Tom Lowe




Title: Tell Me the Old, Old Story

A Song. A Psalm of David.


Theme: Israel’s Praise and Possession

  • KJV Bible is used throughout unless noted otherwise.
  • “Special Notes” and “Scriptures” are at the end of the psalm.





As you begin to study this psalm, you may say to yourself, “I’ve read all this before.” And so you have. The first five verses are found in the last half of Psalm 57, and the last eight verses could have been taken out of the last half of Psalm 60. This is a composite psalm. Psalms 57 and 60 have been commandeered, rearranged, and included in God’s Word as a new psalm with a few minor changes.


“Repetition” is a sound instructive principle still used today. It was used by Mark when he wrote his gospel―the entire book of Mark except for fifty-five verses is found in Matthew. Some of us can remember the old-fashioned way of teaching by rote{e]. It was dull but effective. The entire class would chant the multiplication tables, repeating them out loud in unison day after day: Two times nine is eighteen; three times nine is twenty-seven; four times nine is thirty-six.


That is the method the Holy Spirit uses here. He takes verses from two different psalms and arranges them in a different way, not because He has run out of ideas, but because he wants to bring particular truths before us in a fresh way for a second time.


It is generally thought that Psalm 108 was written after the Babylonian captivity by some unknown scribe acting under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He took portions from two of David’s earlier compositions and put them together as we have them here, as a new choir piece for the chief musician. The historical situation in David’s day and the situation at the time this psalm was written were quite different. Centuries had come and gone, the monarchy had been swept away, the greater part of the tribes had been scattered only to vanish among the nations of the earth. Only a tiny remnant remained to hold the land for the Messiah, and even that remnant was subject to the control of foreign powers. Yet the old words of David are picked up to express the joys, hopes, fears, and sorrows of a new age, a new generation, and a new time of need. David’s words were still up to date then, and they still are today.


The unknown author selected the triumphant parts of Psalms 56 and 60 to give us this new one, so essentially it is a victory psalm. There may be difficulties, disappointments, and duress, but with God we cannot fail to have victory.


The psalm revolves around four words: music, majesty, might, and mercy. It shows the end of God’s ways with man. That is perhaps one reason why the ends of the two earlier psalms are cut off from the trials and troubles with which they were originally associated and are put together in a new form. The end of God’s ways with men is always one of triumph for God and for those who put their trust in Him.                                                                                                                                                                    




Commentary: Psalm 108:1-13 (KJV)


1 My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.


My heart, O God, is steadfast;

 “Steadfast” means to be erect; to be firm, steady, constant, fixed. He did not waver in his purpose, or lean now to one side and then to the other; he was not “swayed” or “moved” by the events that had occurred or by the arguments given by the great scholars and orators of his day. He felt conscious of standing firm in the midst of all his troubles. He confided in God. He did not doubt His justice, His goodness, His mercy; and, even in His trials, he was ready to praise Him, and was “resolved” to praise Him. The word “steadfast” gives emphasis and intensity to the expression, and is designed to show in the strongest manner that his heart, his purpose, his confidence in God, did not waver in the slightest degree.


The psalmist, then, is trusting in the Lord, believing that he should be saved by Him out of his troubles; see Psalm 101:1. So, in a spiritual sense, a heart fixed and established, or that is firm and sure, is one that is assured of its salvation by Christ, rooted and grounded in the love of God, firmly built on the foundation, Christ, and has its affections set on him; and is unmoved, from the hope of the Gospel, and its doctrines, by whatever it meets with in the world. It may be rendered, "my heart is prepared", or "ready"; that is, according to some, to receive good or evil, prosperity or adversity, at the hand of God.


I will sing and make music with all my soul.

I will “sing” and give praise (“make music”) ―my heart shall confide in thee; my lips shall utter the language of praise. In all his troubles God was his refuge; in everything, he found occasions for praise. So it should be the fixed and settled purpose of our hearts that we will at all times confide in God, and that in every situation in life we will render Him praise.


A redeemed people ought to be a rejoicing people. As long as we are looking at our own hearts, our fears and frustrations, our foolishness and failings, we will not be able to sing or rejoice. As long as we are looking at our circumstances, we tend to be gloomy instead of glad. Let us get our eyes firmly fixed on the Lord, and then we will be able to sing. That is the inspiration of praise―a sense of the greatness, glory, and grace of our Lord.



2 Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.


“Awake, harp and lyre!”

If we had been living in those days we would have played the harp rather than the piano, and we would have plucked a psaltery instead of a guitar. If we were going to translate culturally from those ancient times to the times in which we live, we would say, “Awake, piano and organ!” Pull out all those stops. Pound on those pedals. Make those fingers fly.”


The psalmist uses “harp and lyre{b]” as persons―as if they were animate, sensible, and living―to represent his soul, since it is the most honorable, glorious, and excellent part of man; possessed glorious powers and faculties; had the image of God stamped upon it, which made man the glory of God (1 Corinthians 11:7); and has the image of Christ on it in regenerated persons; and is that with which God and Christ are glorified; and is, upon all accounts, of great worth and value, even of more worth than the whole world. Sometimes, in the saints, the soul appears as if it were asleep, and needs awaking; not in a literal sense; for it is incapable of natural sleep, but in a figurative and spiritual sense, like when grace is dormant, and when the soul is slothful in its duty, unconcerned about divine things, and lukewarm and indifferent to them; which is brought about by corruption and worldly cares. At other times the soul becomes dull, and heavy, and inactive. This results from the pressures caused by sorrows and troubles; which seems to have been the situation of our psalmist. He had been in great distress, his soul was bowed down (Psalm 57:6); he had hung-up his harp, and could not sing one of the Lord's songs in the place and circumstances he was in. But now he calls upon his soul, and arouses all the powers and faculties of it, and stirs up himself to perform the work of praise.


I will awaken the dawn.

[“Awake early” is a better translation.] This psalmist’s soul was so filled with song that he wanted to get up, wake the dawn, and wake everyone else too. Verses 1 and 2 sounds very much like Psalm 57:8: “Awake, my glory! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.” That is, I will awake early in the morning to praise God; I will arouse myself from slumber to do it; I will devote the first moments―the early morning―to His worship. These words do not imply that this was an evening psalm, and that he would awake tomorrow―the next day―to praise God; but they refer to what he intended should be his general habit―that he would devote the early morning (arousing himself for that purpose) to the praise of God. No time in the day is more appropriate for worship than the early morning; no object is more worthy to rouse us from our slumbers than a desire to praise God; in no way can the day be more appropriately begun than by prayer and praise; and nothing will do more to keep up the flame of piety―the life of religion in the soul―than the habit of devoting the early morning to the worship of God; to prayer; to meditation; to praise.



3 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.


I will praise you, Lord, among the nations{3];

This is a prophecy either relating to the Gospel times, Christ being considered as the Speaker: or a prediction that these Divine compositions should be sung, both in synagogues and in Christian churches, in all the nations of the earth. And it is so: wherever the name of Christ is known, this psalm is also known.


The Apostle Paul seems to have this passage in mind when he wrote Romans 15:9{4]; which he mentions as a proof of the Gentiles glorifying God for His mercy in sending the Gospel among them, and calling them by His grace; by which they appeared to be his chosen and redeemed ones; and in forming them into Gospel churches, where His praise was sung. The idea here is that he would make a public acknowledgment of those blessings which he had received; or that he would cause the remembrance of them to be celebrated among the nations. This presumes that something will be done among the Gentiles, which should give rise to praise; and here the psalmist represents the Messiah, whose ministers and members praise God for his wonderful acts of mercy to the Gentile world.


I will sing of you among the peoples [the Israelites].

He prophesizes of the calling of the Gentiles: for unless they were called, they could not hear about the goodness of God. The deliverance he hoped for would be so great that it would make it proper that he should celebrate by praising God in the most public manner; that he should make His goodness known as far as possible among the nations.


Psalm 108:3 may have been taken from Psalm 18:49: “Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O LORD, And I will sing praises to Your name.” The Psalmist wanted to give the whole world a song. That is what is so great about a happy believer. He or she infuses a spirit of praise and worship into other people. The praising person is the prevailing person. Such individuals are uncontainable; there is something wonderfully attractive about them and their faith.



In verses 4-6, the psalmist’s thoughts turn instinctively to the wonderful God upon whom his heart is fixed and on who has filled his heart with song.


He is thrilled by the fact that our God is:

  • Majestic in His Rule (108:4)
  • Majestic in His Glory (108:5)
  • Majestic in His Grace (108:6)



4 For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.


For great is your love (mercy, lovingkindness, or grace), higher than the heavens;


Love and faithfulness are the cornerstones of God’s rule over the heaven and the earth. Not just love. Not just faithfulness. If God’s government were marked by love (mercy), but not by faithfulness (truth), it would be wishy-washy and commonplace. If it were marked by faithfulness (truth), but not by love (mercy), it would be insensitive. So, thank God! “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” In Him, both are perfectly blended together. He knows the worst about us and loves us anyway.


The psalmist catches a glimpse of the vastness of God’s government. It reaches beyond the heavens, beyond the clouds (skies). He sees the stars marching through space, in obedience to the laws of God. He sees a God who is able to take countless stars and their satellites, toss them into vast orbits, and keep them whirling and plunging at inconceivable velocities throughout space, with such mathematical precision that we can tell the time of an eclipse or the visit of a comet years in advance. Not a speck of dust moves throughout the reach of space but that He knows precisely where it is, why it is there, and what its history has been since the dawn of time. Such a God can be trusted with our lives.


This phrase, “For great is your love (mercy), higher than the heavens,” denotes the greatness and largeness of His love for us; as it exists in the heart of God. He has plenty [an exceedingly large amount] of love stored up for those who love Him; which is how it is expressed in the covenant of grace. His love for us is seen in the persons He chose to receive eternal life; in the mission He gave to Christ―to enter into this world and die for them; in the regeneration of them, the pardon of their sins, and eternal life: and this love (mercy) is not only extended to persons in all parts of the earth, but is as high as the heaven above it (Psalm 103:11); not only does God's mercy reach above the heavens, but it comes down from above the heavens to us, the lowest of all.


Your faithfulness (truth) reaches to the skies (clouds).

By this is meant either “the faithfulness of God in performing his purposes and his promises; or the Gospel, and its doctrines, which contain the deep things of God; unless he means “Christ” himself, who is the truth which sprung out of the earth (Psalm 85:11); is now ascended unto heaven, and is higher than the heavens; and whose exaltation and glory may be the thrust of Psalm 57:11.


The psalmist was not only in a happy state of mind when he wrote this Psalm, but in what is called “a state of triumph.” His confidence in God was boundless; though encompassed by the most ferocious enemies, and having all things against him except God and his innocence. He will seldom be found in a more blessed state than he describes here. Similar faith in God will bring the same blessings to every true Christian in similar circumstances.



5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.


Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;

In ancient Rome when a gladiator in the arena vanquished a foe, he looked up at the tiered seats of spectators for a verdict. Should the man be killed or spared? More often than not, the answer was given in an expressive and insistent downward turning of the thumb. “Down with him!” they shouted.


That is what men did when God in Christ veiled His glory and stepped out of eternity into time, wrapped in the flesh of a human being. He went from place to place doing good, placing His hands on the heads of children, touching a loathsome leper, flooding blind eyes with light. But in the end, men turned their thumbs down. “Away with this fellow from the earth!” they cried. “Down with Him!”


But men did not have the last word. God said, “Up with Him.” “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.” That is what God has done with His glory and what he intends to do with it. Moreover, He wants to exalt His glory here and now in our hearts and circumstances. Then He wants to make His glory ring out eternally in our lives on high.


“Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens,” as Christ is now, for He is seated at the Father's right hand; He is God over all, blessed for ever.


let your glory be over all the earth.

“Let thy glory be above all the earth”; just as it is above all the men on earth and angels in heaven. This is repeated from Psalm 57:5; and shows the intensity of his desire for these things, and how much his heart was set upon them. God’s glory was the psalmist’s greatest concern.


Life sometimes seems similar to a jungle, with wild beasts threatening to devour us and hostile hunters trying to trap us. Nevertheless, the godly can count on supernatural assistance and can rejoice in ultimate salvation. In the meantime, we should live for the glory of God.



6 That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me.


That thy beloved may be delivered:

Who is it that the psalmist calls “beloved?” Why, us, of course. Since God is God, no power in heaven, earth, or hell can prevent Him from delivering His “loved ones” from whatever troubles him or her―in His own perfect time and way. He is majestic in His grace.


The word rendered “beloved,” and the verb rendered “may be delivered,” are both in the plural number, showing that it is not an individual that is referred to, but that the people of God are intended. This is taken without any alteration from Psalm 60:5. In that psalm the prayer for deliverance is grounded on the afflictions of the people, and the fact that God had given them “a banner that it might be displayed because of the truth,”―or, in the cause of truth. In the psalm before us, while the prayer for deliverance is the same, the reason for that prayer is different. It is that God is exalted; that his mercy is above the heavens; that his glory is above all the earth, and that he is thus exalted that he may insert and save his people.


The meaning of David's name is “beloved.” He and his people are beloved of God, and it is God's glory to save His beloved ones.


save with thy right hand, and answer me.

He will save with His “right hand,” the hand of power. The Hebrew here is the same as in Psalm 60:5, where it is rendered “and hear me.”


The Hebrew text―”and answer me”―in Psalms 60:5 reads “us.” It is Israel that speaks. He will save with His “right hand,” the hand of power.



7 God has spoken from his sanctuary: “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth (Succoth).

8 Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet,


God says, “I will.” He says, “These are My plans.” No power exists that can prevent God from accomplishing His plans or rob God of His people. Then God says, “Mine. Mine. He says, “These are My people and I have an exclusive right to them.” No power can say, “No, they are not!”


Let us get these basic facts fixed in our minds. Nothing can hinder God from doing what He intends with His plans, His people, and His prerogatives{a]. Consider this statement, I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth (Succoth).” Both these places figure in the life of Jacob. It was at Succoth that Jacob built shelters for his cattle and a house for himself. This had come after years of bickering with his Uncle Laban. Jacob craved only peace and quiet. So he decided to settle down, give up his pilgrim character, and stop being forever on the march. That was a mistake, since Jacob was settling down out of the will of God. True, God wanted him to settle down―but at Bethel, not at Sukkoth (Succoth). Succoth, therefore, represents those times and places in life that tempt us to settle for something less than God’s best.


But notice this. God says, “I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth.” In other words, God says, “These are My plans―I will give you in My own good, acceptable, and perfect will just what you want. I will give you the peace and quiet you sought at Succoth without the trouble you found at Shechem.” Those are God’s plans. Let us take on the good in them, only let us make sure we do it at His time and in His way.



Joshua 13:8-11; 2 Samuel 2:8; 5:5


Deuteronomy 33:17; 1 Samuel 28:4


Genesis 49:10



9 Moab is my washbasin, on Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph.”


Moab is my washbasin,

“Moab is my washbasin” is the prediction that the Moabites shall be reduced to the lowest forms of slavery.


A washbasin is a pot in which to wash my feet, a vessel of dishonor, which I will break in pieces (Psalms 2:9), at my pleasure; and those Moabites I set aside I will keep alive. They shall be my slaves and underlings, and will be glad to do anything I say. This may have been taken from Psalm 60:8.


on Edom I toss my sandal;

I will make a complete conquest of Idumea, and subject the Edomites to the lowest offices, as well as the Moabites; that is to say, I will walk through their country as a conqueror; or, I will tread them under my feet; or, I will throw my shoe at the heads of them, and make them pick it up; or, I will make no more of subduing them, than of casting my shoe over them. 


There they are: three ancient enemies of Israel. Moab was an accursed race, descended from the oldest son of Lot, conceived in a night of drunkenness and incest, the fruit of the flesh, always seeking ways to hinder and harm the child of God. Edom was the unblessed and powerful foe of Israel, conspicuous because it produced at least a Herod to try to murder the infant Christ. Philistia is described in the  Hebrew bible as being in a constant struggle with the neighboring Israelites.


Israel had three powerful enemies, and so do we. Israel had the Philistine along with Moab, and Edom. We also have foes; we have the world, the flesh, and the devil. Just as Israel’s foes were beaten foes, so are ours. What is it that opposes us right now in our heart, homes, and hopes? Is it the world? The flesh? Satan? Remember, our foes are beaten foes.                                                 


over Philistia I shout in triumph.

Here the psalmist confidently predicts that he will shout as a victor over Philistia. John Hyrcanus subdued the Idumeans, and caused them to receive circumcision, and profess the Jewish religion. The words here seem to predict their entire subjugation.



10 Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?

11 Is it not you, God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies?


Who will bring me to the fortified city?

Here the psalmist is contemplating an impossible task. “The fortified city” was Edom, with its impregnable rocky fortress of Petra. Petra was protected by an almost impassable approach down a precipitous, narrow gorge. It was hewn out of the overhanging sandstone crags of the mountainside. It seemed impossible to subdue that city. The strength of the Edomite city was too great.


But this impossible task is balanced by an important truth― “Who will bring me to the fortified city? . . . Is it not you, God?” God is still our beloved friend. He is still Elohim, the God of creation. A God who can fling stars into space is certainly able to take a “fortified city” no matter who holds it. 


Look at the facts.

  • God’s plans cannot be defeated; God’s people cannot be disconnected from each other and from Him; God’s prerogatives cannot be denied.
  • The possession of the metropolis [the fortified city] is a sure proof of the conquest of the country.
  • The fortified city built on the rock, even man’s hardened heart, stronger and stonier than the tomb, He has conquered and overcome; and in Him and His might are His people to carry on His warfare, casting down all the strongholds of human pride and stubbornness and unrepentance.
  • The psalmist wrote Psalm 108, either because, though their enemies were defeated and subdued, yet there was some fortified city or cities which were not yet taken; or to thankfully commemorate God’s goodness in answering his former requests, as if he had said, I remember this day, to thy glory and my own comfort, my former perils and dangers, which made me cry out, “Who will lead me to Edom?”
  • There is another application of these words which should not be overlooked.—According to Jewish tradition, Edom typifies Rome. The Romans forced the miserable Jews to pay taxes, and Domitian banished them from Rome, to live in woods, where their furniture was only a basket and some hay, and their wives were forced to beg. Rome means “strength,” and as the “great city which reigned over the kings of the earth,” it is regarded by many as having been the most formidable antagonist of God’s Word and God’s people. Even today, the city of Romanism is the chief opponent of the Gospel on the Continent of Europe.



12 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless.

13 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.


Give us aid against the enemy,

Notice how the psalmist closes the psalm; he rests in the quenchless mercy of God who takes care of us in spite of our failures and faults. We get the impression from this psalm that we can bring our troubles to God, because they will fit well with the thought that went into it. Seeking Help in times of trouble is a very common experience. “Trouble” takes many forms:

  1. Bodily trouble; sickness, injury, disease
  2. Family trouble; divorce, disrespectful children
  3. Church trouble; gossip, jealousy
  4. Heath trouble; heart, mental illness, cancer




for human help is worthless.

Have we come to that point in life yet? Have we come up against something we cannot handle, and nobody else can handle either? Jacob’s predicament at Succoth and Shechem was like that. He was in trouble way over his head. Friends can sympathize and pray, they can lend support and understanding, they can offer counsel and love, but, when all is said and done, the problem remains.


God has said, “For vain is the help of man.” Good men may give us wise counsel, and they may sympathize sincerely and tenderly, and they may pray for us, and therefore become instrumental in us receiving that which is good for our souls; but they can neither sustain us in trouble, nor sanctify our sorrows, nor deliver us from our afflictions; consider the following four things:

  1. They cannot control our circumstances. But God can; He alone can improve the conditions of men―raise them up or cast them down―enrich or impoverish―send prosperity or adversity―joy or grief.
  2. They cannot drive back our enemies; neither those in the world, or our spiritual ones; but God can; He can enable us to effectively resist both, and to triumph over them.
  3. They cannot turn our afflictions into a blessing. But God can; He is able “out of the eater to bring forth meat, and out of the strong to bring forth sweetness.”
  4. They cannot deliver us from our troubles. Look at Abraham on the mount with Isaac! Jacob meeting Esau! Daniel in a den of lions! Hebrews in the fiery furnace! Peter in prison! Paul in the stocks! In all these cases, the skill and power of man would have been useless; but God did deliver each and all of them; and He will deliver those who put their trust in Him. Human help is of no avail.


When we take ourselves to God in prayer, we have a very certain resource. The resource itself is God. He knows all our troubles. He is always ready and willing to help and comfort His people. How do we obtain His help? By prayer, of course. It may be very short―a mere fragment. But it must be the prayer of one who is conscious of his need, has faith in Christ, and makes an honest plea.


With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

We. He. Both of us, working together. Not just me, not just He, but both of us. God is going to join you in a holy partnership and bring you through to complete victory. When the circumstances seem hopeless, it is time to rely on our wonder-working God.




Special Notes and Scripture

[a} prerogative―an exclusive right, privilege, etc., exercised by virtue of rank, office, or the like: the prerogatives of a senator.

[b} The harp and lyre are both twelve-string instruments.

[c} “Among the nations” denotes the Gentiles in general.

[d}and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, "THEREFORE I WILL GIVE PRAISE TO YOU AMONG THE GENTILES, AND I WILL SING TO YOUR NAME" (Romans 15:9). As the Jews were to glorify God for his truth, so the Gentiles were to glorify God for his mercy. 

[e} “Rote” is a memorizing process using routine or repetition, often without full 

attention or comprehension.

[f} crag―A steep rugged mass of rock projecting upward or outward.