1 O Lord God, my heart is steadfast, and with all my soul I’ll sing. 2 Harp and lyre I will awaken, and my song the dawn will bring.
3 LORD my God, among the nations, I will ever give you praise; In the midst of all the peoples I will sing of you always.
4 For your steadfast love is boundless, greater than the heavens high; And your faithfulness towards us reaches even to the sky.
5 Far above the highest heavens be exalted, O my God; And through all the earth around us let your glory spread abroad.
6 With your right hand save and help us; rescue all those whom you love. 7 God has spoken from his temple, from his holy place above:
“I will distribute in triumph every part of Shechem’s land, And the whole of Succoth valley I will measure with my hand.
8 “Mine is Gilead, mine Manasseh, Ephraim is my helmet true; Judah I will make my sceptre 9 and on Edom toss my shoe.
“Moab will become my servant, and upon Philistia’s shore I will shout aloud in triumph; I am Lord and conqueror.”
10 Who will bring me to the city that is strongly fortified, And to reach the land of Edom who will be my help and guide?
11 Have you not, O God, rejected, turned us over to our foe? When our armies go to battle, with them you no longer go.
12 Since all human help is worthless, 13 God will give us victory; He it is who will defend us and tread down our enemy.
The Editors of Sing Psalms suggest the tune Abbots Leigh to this which you can hear here.
Scholars tell us that Psalm 108 is an amalgam of verses from two earlier Psalms – Psalm 57 and Psalm 60. It is suggested that ‘the combination of earlier Psalms illustrates the vitality of older Scriptures as they were appropriated and applied to new situations in the experience of God’s people’ (Allen Psalms 101-150 pp.69-70). The Psalm is described as a community lament with the following structure: invocation and prayer of thanks for deliverance (1-4), petition to God (5-6), divine assurance of deliverance (7-9), prayer of inquiry to God (10-11), petition to God (12), expression of trust and praise to God (13). On their return from exile the Israelites realised that their restoration was entirely dependent on the covenantal love of God. It was a gift to them and, as a consequence the people gave thanks to God and tried to learn to rely on God rather than their human efforts.
I find it a comfort and reassurance that the ancient Hebrews looked back into their faith tradition and from it drew new expressions of faith and worship. It reminds me of the part of the Statement of the Nature, Faith and Order of the United Reformed Church where we affirm, ‘our right and readiness, if the need arises, to change the Basis of Union and to make new statements of faith in ever new obedience to the Living Christ.’ Any new statement, or hymn, or prayer needs to enable the worshipper to look backwards and forwards. Looking backwards to connect us with the story and experience of faith which is rooted in Scripture and has sustained the Church since its origins but also enable us to look forward to embrace the new challenges and opportunities of our world through the lens of faith, hope and love.
‘LORD my God, among the nations, I will ever give you praise; In the midst of all the peoples I will sing of you always. For your steadfast love is boundless, greater than the heavens high; and your faithfulness towards us reaches even to the sky.’
O God, thank you for the statements, stories and songs we have received from prior generations. Though them may we be connected with all your people who have gone before us. Thank you for the opportunity to create our own statements, stories and songs. Enable us to articulate faith in our day, sharing insights we have gleaned about you, so that all people will come to know your faithfulness and will sing your praise. Amen.
The Rev’d Lindsey Sanderson, Minister, East Kilbride and Hamilton Joint Pastorate.