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Psalms Of Victory

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In Psalm 44, a psalm attributed to the Sons of Korah, the psalmist praises God for his victorious intercession for His people (vv. 1-2). The result was not that the Israelites own strategy for victory enabled them to gain the promised land. It was the Lord that gave them the victory. Thus, the psalmist says:

It was not by their sword that they won the land.
nor did their arm bring them the victory;

it was your right hand, your arm
and the light of your face, for you loved them. 1

Accordingly, the psalmist can praise the Lord for more than Israel’s own success. Indeed, it was God’ s deliverance and enabling them to

push back our enemies;
through your name we trample our foes.

I do not trust, in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;

but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame. (vv. 10-12)

Surely it is not to man’s glory that they are given victory over their enemies, but for the praise of the Lord his God. So much is it the case that elsewhere David prays confidently to the Lord:

Give us aid against the enemy,
for the help of man is worthless.

With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies. (Ps. 108:12-13)

This was true for David and Joab as detailed in David’s psalm of thanks to God, the giver of victory over one’s enemies.

He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever. (Ps. 18:50; (cf. vv. 32-35; 46-49)

As Futato remarks,

Because the Lord has granted “great victories” and “unfailing love” to the king, the anointed one, to David and his descendants (18:50), the Lord is truly worthy of praise (18:3) and love (18:1).2

Details concerning Israel’s exodus are also found in other biblical psalms. Thus. in Psalm 45, a psalm honoring Israel’s king, the king is honored becausehe is considered “the most excellent of men” and because “God has blessed you forever” (v. 2). As well, the psalm encourages David to go forth victoriously:

Gird your sword upon your side, O mighty one;
Clothe yourself with splendor and majesty.

In your majesty ride forth victoriously
in behalf of truth, humility and righteousness;
let your right hand display awesome deeds.

As VanGemeren remarks, “The ‘splendor and majesty’ speak of his past victories and the confident expectation of additional victories every time he marches at the head of his troops.”3

Other psalms celebrate God for his giving victory to Israel king. For example, David writes:

O LORD, the king rejoices in your strength:
how great is his joy in the victories you give!

Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty. (Ps. 21:1,5)

Indeed, the king’s victories come through the LORD’s strength. So great are they that the king “rejoices” in the Lord’s attending victories.

In a later psalm, the psalmist sings praises to the Lord for God’s granting victories to kings and especially to David (Ps. 144:9-10). What was true for David is no less true for today’s believers! Ultimately it is simply the case that due to the Lord’s superintendence, the enemy needs no victory over the righteous. Thus, another psalmist could say:

They have greatly oppressed me from my youth –
let Israel say –

They have greatly oppressed me from my youth
but they have not gained the victory over me. (Ps. 129:1-2)

Such is also stated in Psalm 118:1,15-16:

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
His love endures forever. …

Shouts of joy and victory
resound in the tents of the righteous:

The LORD’S right hand has done mighty things!
The LORD’S right hand is lifted high;
the LORD’S right hand has done mighty things.

Here we encounter the familiar theme of the right hand.

The right hand is used particularly as a synecdoche to emphasize God’s person and action. God’s right hand is said to be “filled with righteousness” (Ps. 48:10) and effective might (Pss. 80:15-16; 89:13)4.

The above fact demonstrates that as believers we must rely on the Lord, his will and his strength. Yes, we should praise the Lord and rely on him. Thus, as we read in Psalm 20, another psalm attributed to David,

“We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God” (vs. 5).

All the above serve as a reminder of that great old hymn by Eugene M. Bartlett, Sr.:

I heard an old, old story how a Savior came from glory,
How he gave his life on Calvary to save a wretch like me;
I heard about his groaning, of his precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins and won the victory.5

1 All scriptural texts are taken from the NIV.

2 Mark D. Futato, “The Book of Psalms.” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort (Carol Stream, Il. 2009), 7:88. It should also be noted that Psalm !8: 7-15 draws upon Israel’s great victory over Egypt at the time of the exodus. See further, Richard D. Patterson, “Victory at Sea” Bib. Sac. 161 (2009) 42-54.

3 Willem, A. VanGemeren, “Psalms” in The Expositors Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 5:345.

4 For details see further “Right, Right Hand” in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, eds. Leland Ryken, James. C, Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III (Downers Grove, IL, InterVarsity Press, 1998), 727-28.

5 Eugene M. Bartlett, Sr., “Victory in Jesus”.

Related Topics: Devotionals

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