Weds 1 March - Psalm 60
1 You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us;
you have been angry—now restore us!
2 You have shaken the land and torn it open;
mend its fractures, for it is quaking.
3 You have shown your people desperate times;
you have given us wine that makes us stagger.
4 But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner
to be unfurled against the bow.
5 Save us and help us with your right hand,
that those you love may be delivered.
6 God has spoken from his sanctuary:
“In triumph I will parcel out Shechem
and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth.
7 Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet,
Judah is my scepter.
8 Moab is my washbasin,
on Edom I toss my sandal;
over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
9 Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
10 Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us
and no longer go out with our armies?
11 Give us aid against the enemy,
for human help is worthless.
12 With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies.
- - -
Meditation on Psalm 60
The titles at the beginning of this psalm are among the longest in the whole book of psalms.
The title gives us some contextual information which takes us back in the Old Testament to some specific battles.
2 Samuel 8 gives us a summary of David’s victories and mentions some of the names in the heading of our psalm.
The end of that chapter in Samuel makes it clear that ‘the LORD gave David victory wherever he went.’
All this as background to the opening verses which seem to give us a different perspective. Notice one other phrase in the heading which is not found in any other psalm – ‘for teaching’.
However, we find it in Deuteronomy 31:19,21 where God tells Moses to ‘teach the Israelites this song as a witness for me against them.’
What do we learn from this psalm?
- BATTLE HARDENED BUT BROKEN Verses 1-3
The people of God may have won many victories over the years and God blessed them in that. These other nations may have attacked the Israelites but God is not pleased, although we don’t have a specific battle in mind.
They were defeated and separated from God. Can you think of anything worse than that God is angry with me as His child; with us as His people?
Notice the seven verbs the psalmist uses – the actions that God took against His people…
- You have rejected us
- You have burst upon us
- You have been angry with us
- You have shaken the land
- You have torn it open
- You have shown your people desperate times
- You have given us wine that makes us stagger
These are not imagined reactions – they are real and they hurt.
Whatever was the cause of God’s reaction we may never know but perhaps we have sometimes faced such reactions in our lives and we wonder where God is.
Perhaps the people of Ukraine are wondering the same thing. Perhaps the people of Russia are also wondering what is going on.
And in the midst of this devastation the psalmist cries out to God…
- restore us
- mend it
Spurgeon comments: ‘to be cast off by God is the worst calamity that can befall a man or a people.’
- BROKEN BUT LOVED Verses 4-5
Why didn’t Moses give up on the rebellious people of God?
Why didn’t David throw the towel in and say “enough is enough, I can’t take any more”?
Why don’t we give up and go somewhere else?
Here’s the clue – verse 5b: ‘those you love may be delivered’.
How many times, as we have walked through the psalms, have we come across the phrase ‘the unfailing love of the LORD’?
In the midst of the battlefield, God has raised His flag - His banner. Not just raised it but ‘unfurled it’.
Come back to Exodus 17:15 when God fought for His people and they defeated the Amalekites. Moses built an altar and called it ‘Jehovah Nissi – the LORD is my banner.’
And this was the basis of the psalmist’s prayer when he cries “Save us…help us…deliver us.”
We may be broken but know this – each one of us is loved by God – He is on our side.
- GOD SPEAKS Verses 6-8
Just meditate on these words or phrases as God speaks from His sanctuary…
- “In triumph I will…”
- “I toss my sandal…”
- “…I shout in triumph”
What does this teach us about God?
- God is Sovereign
- God is in control
- God will have the victory
As we look at the situation in Ukraine we cry out, ‘Sovereign God, have mercy…’
The places mentioned show that Israel belongs to God.
- Shechem and Sukkoth represent the territories west and east of the Jordan
- Gilead and Manasseh are also west and east of the Jordan
- Ephraim (to the north) … my helmet speaks of strength
- Judah (to the south) … my sceptre speaks of dominion and authority
References follow about Moab (descendants of Lot); Edom (descendants of Esau) and Philistia as servants of God, doing His bidding even though they were constantly at war with Israel.
- GOD CAN BE TRUSTED Verses 9-12
Here the psalmist gets personal as well as collective.
- ‘Who will bring me…?’
- ‘Who will lead me…?’
Even though it seems as if God has deserted His people, the psalmist hangs on in there – ‘is it not you, God…’
The psalmist knew his weaknesses – ‘human help is worthless’ but he knew where to find his strength – ‘with God we will… He will…’
A book that became a great help during dark times is Philip Yancey’s book, ‘Where is God when it hurts?’
Remember – ‘with God we will…’
- - -