We Will Conquer

Psalm 108

Immigration issues, Islamic advances, saber-rattling in North Korea, Cold War enemies heating up again, noisy and aggressive atheists, activist government agencies, list is overwhelmingly long and threatening. How do you respond, what do you think when you hear latest news item, are reminded of what is happening in one or more of these areas? Figure it’s far enough away culturally or geographically that isn’t an immediate personal problem? It really isn’t that simple, here’s why.

What you hear and opinions you form about things that happen far away influence how you think about and relate to those close to home. Events in the Ukraine and Siberia have impact on relations with one of other Baptist churches in town, people associated with it. News about barbaric behavior of Muslims in Iraq and Syria color your first impression of cashier with head-covering at Walmart. Reports about illegal immigrants along Mexican border factor into response to governor’s plans, prayer request about immigrants in Portland school system. Et cetera….

In many cases, is strong incentive to view people who fit one or more categories as enemies. When you think of someone as belonging to enemy group, next thing is to treat them like one. National security is important – is why God established civil government. Personal safety is important – is another reason why civil government. But, on personal level, is absolutely essential we have right enemy in our sights. Must recognize real enemy is the one we can’t see: Eph. 6:12

…our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

Our psalm is a composite: the first 5 verses from Psa. 57, the balance from Psa. 60. Spurgeon says:

“…we hold for ourselves that the words would not have been repeated if there had not been an object for so doing, and that this object could not have been answered if every hearer of it had said, “Ah, we had that before, and therefore we need not meditate upon it again” The Holy Spirit is not so short of expressions that he needs to repeat himself, and the repetition cannot be meant merely to fill the book: there must be some intention in the arrangement of two former divine utterances in a new connection.”

Another commentator says:

The first part deals with the realization of God’s protection and the second with the certainty of God’s victory. The value of this psalm must be found in the combination of those two truths. Both parts were [originally] written on the occasion of an enemy attack. Saul wanted to kill the one man, David, and the Edomites wanted to annihilate Israel as a nation. The combination presents the enemy on a personal and on a national level. It also highlights God’s protection against the enemy on both levels. David, probably, wanted to make clear that, in both cases, he was facing the same enemy. The evil power of darkness that prompted Saul to murder David is the same that inspired the nation of Edom. In both cases, God’s protection was sufficient. There exists a supernatural protection against a supernatural enemy. Schultz

Lord Jesus himself said: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Apostle Paul built on that: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Rom. 8:37) Also important to remember: the nation that is ultimately in view is not simply earthly political unit; is the kingdom of God, the church of the living God, that the Lord of the church promised to build.

If we are to participate in ultimate victory, do our part to bring it about, what are steps to victory: praise God (1-5), pray for his help (6-12), resolve to do his bidding (13).

A. praise v.1-5

right out of the gate: “I am determined, O God! I will sing and praise you with my whole heart.” NET

achieving victory requires focus on the goal, determination to achieve the goal, singleminded purpose

now don’t get cocky, is only by God’s gracious work in us that we can have a steadfast heart; is only by God’s grace that we have desire and commitment to sing and give praise…to God

not a part-time occupation: “I will awaken the dawn” – who is up first?? you or the sun? the one committed to victory gets up before dawn, labors diligently during all working/waking hours

v.3 not a quiet faith

“everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.” (1 John 5:4-5)

#1 occupation: give glory to God with all we have in every situation where God gives opportunity – praise with my whole heart, among the peoples, among the nations

two things about that: loving God means giving glory to God; loving neighbor means bringing God to them, them to God

Martin Luther summarized the nature of Christian life, what it is like to be born again, very well in one of his lectures in 1535. He reported that his teacher, John von Staupitz, said to him: “‘It pleases me very much that this doctrine of ours gives glory and everything else solely to God and nothing at all to men; for it is as clear as day that it is impossible to ascribe too much glory, goodness, etc., to God.’ … And it is true that the doctrine of the gospel takes away all glory, wisdom, righteousness, etc., from men and gives it solely to the Creator, who makes all things out of nothing. Furthermore, it is far safer to ascribe too much to God than to man.”

easy to praise God among the nations when nations come to our doorstep

most who come want at least some of what we have: language, prosperity, security/safety

let’s give them our greatest treasure – a knowledge of God – praise God before the peoples in such a way as to make them curious, draw them into conversation about the One who means most to us

letter to each of 7 churches ends: “he who overcomes…” followed by a promise from Lord of the church

overcoming is possible; the church overcoming her enemies not only possible, it’s a given when church is faithful to Christ – when the Head overcomes, the Body overcomes along with Him; so does individual, when intimately connected with Body to Head

B. prayer v.6-12

prayer for victory / deliverance not limited to individual, to the one praying – specific request is for God’s “beloved people” to be brought to victory (6)

two extremes on worldview landscape – the one represented by communism, other by democracy: in communism no place for the individual, only the collective; in democracy, no place for anything but the individual

church of Christ: one body made of many members; Jesus’ prayer: that they (plural) may be one (singular); both individual and community are present

here one individual, the voice of the psalm, prays for the “beloved”, the community and God’s deliverance for her

prayer expresses confident dependence – confidence in God and his deliverance, dependence on him as sole source of help

significant element in prayer here: praying God’s words back to him, reminding him of his promise (7-9)

is Ok to do that, God established rainbow as reminder of promise re: Flood; have further precedent in OT and NT saints praying this way

Lord, you promised this, you declared that, therefore…keep your word and move on our behalf, and perhaps on your own behalf

golden calf, God: “get out of the way so I can destroy them”; Moses: “how’s that gonna make you look to the Eqyptians”; for sake of God’s reputation he sometimes acts

God declared his sovereignty over both Israel and her neighbors/enemies – he decides outcome of whatever takes place in world in general, with respect to his people in particular

is that declaration / promise by God that gives confidence to the one praying; why pray if you don’t know that God is interested, powerful, etc.

victory in warfare depends on proper assessment of the enemy; underestimate his capabilities, almost certain disaster

specific request of v.12 applies to God’s people in all places and times: “Give us help against the enemy, for any help men might offer is futile.” NET

considering who real enemy is, actually has been since the Garden, man’s help is useless

important side note: since work of church is foremost spiritual in nature, man’s help and ideas cannot help; must rely on God’s help, God’s way or church will not move forward

remember where psalm started: praise God with my whole heart, among the peoples, among the nations – for this purpose…take territory away from Satan

we, in our own strength against Satan like sons of Sceva (Acts 19:13-16) “the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”

C. resolve v.13

not a “let go and let God” mindset that leads to victory; is a “hang on and follow God” attitude and resolve

as conquering King, God does not go out and tread down our foes simply because he can, or even for his own benefit; does that for our good, expecting that we will be following behind

we’ve read the last chapter, know how the battle turns out; psalmist is right, we will conquer – see Rev. 19:11ff

doesn’t mean we have to wait until “the end” to experience victory over enemies; happens every day of this life also

each time we resist temptation in Christ’s strength, he has tread down the enemy; same is true for brothers and sisters in the church…here, and around world, as we seek God’s help on their behalf

each time we show love of Christ to someone in need, Satan loses ground; not by our genius, but by God’s power

The King said all authority had been given to him. He had won the victory over sin and death. Therefore, go. How can we not move forward, especially knowing that “By God’s power we will conquer; he will trample down our enemies.” But…if we are to move forward and conquer, must follow example set here for us:

purpose to steadfastly praise God wholeheartedly in all circumstances and before all people

diligently exalt God and his glory at all times; remember, “it is far safer to ascribe too much to God than to man”

pray individually; pray corporately; whatever you do, pray; pray confidently, pray largely, reminding God of his large promises

act; if army is going to take territory from the enemy, it has to “move out”; depend on God, follow God, expect God to win the victory

“Whatever is possible, or whatever is impossible, Christians can do at God’s command, for God is with us.” CHS

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