The Word Made Fresh
(To the worship leader: to the tune of “Lily of the Covenant.” A song of David for teaching, written when he was struggling with Aram-Naharaim and Aram-Zobah, and when Joab killed twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt on his return.)
1O God, you have turned away from us and broken our defenses.
You have been angry with us, but now come to our aid!
2You have shaken the land and torn it open.
Repair its flaws, for it is tottering!
3You have made your people suffer
and fed us wine that made us stagger.
4But you have raised a flag for those who fear you
so that they can rally out of the range of the bows.
5Let your right hand give us the victory,
and rescue those whom you love.
6God has made this promise in the temple:
“I will rejoice and divide Shechem.
I will carve up the Valley of Succoth.
7For Gilead and Manasseh belong to me –
Ephraim is my helmet and Judah my scepter.
8Moab is my washbowl. I toss my shoes on Edom.
I have triumphed over Philistia.”
9But who will bring me to the walled fortress?
Who will lead me to Edom?
10Have you not rejected us, O God?
You do not go out with our armies.
11Give us help against our enemies,
for human helpers are worth nothing.
12With God we shall be victorious.
God will walk over our enemies.
Superscription: the 47th psalm ascribed to David, and the 6th “Miktam.” “Lily of the Covenant” is likely a reference to a tune or musical setting, and a beautiful title it is. The references to Aram-Naharaim and Aram-Zobah are obscure: neither is mentioned in any of the accounts of David’s reign, nor is there any mention of Joab having killed 12,000 Edomites. Joab was David’s general who led the troops into battle – and the statement does not mean he killed all those Edomites by himself! There are several earlier references, however, to thousands of Edomites being killed – by David (2 Samuel 8:13), by Amaziah (2 Kings 14:7 and 2 Chronicles 25:11), and by Abishai son of Zeruaiah (1 Chronicles 18:12).
1-3: The psalm begins with a description of a terrible defeat.
4-5: Outside the din of battle, though, the psalm helps us picture a rallying point, a banner around which to gather.
6-8: The psalmist declares that all the territory around Jerusalem is protected by God, from Shechem to Judah, from Moab to Edom.
9-12: The earlier defeat is taken as a sign of God’s rejection: yet confidence is expressed that God will ultimately grant the victory.
We look to God when the storms of life are raging. Sometimes God allows the storms to shape us and teach us. We want God to simply wave off every trial, but our trials can teach us in ways nothing else can. We must learn to embrace the promise that God is with us and this, too, shall pass, even when we are suffering.