A Hymn of War and Victory.
To the chief musician upon Shushaneduth, to be chanted in public worship according to the melody “The Lily of Testimony,” this tune indicating also the contents of the psalm as referring to God’s faithfulness in preserving His people and granting the armies of Israel victory, Michtam of David, a poem in epigrammatic form, to teach; when he strove with Aram-naharaim, that is, with Mesopotamia beyond the Euphrates, and with Aram-zobah, the Syria of Zobah, 2 Sam. 10, when Joab returned and smote of Edom, whose armies had invaded Canaan from the south, 2 Sam. 8, 13, in the Valley of Salt, near the southwestern end of the Dead Sea, twelve thousand. David, as king, was commander-in-chief of the armies of Israel, the victory therefore being credited to him, but Joab was the general of the army, and he dispatched his brother Abishai, the commander of this expedition, which, as it seems, slew twelve thousand Edomites in one battle and a total of eighteen thousand in the entire campaign, 2 Sam. 8, 13; 1 Chron. 18, 12. V. 1. O God, Thou hast cast us off, this being the conclusion David arrived at from the fact of Edom’s invasion; Thou hast scattered us, literally, “broken us,” that is, overwhelmed, overthrown them by this incursion of the enemies; Thou hast been displeased, the visitation having the appearance of an angry punishment on the part of God. O turn Thyself to us again, literally, “Give restoration to us,” giving evidence once more of His grace and favor. V. 2. Thou hast made the earth to tremble; Thou hast broken it, the picture being that of all Canaan upset by an earthquake, to which this visitation was compared. Heal the breaches thereof, the losses caused by the enemy’s inroads, which were like the rents torn by an earthquake; for it shaketh, the entire country resembling a tottering building, in danger of collapse. And still another picture David uses to set forth the plight of stricken Israel. V. 3. Thou hast showed Thy people hard things, laid a heavy burden upon them; Thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment, the wine of His wrath, which is intoxication, said of the commotion, of the internal confusion of spirit and of the bodily weakness, for all this had been brought about by the news of Edom’s advance. At the same time, David did not yield to utter despair; he clung to his confidence in the Lord. V. 4. Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, to which they could flee, around which they could rally, that it may be displayed because of the truth, lifted up to inspire Israel with new courage, so that they would trust in the sustaining power of His almighty hand and rely upon the faithful promises which God had made in His holiness. Selah. V. 5. That Thy beloved, the children of God’s love, the people of Israel, may be delivered, save with Thy right hand, the symbol of His almighty power, and hear me. The plea having been made, David now continues in a strain of victory, anticipating the joy over the overthrow of the Edomites. V. 6. God hath spoken in His holiness, by which He upheld Israel’s possession of the Promised Land. I will rejoice, exulting in the possession of the complete victory which was sure to come to Israel; I will divide Shechem, in the center of the country west of Jordan, as representing Canaan proper, and mete out the Valley of Succoth, east of Jordan, his measuring out of the land showing him to be in undisputed possession of it. V. 7. Gilead is mine and Manasseh is mine, representing the northeastern section of the country held by the children of Israel; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head, his helmet, for this tribe had obtained the right of the first-born, Gen. 48, 5. 19; 1 Chron. 5, 1; Judah is my lawgiver, his scepter, for the kings of Judah were of the family of David, the descendant of Judah, and they were the bearers of the Messianic promise, 1 Chron. 5, 2; v. 8. Moab, here mentioned by way of contrast, is my wash-pot, being obliged to perform the work of a servant in holding a wash-basin for the king; over Edom will I cast out my shoe, to indicate that this country was reduced to the rank of a slave; Philistia, triumph thou because of me, rather, “cry aloud,” as one who has been overcome and is now wailing in anguish and terror. The victory being so certain, the conqueror is eager to start on his victorious march. V. 9. Who will bring me into the strong city, the capital of the Idumeans, the renowned fortress Petra? Who will lead me into Edom? V. 10. Wilt not Thou, O God, to whom he here confidently turns, which hadst cast us off, as he had complained in v. 1, and Thou, O God, which didst not go out with our armies? by permitting this reversal to strike them. V. 11. Give us help from trouble, affording them deliverance from the enemy; for vain is the help of man, this conviction being the basis of every trustful prayer. V. 12. Through God we shall do valiantly, sure of winning the victory; for He it is that shall tread down our enemies. “Israel conquers in God, and God, who is in Israel, will deservedly trample Edom under foot through Israel.” (Delitzsch.) That is the nature of a true prayer, that it is certain of the best fulfillment by virtue of God’s favor; for God’s answer to the prayer of believers always accords with their best interests.