Bible Commentaries
Psalms 60

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again.

See introduction to Psalms 44:1-26, the sister psalm. Three strophes, four verses in each.

Psalms 60:1-12.-The covenant peoples affliction; the full healing of the breach anticipated, already healed in part (Psalms 60:1-4); confidence, grounded on God's Word assuring Israel of possession of Canaan and triumph over the pagan (Psalms 60:5-8); conquest of Edom, against which he was marching, anticipated, through God's help (Psalms 60:9-12).

Title. - Upon Shushan-eduth - i:e., 'upon the lily of testimony.' The lily expresses loveliness (note on Psalms 45:1-17, title). God's promise of Canaan to Israel (Psalms 60:6), is the lovely testimony of which assurance was already given in a partial deliverance (Psalms 60:4-5).

Michtan - `secret,' (cf. note on title, Psalms 16:1-11.)

To teach. It is a national psalm to be taught to the people (Deuteronomy 31:19). Psalms 44:1-26 was sung by the sons of Korah To teach. It is a national psalm to be taught to the people (Deuteronomy 31:19). Psalms 44:1-26 was sung by the sons of Korah in the midst of Edom's invasion of Israel during David's absence at the Euphrates. Our psalm was composed by David subsequently, when victory had been gained in part.

When he strove with Aram-naharaim - `when he had beaten down Aram (Syria) of the two floods' (Hengstenberg). So the Hebrew, Jeremiah 4:7. Compare the history, 2 Samuel 8:1-18; 2 Samuel 10:1-19; 1 Chronicles 18:1-17.

And with Aram-zobah - the Syrians of Zobah, the region between the Orontes and the Euphrates (2 Samuel 10:6; 2 Samuel 10:8) under King Hadadezer, or Hadarezer, who came to help his vassals, the Syrians (Aram) of Mesopotamia (the region between the Tigris and Euphrates) (2 Samuel 10:16; 2 Samuel 10:19).

When Joab returned. This he did not do until he had, at the head of the main army, fully conquered the Syrians; so that Hengstenberg's translation must be adopted, 'when he had beaten down' or 'laid waste Aram-naharaim and Aramzobah.' Psalms 60:4 alludes to this victory, and to that over Edom in the valley of Salt, as the token that the expedition for occupying Edom, in revenge for his invasion of Israel, would succeed.

And smote of Edom in the valley of Salt. Here also was the scene of Amaziah's victory over Edom long subsequently (2 Kings 14:7; 2 Chronicles 25:11-12) - the plain at the south end of the Dead Sea, where terminates the Ghor, or valley of the Jordan. The Khasm Usdum (a mount of rock-salt) is in its northwest corner. David as king, Joab as commander-in-chief, and Abishai, under Joab, smote Edom (cf. 2 Samuel 8:13; 2 Samuel 10:10, with 1 Chronicles 18:12).

Twelve thousand. Instead, we find 18,000 mentioned both in 2 Samuel 8:13 and 1 Chronicles 18:12. Yarchi and Kimchi explain by supposing that Abishai first slew 6,000, and afterward Joab 12,000, when he returned from smiting Syria.

O God, thou hast cast us off - (Psalms 43:2; Psalms 44:9).

Thou hast scattered us - literally, 'thou hast made a breach in us:' a Davidic phrase (2 Samuel 5:20; 2 Samuel 6:8; cf. Judges 21:15; Job 16:14). The reference here is to the losses sustained already in the war with the Syrians and especially through the invasion of Edom.

O turn thyself to us again - rather present, 'thou turnest to us again in compassion.' So the Septuagint, Vulgate, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions. As Psalms 60:2-3 expand the first part of the verse, as to the effects of God's displeasure, so Psalms 60:4 expands this clause concerning God's now returning to comfort His people; literally, 'thou causest (our former prosperity) to return to us.'

Verse 2

Thou hast made the earth to tremble; thou hast broken it: heal the breaches thereof; for it shaketh.

Thou hast made the earth to tremble - an image for political convulsion and rending of the nation.

Heal the breaches thereof. The healing already has begun (Psalms 60:1; Psalms 60:4): perfect it now. Heal the breaches thereof. The healing already has begun (Psalms 60:1; Psalms 60:4): perfect it now.

Verse 3

Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.

Thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment -- judgments stupifying and confounding, as wine intoxicates the brain (Jeremiah 13:12-13; 1 Kings 22:27). "Bread of affliction ... water of affliction" (Psalms 75:8; Isaiah 51:17-22). As drunkenness prostrates the bodily powers, so were we in a state of helpless misery.

Verse 4

Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.

Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth - (Psalms 20:5.) Thou hast given us by the recent victory, after our prostrate condition, a banner of triumph to lift up (so the Hebrew), because of thy faithfulness to thy promise. "The truth" here answers to God's "holiness" (Psalms 60:6). Compare Romans 15:8. So long as soldiers see their banner uplifted, they flock round it with confidence. But when it is prostrate, their spirits and hopes fall. The "banner" is a pledge of safety, and a rallying point to those who fight under it.

Verse 5

That thy beloved may be delivered; save with thy right hand, and hear me.

That thy beloved may be delivered, save with thy right hand - prayer for the completion of the deliverance already begun. God's grace, heretofore vouchsafed, ought not to slacken, but to quicken our prayers.

And hear me. So the Keri, or Hebrew margin, to accord with the following singulars "I ... I." But the Hebrew text, 'hear us.' The singulars following really denote plurality - i:e., the whole people. The original passage of "thy beloved" is Deuteronomy 33:12, "The beloved of the Lord," Benjamin, the representative of the whole people. "Save with thy right hand" perhaps refers to the meaning of Benjamin, "son of my right hand." Compare the name given by David to Solomon, "Jedidiah," beloved of Jah (2 Samuel 12:25).

Verse 6

God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth.

God hath spoken in his holiness - alluding to God's promise that His people should possess Canaan (Genesis 49:1-33; Deuteronomy 33:1), and vanquish their foes (Numbers 24:17-19). So the title, 'the lily of the testimony' (Shushan-eduth), refers to God's lovely promises to Israel in the law. "In His holiness" means 'in His character as the Holy One,' infinitely raised above deceit or change (Psalms 89:35; Numbers 23:19).

I will rejoice - at His sure promises. The people personified speaks: so in Psalms 60:10; Psalms 60:12, the plural follows: us

... our.

I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth - i:e., the whole of Canaan, alike the region east of Jordan, represented by Succoth, as also that west of Jordan, represented by Sechem, is my inalienable possession according to God's assignation. Therefore the Edomite invaders cannot oust me from it. Jacob's successive settlement at Succoth and Shechem, on his return from the same Mesopotamia whence the Israelite host was now returned, typified this occupancy of the whole land by his posterity (Genesis 33:17-18). On the reference to the division of the land in the word "I will divide," cf. Joshua 13:7; Joshua 18:8.

Verse 7

Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver;

Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine. The very language of Jacob is referred to in Genesis 48:5, "Ephraim and Manasseh ... are mine, as Reuben and Simeon they shall be mine." Gilead and Manasseh are connected with Succoth, as comprising all the region east of Jordon.

Ephraim also is the strength of mine head - i:e., is the fortress which protects my head, the most vital part (Psalms 27:1; Psalms 68:21). Ephraim and Judah were the chief tribes of the nation west of Jordan. Ephriam was eminent for its power and riches (Genesis 48:19; Deuteronomy 33:17).

Judah is my lawgiver - as being Israel's ruling tribe. The reference is to Genesis 49:10, "The sceptre shall not depart from, Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet."

Verse 8

Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of me. Moab is my washpot - or washing-tub: expressing the ignominious subjection to which David reduced Moab (2 Samuel 8:2). To wash the feet is the office of a slave (John 13:8).

Over Edom will I cast out my shoe. The person who is about to wash his feet casts his shoe to a slave (Matthew 3:11; Acts 13:25). Translate 'to (not over) Edom' (Hengstenberg). Or else the idea of casting the shoe in contempt upon Edom expresses at once the taking possession victoriously of the Edomite land, and the treading upon the pride of Edom, wherewith he had trodden the Israelite land as an invader. So Psalms 60:12; 2 Samuel 8:14. The casting of the shoe was a symbol of transference of possession (Ruth 4:7; Joshua 10:24). So Muis. I prefer this.

Philistia. Moab Edom, Philistia, are mentioned in geographical order, beginning at the east, thence along the south to the west of the Holy Land.

Triumph thou because of me - raise a shout of joy for me, acknowledging me as your king (Psalms 41:11); in order to avert your destruction by me. In Psalms 108:9, "over Philistia will I triumph." Philistia's rejoicing in the triumph of Israel's king is "with trembling," (Psalms 2:11; Psalms 18:44, margin), Philistia, who had once triumphed over Israel's fall beneath herself, must now reluctantly join in Israel's triumph over herself (2 Samuel 8:1; 2 Samuel 8:14; 1 Chronicles 8:13). At the same time there is the covert implication that Israel's triumph will prove ultimately for Philistia's good; because Israel will at last be a blessing to the Gentile world.

Verses 9-12

Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?

-Anticipation of, and prayer for, success in the expedition against Edom.

Verse 9. Who will bring me into the strong city? - `the city of strength' (Psalms 31:21): Petra, or Sela, the rock-built city of Idumea (2 Kings 14:7).

Verse 10. Writ not thou, O God - because of thy promise (Psalms 60:6).

Which hadst cast us off, and thou, O God, which didst not go out with our armies? - quoted from Psalms 44:9. Faith believes the final fulfillment of the promise, in spite of contrary appearances for a time.

Verse 11. Vain is the help of man. "Vain" - i:e., 'deceptive,' disappointing.

Verse 12. Through God we shall do valiantly - according to Balaam's prophecy (Numbers 24:18).

He ... shall tread down our enemies - fulfilled against Edom (2 Samuel 8:14; Psalms 44:5).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 60". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.