Psalm 118:8 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man
Created by Jon Taylor - Saturday 04 Mar 2017
Jon Taylor
Psalm 119, the longest chapter in Scripture is a series of meditations upon the excellence of the word of God. Psalm 117, the shortest chapter exhorts all peoples to praise Him. Psalm 118:8 is exactly in the centre of the Bible and draws out attention in how we need to respond to God. As we consider His word and join with others by lifting our hearts to praise him, this central truth resonates through the core of our being imploring us to put this verse into practice for God’s pleasure and for our own good; and instructs us how we are to live out our existence in union with Him.
‘It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man’.
Continual trust in the Lord
How often we need to be reminded of this simple yet profound reality! Even someone who has known the Lord for many years can slip into a pattern of relying upon the knowledge they have acquired through study and the perceived competence they have gained through devotion and practice to accomplish ministerial tasks. The source of our confidence and dependency must not be derived from man; that is, from ourselves, or from those who are extremely well qualified or in esteemed positions or considered important according to the kingdom of this world, but only in the Lord.
In the Treasury of David, Spurgeon lists why it is better to trust in the Lord rather than in men in all respects. Spurgeon noted that it was wiser since God is infinitely more capable and that it was morally better since it is the duty of the creature to trust the Creator. It is safer since we can never entirely trust in mortal man and it is also better for ourselves since actively trusting in God rather than in man results in us sanctifying our souls.[i]
Not trusting in men or in princes
The following verse. Psalm 118:9 is deliberately and strikingly similar.
‘It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes’
Hebraic poetry often involves parallelism to convey the same meaning by stating the same truth in two different ways. In one sense that is a beautiful form of writing; but more importantly it helps to clarify the intended meaning. This also acts as a safeguard from those who may stretch the meaning out of context or impose their own understanding onto the text through eisegesis rather than exegesis.
It is probable that David wrote this Psalm. Certainly the Psalmist faced immense opposition from surrounding nations. David’s life was often in danger particularly at the hands of King Saul and he constantly enquired of the Lord and sought His guidance throughout the course of his life. David could have relied on his resourcefulness, skill with weapons, ability to deal with an unpredictable and irate Saul by playing his harp and employing his advanced diplomacy whilst thinking on his feet, yet the many Psalms that he wrote are a testimony to his regular reliance upon God. What a lesson and a godly example for us to emulate in our inescapable situations that we encounter and our dealings with others today!
Luther’s trust and our trust in the Lord
Spurgeon notes Psalm 118 was Luther’s favourite Psalm. In this milestone five hundredth anniversary year of the Reformation, it is encouraging and helpful for us to consider that in the current political turmoil, Luther faced much more intense and grave danger and uncertainty than most of us in the Western world will probably ever face; and to him this Psalm spoke volumes and will undoubtedly continue to do so throughout the ages.
‘This is my Psalm, my chosen Psalm. I love them all; I love all Holy Scripture, which is my consolation and my life. But this Psalm is nearest my heart, and I have a peculiar right to call it mine. It has saved me from many a pressing danger from which nor emperor, nor kings, nor sages, nor saints, could have saved me. It is my friend; dearer to me than all the honours and power of the earth…But it may be objected that this Psalm is common to all; and no one has right to claim it his own. Yes; but Christ is common to all, and yet Christ is mine. I am not jealous of my property; I would divide it with the whole world…And would to God that all men would claim the Psalm as especially theirs! It would be the most touching quarrel, the most agreeable to God-a quarrel of union and perfect charity.’[ii]
Jon Taylor

[i] Charles H Spurgeon The Treasury of David Volume 3 (Hendrickson; Peabody, 2011), p115
[ii] Ibid cited ‘from his Dedication of his Translation of Psalm CXVIII to the abbot Frederick of Nuremberg

Saturday 04 Mar 2017