Vs. 1-5 praise God for all He has done;
Vs. 6-8 make God’s assignment for His conquering tribes;
Vs. 9-12 show the need for God to finish the work.
The history behind this Psalm seems to be in 1 Chronicles 18:1-13. David has enjoyed military successes, but knows to attribute these to God (1 Chronicles 18:6, 13). David dedicated the spoils of war to the LORD (1 Chronicles 18:6-11), much of which was later used by Solomon in building the temple of the LORD.
Verses 1-5: No doubt David felt the discipline God had given him by not letting David build the temple to God in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 17). In verse 1, along with loss of lives in battle, David thought God “cast us off,” “broken us down,” “been displeased,” but would still “restore us again.” God is willing to forgive those who are humbled. God’s power had shaken up “the earth” and needed to be repaired (verse 2); disciplined His people with “hard things,” and “confusion” (verse 3); given a “banner” (sign) to rally them together (verse 4). To be saved “with Your right hand” figuratively suggests that God still helps them with a strong arm (verse 5).
Verses 6-8: It says in verse 6: “God has spoken in His holiness.” God’s dispensation of the tribes of Israelites is the final Word on the subject. “His holiness” always refers to God, and not a man (Pope, etc.). Jesus Christ gave Himself that sinners who obey the Gospel “might partake of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). Unless that would make each Christian a “Pope,” then what each Christian may “partake” of is not limited to one individual! It is a profanity for any religion to bestow upon any human the title of “His holiness,” for it is not reserved for one, but to all Christians it is said: “as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). In verse 7, God claims Gilead and Manasseh, both across the Jordan River from the Promised “mainland.” The tribe of Ephraim would lead; Judah would rule; verse 8, God even claimed their enemies: Moab would be a common “washpot;” Edom would be completely crushed; Philistia would shout triumphantly when taken and included.
Verses 9-12: If God made the assignments in verses 6-8, then in verse 9, God asks for a leader to step forward and do this. David’s reply in verse 10 is that it was God who gave them victory, and should again. The principle statement in verses 11-12 appears to be “For the help of man is useless.” That acknowledgment sometimes is difficult, if not, impossible, to hear. Jesus heard the Canaanitish woman beg mercy for her “severely demon-possessed daughter” because she “came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’” (Matthew 15:21-28). “Her daughter was healed from that very hour” just as David’s help from God had come to him. David will emphasize his conclusion with, “My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” If God created “heaven and earth” (and all the scientific evidence demands that He did!), then only He has the power to interact and override what happens on that earth. God sees, hears, and influences the affairs on earth, continually, for “He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17).
All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.