Trusting and Triumphing
(6) God has spoken in his holiness (from his sanctuary): “I will exult. I will divide Shechem and measure out the valley of Succoth. (7) Gilead (is) mine, and Manasseh (is) mine. Ephraim is my helmet. Judah is my scepter. (8) Moab is my washbasin. Over Edom I toss my sandal. Over Philistia I shout in triumph.” (9) Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom? (10) Have you not rejected us, God? Will you not go out, God, with our armies? (11) Give us help against the enemy, for useless (is) the deliverance of man. (12) With God we will do valiantly, for he will trample down our enemies.
Two words are repeated in this segment: “God” (Elohim) used four times (vs. 6, twice in vs. 10, & vs. 12) and “enemy/enemies” found twice (vss. 11 & 12). In the first three verses David pictures God declaring his sovereignty over Israel and all the territories that border the Promised Land (vss. 6-8). He does this by what he declares and by the way he acts.
In this second set of verses, David prays the same way he did in the first half of the psalm, both lamenting Israel’s temporary defeat at the hand of her enemies (cf. vss. 9 & 10 with vss. 1-3) and beseeching God to help his covenant people. With God’s enablement, Israel is assured of victory over her enemies (cf. vss. 11 & 12 with vss. 4 & 5).
I. God speaks, declaring his sovereignty. (6-8)
II. God’s servant speaks, lamenting Israel’s weakness and seeking God’s help. (9-12)
Only by trusting in God who rules over the nations of the earth will we triumph over our foes.
The right questions, asked at the right moment, can bring great insight and understanding even when the answers are not directly given. Such are the four questions David asks (vss. 9 & 10) immediately following several powerful declarations regarding God’s sovereignty (vss. 6-8). The first two questions, related to Israel’s neighbor, Edom, essentially convey the same message. The Edomites, descendants of Jacob’s twin brother Esau, occupied a small area south of the Dead Sea. Their capital, today called Petra, has become a famous archaeological site located in the modern nation of Jordan and visited by many who travel to the Holy Land. Because of its geographical setting, it had a reputation in the ancient world of being almost impossible to attack. By asking the two questions regarding Edom (vs. 9), David is essentially saying, “Even if I were to take refuge in the most defensible place on earth, it would be of little help without God’s protection.”
With this in mind, David asks his next two questions (vs. 10), which lead to the declarations that follow (vss. 11 & 12). David is clearly looking to God for help and is rejoicing in the anticipated victory that Yahweh will surely provide for Israel. As with Paul’s affirmation in Romans 8, David is declaring, “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31)? The answer to that question remains the same for us today as it was for David so many years ago: “Absolutely no one can stand against us if God is fighting on our side.”