The rather long superscription instructs the singing of this psalm to be to the tune of “Shushan Eduth” which is usually translated “the Lily of the Testimony,” which some suppose is the same song mentioned in the superscription of Psalms 45, 69, and 80. There is no record in Scripture of the battles referred to in the first part of this superscription, which is understandable if (as some suppose from the first few verses) that they were defeats for Israel. The victory in the last part that is ascribed to Joab (for he was David’s commander) in “the Valley of Salt” is accounted in 2 Samuel 8:13-14 and 1 Chronicles 18:12-13. In the former, David was given the victory and in the latter, Abishai – David was his king and Joab was his commander. So, although the superscriptions are not part of the inspired word, there is no inconsistency on that account. As for the difference in the number of Edomites struck down, we will of course refer to the inspired word for the correct final count.
In any case, the psalm appears to be referring to the defeats mentioned above. Verses 1-5 begin with the suggestion of God’s displeasure with them, as well as the confidence that He would come through for them in the end. What follows in verses 6-8 is a recital by specific name of various lands that God had promised His people by general reference to Canaan. Verses 9-12 look forward to the victory at Edom.
For us, verse 11 is the lesson (“Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!”). It has always been mankind’s folly to rely solely on his own capabilities. Whether he acknowledges it or not, eventually man is dependent on God.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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