Psalm 60: Hope in the Lord
He Will Tread Down Our Foes
To the choirmaster: according to Shushan Eduth. A Miktam of David; for instruction; when he strove with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and when Joab on his return struck down twelve thousand of Edom in the Valley of Salt.
(1)O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses; you have been angry; oh, restore us.
(2)You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open; repair its breaches, for it totters.
(3)You have made your people see hard things; you have given us wine to drink that made us stagger.
(4)You have set up a banner for those who fear you, that they may flee to it from the bow.
(5)That your beloved ones may be delivered, give salvation by your right hand and answer us!
(6)God has spoken in his holiness: “With exultation I will divide up Shechem and portion out the Vale of Succoth.
(7)Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet; Judah is my scepter.
(8)Moab is my washbasin; upon Edom I cast my shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
(9)Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?
(10)Have you not rejected us, O God? You do not go forth, O God, with our armies.
(11)Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!
(12)With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.
What a long and interesting heading!
A song for the choirmaster to be used for worship in the temple. A miktam or michtam of David: one of David’s golden psalms; his most treasured songs. The miktam is a song of instruction; something to be remembered and kept in the heart of the people. Set to a tune: Shushan Eduth or “Lily of the Testimony” or “The Lily of the Covenant.”
The historical time frame is interesting. The battles referred to in this heading place the time line early in David’s reign. He was king, but young and still going into battle himself. In his early reign as king, David had to deal with surrounding peoples who wanted to hurt the Israelites. Things eventually became peaceful for him later in life. But early on, there was lots of fighting, lots of bloodshed, lots of unrest around Jerusalem.
2 Samuel 8 records many successes in battle and includes a section on David’s trusted officials. 2 Samuel 10 records David’s success over Ammon and Syria. 1 Chronicles 18 gives more details about some of these victories, his officials, and specifically mentions the “Valley of Salt.”
However, none of these chapters mention a defeat like that which Psalm 60 laments. This shouldn’t be a surprise, defeats are not written and sung about usually. But with all the fighting and all the unrest, there were for sure moments of failure, lose, and fear. For sure, there were times when David doubted that he was doing the right thing and was in fear for the lives of his men and himself, in fear of going against the will of God.
This Psalm is just that; a set back, a plead for help, a fear of being abandoned.
You have rejected us, O God, and broken our defenses. You have been angry with us; now restore us to your favor. You have shaken our land and split it open. Seal the cracks, for the land trembles. You have been very hard on us, making us drink wine that sent us reeling. But you have raised a banner for those who fear you– a rallying point in the face of attack.
Psalm 60:1-4 NLT
Don’t you love that God would include this in His Word? Life isn’t all success and victory.
David had suffered a defeat, but to him a defeat meant that God was displeased. This is how confident David was in his relationship with God: God would not allow him to be defeated.
“Israel’s defeat was hard to understand, and there were many other aspects of their situation that caused David confusion. Still, there was a kind of comfort in understanding that God was the author of it all, because what God does in judgment or discipline, He can restore in love and mercy.”
–Pastor David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com
The Israelites were broken and confused. David was shaken and afraid. But he goes back to God knowing and believing in, and resting in, God’s ultimate faithfulness. The banner is still raised. The people still trusted in God. They would still stand upon the faithfulness of God’s promises.
Selah…Interlude. Stop, pause, think about this.
Do you still raise your banner for God even in the dark times? When the world weighs you down, when suffering makes it hard to stand, do you still hold your hands up to your Father in heaven?
“…unfurl our banners in the breeze with confident joy. Dark signs of present or coming ill must not dishearten us; if the Lord had meant to destroy us he would not have given us the gospel; the very fact that he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ involves the certainty of victory.”
–Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
Now rescue your beloved people. Answer and save us by your power. God has promised this by his holiness: “I will divide up Shechem with joy. I will measure out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is mine, and Manasseh, too. Ephraim, my helmet, will produce my warriors, and Judah, my scepter, will produce my kings. But Moab, my washbasin, will become my servant, and I will wipe my feet on Edom and shout in triumph over Philistia.”
Psalm 60:5-8 NLT
No matter how bad things are the answer is to give it all over to God in prayer, and then to remember God’s faithfulness. God has been faithful. He has answered prayers. If He has, then why do we worry and wonder if He will again?
Shechem, the Valley of Succoth, Gilead, Manasseh, Ephraim, Judah…the land of Israel holds a special place in God’s heart. We know this. David knew this. David knew that God had given the land to the Israelites because His Word says so, and because David knew God personally.
The nations of Moab, Edom, and Philistia were the constant threat during this time. David’s words call upon God to do what He said He would do and subjugate these nations under Israel.
I love what the 20th century commentator James Burton Coffman said about this,
“One of the great lessons of this psalm is the fact of recalling and repeating the sacred promises of God is a legitimate and effective device in prayer.”
David does this a lot, and it’s a good example for you and for me. When we don’t know what to pray or our thoughts are all jumbled up or we are lost and afraid, repeat God’s Words and promises in prayer. This is why knowing and memorizing scripture is so important.
Who will bring me into the fortified city? Who will bring me victory over Edom? Have you rejected us, O God? Will you no longer march with our armies? Oh, please help us against our enemies, for all human help is useless. With God’s help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes.
Psalm 60:9-12 NLT
The “fortified city” was the great pride of the ancient Edomites. The rock fortress of Petra. The city itself was built into the rock of a hillside and controlled trade between northern Africa and Mesopotamia.
A little movie trivia: Indiana Jones goes looking for the holy grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and finds it in Petra, the ancient city of Edom. That is not Biblical, of course, just another Hollywood story.
David had defeated the Edomites in the Valley of Salt, but he could not conquer the fortified rock city of Petra. Joab and his brother Abishai led David’s army and killed 12,000 soldiers of Edom trying to get into this city.
“Human help is useless…”
No strength of arms, not the strongest fighting men, nor battle of wills could bring peace to the land. Only through God’s help will an end to the fighting be possible.
David knew, through his personal relationship with God, that He did not desire for Israel to just talk about the problems between nations. God had called David to subdue the nations around Israel.
The end of this Psalm is a prophecy: “God will do mighty things. He will trample down our enemies.”
That is great faith. Are you fighting a battle and it feels like you are being swept away? Are you fighting to enter your own rock fortress of Petra? Do you feel the enemy is winning and holding you down? Do you feel called by God, but due to oppression, you cannot stand?
Take heart. Sing the promises of God. Prophecy of your deliverance.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Philippians 1:6 NLT
“Hope in God is the best principle of true courage.”
–Matthew Henry, English minister, 1662-1714
Father in heaven, you are good and faithful and true. We love you and worship you and believe you. Every word in your Bible is true and from your very mouth. We thank you for that promise and that truth. We hope in you as we wait for you. Heal us. Save us. Fight for us. In your will and your timing.