A Prayer for Victory!
Psalm 108 is a prayer that has been compiled from two other psalms. Verses 2-6 are virtually the same as verses 8-12 in Psalm 57, and verses 7-14 in Psalm 108 are the same as verses 7-14 in Psalm 60. The old promise of salvation is revealed in verses 8-10, and this is combined with confident assurances in verses 2-6 and a petition in lines 12-13. The psalm functions as a prayer for victory.
Like all good prayer, it begins with praise for God. David says he will praise God at dawn and sing it to all peoples and to all nations. Why? Because David has experienced God’s mercy, a mercy that surely is greater than even all the heavens above. He has experienced God’s faithfulness, even though he did not deserve it because of his sins.
In the middle of the psalm we see the first petition for God’s help. There is a threat to the security of Israel and David is calling on God to protect them with his right hand, to help them escape from the dangers that threaten them. And the prayer ends with reiterating that petition, “Give us aid against the enemy; for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our foes.” (verses 12-13)
How many times have we felt the need to pray in this manner? Have we not found ourselves in situations now and then that have threatened to overwhelm us? Have we not gone many times to God in desperation asking for his aid?
There is an old aphorism that says, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” I know this reality. I can remember praying desperately for God’s aid in the dark depths of our bunker at Khe Sanh during the siege of the Tet Offensive of 1968. Surrounded by a far superior force, we were bombarded almost every day with heavy artillery, mortar and rocket fire. I am sure that I was not the only one that was praying in this manner for God’s aid to protect us, to get us out of that mess. David’s prayer here reminds me of that. We do this not just because of fear, but because, even in our fear, we still have a deep trust in God’s faithfulness. True, his ways are beyond us and his answers to our prayers may be inscrutable, but we still trust that he holds us in the palm of his hand. It was during that time at Khe Sanh that I began to understand this kind of prayer. It was also there that I began to pray the simplest of all prayers. “Thy will be done.”
Lord, help us to always recognize that you are with us. Give us the faith to recognize, even in our most desperate times, that you answer our prayers of petition with your wisdom, your mercy, and your love. Make our faith strong enough to say to you at all times; “Into your hands, I commit my spirit.” (Psalm 31:5 and Luke 23:46) Amen!
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