Daybreak: Psalms 108:1 through 109:31
“Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man. Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.” (Psalm 108:12-13)
During World War II, the compassionate and devout family of watchmaker Casper ten Boom provided refuge for people fleeing the Nazi secret police in Holland. A small secret area was created behind one wall of daughter Corrie’s tiny bedroom on the uppermost story of the family home. Access to this thirty-inch deep hiding place was gained by crawling on hands and knees through a cupboard’s panel, which was carefully stained on the exterior to blend with its surroundings. With ventilation to the outside, this tiny cubicle could temporarily hold a handful of refugees. Often as many as seven people — Jews and members of the Dutch underground — were housed in the ten Boom home. The family and their associated contacts within the network of the Haarlem underground saved the lives of an estimated eight hundred Jews, and protected many Dutch underground workers.
Because of their involvement in sheltering “enemies” of the Third Reich, the ten Boom home was raided in early 1944, and all members of the family were imprisoned. When Corrie’s eighty-four-year-old
father was asked if he knew he could be killed for helping Jews, he replied, “It would be an honor to give my life for God’s ancient people.” He died after only ten days in prison. Some family members were subsequently released, but Corrie and her sister, Betsie, remained incarcerated. During their imprisonment they were moved to three different prisons, the last being the infamous Ravensbrück concentration camp near Berlin, Germany.
While incarcerated, Corrie and Betsie shared God’s love with their fellow prisoners, reading Scriptures and praying with them, and many were led to Christ. Through their spiritual focus and steadfast commitment to God, the two encouraged their fellow prisoners and were able to avoid sinking to the level of their captors.
Corrie and her sister proved the truth of our focus verse: that “through God we shall do valiantly.” Although Betsie died at Ravensbrück, she never relinquished her trust in God. And Corrie survived. After her miraculous release, Corrie realized that life was a gift, and she needed to share what she and Betsie had learned. She began an international ministry that took her into more than sixty countries in the next thirty-two years. She testified frequently that their strength and courage came from the power of God — He was the divine Source which enabled them to endure and triumph over the evil of their enemies. She was tireless in proclaiming the message that “Jesus is Victor!”
Though we may go through trials here in this life, God can give us strength and courage to “do valiantly” in the face of every foe. Like Corrie and Betsie ten Boom, we can be confident that our ultimate deliverance is sure!
Psalm 108 is comprised of the endings of two previous psalms. Verses 1-5 are taken from Psalm 57:7-11, which tells of David’s determination to trust God while fleeing from King Saul in the desert of En- Gedi (1 Samuel 24). Verse 5, which concludes this portion, gives the purpose of this psalm: to exalt God with the highest praise and honor.
Verses 6-13 are from Psalm 60:5-12, in which David expressed his confidence in God’s deliverance in spite of troubling military circumstances. (Compar-ing the historical accounts in 2 Samuel 8:13-14, 1 Kings 11:15-16, and 1 Chronicles 18:12-13 reveals that while David was fighting with his army in the north against the Ammonites and Syrians, he received word that the Edomites had attacked their nation from the south.) In verses 7-9, David related that God had said He would conquer all the land of Canaan, including the nations within (“Shechem”) and the nations without (“Succoth”). He had also said He would bring back those who followed Saul (Gilead and Manasseh), make Ephraim His army, and establish Judah as the seat of His government. Moab would be a servant (one who washes feet), Edom a slave (one who carries shoes), and Philistia a trophy. In verses 10-13, David acknowledged that such a victory could not be accomplished by man alone, but he was certain that with God’s help, they would prevail.
Psalm 109 is a prayer ascribed to David, in which he asked God to defend him against his enemies and reward them according to their sinful deeds. It is dedicated to the chief Musician; the term “natsach” (translated as “chief Musician”) occurs in the titles of fifty-five psalms, all but two of which were authored by David.
Psalm 109 is the last of the imprecatory psalms, and expresses special indignation against liars and slanderers. The background for this psalm is not established, but it may have been Saul’s persecution of David instigated by Doeg, or Absalom’s rebellion and the treachery of Ahithophel. In either case, the psalmist’s complaint clearly was set in historical circumstances and was not just a general cry to God for the punishment of the wicked.
The maledictions (curses or calling down of judgment) in this psalm must be understood in context of the Old Testament revelation of God and His ways, compared to Christ’s New Testament teachings of love and justice. For example, David asked in verse 6 that his enemy be ruled by a “wicked man” and that Satan would “stand at his right hand,” a position typically taken by a trusted counselor or advisor. In verse 11, he pleaded that the extortioner would “catch” (or seize) all that his enemy had. The statement that strangers would “spoil” his enemy’s labor could be translated “plunder the fruits of his toil.”
In verses 21-31, the psalmist turned from contemplating vengeance upon his enemies to a consideration of the goodness of God and his hope for vindication. As is often the case in psalms of lament, David ended with a vow to praise God, his great Defender.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
A Closer Look
- In Psalm 108:1, what do you think the phrase “My heart is fixed” means?
- In Psalm 109:21, how does the psalmist seek justice?
- David’s calls for vengeance against his enemies were based upon the Old Testament revelation of God and His ways. In the light of our New Testament dispensation and Christ’s teachings of love and justice, how should we treat those who falsely accuse or persecute us?
We may encounter cruel people or face unjust persecution along life’s pathway. However, we know that God will mete out ultimate justice. In the meantime, He can give us strength and grace to endure!