourteen verses. The name of God occurs in all seven times, and the seven is divided by a three and a four; in the first, or introductory part, Jehovah is between Elohim on each side, and in the second part Elohim occurs four times.

The first strophe is borrowed with alterations from Psalms 57:7-11, and the second and third from Psalms 60:5-12. That these constituent portions of two Psalms are not put together as on an equal footing, but that we have before us rather a variation of the (Psalms 60) 60th Psalm of which the introduction is taken from another Psalm, is evident from the fact that the number of verses and also of strophes of four verses each which distinguished the (Psalms 60) 60th Psalm, is retained here. The title and the doxology in Psalms 108:5 here correspond to the title of the (Psalms 60) 60th Psalm, which consists of two verses.

That this variation of the (Psalms 60) 60th Psalm proceeded from David is manifest from the title, “A Song of Praise, a Psalm of David,” the originality of which is manifest from its connection with I will sing and play, Psalms 108:1, from its being necessary to the formal organization of the Psalm, its addition being required to make the number of verses the same as that of Psalms 60. Besides, we have to add the analogy of all the other doubled Psalms; comp. at Psalms 14, Psalms 8, Psalms 11, Psalms 70. In addition, it may be observed, that while all the variations bear the marks of design, there does not occur a single one which could have been intended to adapt the Psalm to the relations of later times.

The object for which David made this variation may be ascertained from the most significant of the alterations, one around which the rest are merely clustered as associates. In room of the introductory strophe in the (Psalms 60) 60th Psalm, containing the acknowledgment of the deliverance already imparted, David desired to substitute the words with which he had on another occasion, on the most mournful event of his life, given expression to his confidence and joy in the time of Saul, because these words, so gloriously verified in their consequences, came from his heart; all the feelings which had belonged to that time were along with these words transferred to the present occasion.

David employed this variation of the (Psalms 60) 60th Psalm as an introduction to a trilogy which should represent the contest and the victory of Israel, and as immediately connected therewith, of his own family. In this connection the Psalm loses its original special reference: Edom becomes the type of the enemies of the kingdom of God and of David. Allusion is made to this disjunction of the Psalm from its immediate historical occasion by the omission of the title of Psalms 60, which announces the occasion at length and exactly.

This Davidic Psalm must have been very consolatory and elevating to the church at its return from the Babylonish captivity, when still weak and only in partial possession of the land, that, too, merely as a servant, and generally in a very depressed state in reference to the world around.

Verses 1-5

Title. Ver. 1-5.

Title. A song of praise, a Psalm by David. Ver. 1. Firm is my heart, O God, I will sing praise and play, even my glory. Ver. 2. Wake up, harp and psaltery, I will awaken the morning. Ver. 3. I will praise thee among the nations, O Lord, and play to thee among the people. Ver. 4. For great from heaven is thy mercy, and even to the clouds thy truth. Ver. 5. Praise to thee, O God, in the heaven, and upon the whole earth glory to thee.

In Psalms 108:5, the second “my heart is fixed,” of Psalms 57 is left out. A skipping expression of joyful confidence like this was suitable only in connection with what went before. Even my glory shall sing praise to thee, not only the mouth, but also the soul, whose praise is acceptable to God, because it is glory, comp. Psalms 30:12, Psalms 50:5. In Psalms 57, “wake up my glory.” Those translations which differ from the above, are to be rejected on the ground that they are removed from the fundamental passage.

In Psalms 108:4 there is a designed variation: instead of “even to heaven” in Psalms 57, we have “down from heaven,” in reference to “ praise to thee in heaven,” of Psalms 108:5. The על denotes there the place where the Lord should be praised. He shall be praised in the heaven and upon the earth, because his mercy is made known down from heaven, םעל , desuper, upon the children of men.

Verses 6-9

The expression of confidence grounded upon all that the church had hitherto experienced of the mercy of her God, is followed by the prayer, Psalms 108:6-9, for the communication of salvation, founded upon the glorious promises which God had given her. Ver. 6. In order that thy beloved may be delivered, help with thy right hand, and hear me. Ver. 7. God has spoken in his holiness, therefore will I shout for joy, divide Shechem and measure out the valley of Succoth. Ver. 8. Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine, and Ephraim the strength of my head, Judah my lawgiver. Ver. 9. Moab is my washing pot, on Edom cast my shoe, over Philistia I shall rejoice.

In Psalms 108:6, instead of “hear us,” in Psalms 60, there stands, “hear me.” It is the church of the Lord that speaks; both expressions, therefore, are in reality the same,

In the eighth verse the (Psalms 60) 60th Psalm has ולי , and mine.

In Psalms 60:9 th the (Psalms 60) 60th Psalm has: Philistia, rejoice at me. The expression here is not an explanation but a variation. The one flows from the other.

Verses 10-13

In the third strophe, Psalms 108:10-13, we have the hope of assistance against Edom, grounded on the divine promises, and the prayer for the same. Ver. 10. Who will bring me to the strong city, who conduct me to Edom? Ver. 11. Wilt not thou, O God, who hast cast us of, and “goest not forth, 19 God, among our armies.” Ver. 12. Give us help against the enemy; and deceitful is human help. Ver. 13. In God we will do valiantly, and he will tread down our enemies.

In Psalms 108:10 we have the usual מבצר instead of the rare מצור .

In Psalms 108:11 the אתה is left out: (will) not God (do it); and then there is the sudden transition to the address.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 108". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/heg/psalms-108.html.