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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Psalms 60


Psalms 60:0

Shushan-eduth: this, like the rest, seems to be the name of an instrument, or song, or tune, then well known, but now quite unknown and forgotten; it may be and is by some rendered, the lily or rose of thy testimony or oracle; but why it was so called is a matter of mere conjecture, and of small importance to us to know. To teach, to wit, in an eminent manner; or for the special instruction of God’s church and people in some points of great moment; as, concerning the grievous calamities to which God’s church and people were obnoxious, Psalms 60:1-3, and concerning the certainty of God’s promises, and of their deliverance out of them, upon condition of their faith and obedience; which doctrines were of great moment, especially to the Israelites, who were, and were likely to be, exercised in the same manner, and with the same variety and vicissitudes of condition, under which their ancestors had been. Or whereas other songs were to be learned only by the Levites, or by some of them, this possibly was one of them, which the people also were to be taught, and were to sing upon occasion, because of the public and general concernment which they all had in the matter herein contained.

Verse 1

Aram-naharaim; or, the Syrians (so called from Aram, the son of Shem, Genesis 10:22) of the two rivers, or of Mesopotamia, the country between those two great and famous rivers, Tigris and Euphrates. Aram-zobah, or, the Syrians of Zobah, part of Syria so called, 2 Samuel 8:5,2 Samuel 8:12.

This report seems not to agree with the histories to which this Psalm is supposed to relate, 2 Samuel 8:13; 1 Chronicles 18:12, neither in the persons slain, who are Edomites 1 Chronicles 18:12, but Syrians here, and 2 Samuel 8:13; nor in their numbers, which are here only twelve thousand, and there eighteen thousand; nor in the persons to whom this victory is ascribed, who is Joab here, David 2 Samuel 8:13, and Abishai 1 Chronicles 18:12. But these difficulties may easily be resolved by these considerations:

1. That David being king, and Joab lord-general of all his forces, and Abishai his lieutenant-general as to a considerable part of his army, the same victory may well be ascribed to any or every one of them; as it is usually done in like cases in the Roman and Grecian histories.

2. That the Edomites and Syrians were united in this war.

3. That twelve thousand might be slain in the pitched battle, and the rest by the pursuers in their flight.

4. That these several places may speak of several fights. See more of this business See Poole "2 Samuel 8:13".

The psalmist, complaining of former sad judgments, Psalms 60:1-3, acknowledgeth God’s present mercy, Psalms 60:4. Comforting himself in the promises, he prayeth for help, and therein trusteth, Psalms 60:5-12.

Cast us off; or, rejected or forsaken us, as to thy gracious and powerful presence, not only in the time of the judges, but also during Saul’s reign.

Scattered us, Heb. broken us; partly by that dreadful overthrow by the Philistines, 1 Samuel 31:0, and partly by the civil war in our own bowels, between me and Ishbosheth.

Verse 2

Made the earth to tremble; a poetical and hyperbolical expression, signifying great and dreadful changes among the people, as Haggai 2:7, compared with Hebrews 12:26,Hebrews 12:27. See also 1 Samuel 14:15.

Heal the breaches thereof; reconcile all those differences which our civil wars have made among us.

Verse 3

Thou hast showed, Heb. made them to see, i.e. to experience or feel, as seeing is oft put, as Psalms 49:10, and oft elsewhere. Thou hast filled us with no less horror and trembling, than men intoxicated with strong and stupefying drink, which they are forced to drink. Compare Isaiah 51:17,Isaiah 51:21.

Verse 4

Thou hast given; either,

1. Formerly. As thou hast sometimes afflicted thy people, so at other times thou hast delivered them. Or rather,

2. Now lately by and under me.

A banner; which is a sign and instrument,

1. Of union. This people, who were lately divided and under several banners, thou hast now gathered together and united under one banner, to wit, under my government.

2. Of battle. Thou hast given us an army and power to oppose our enemies. We had our banner to set against theirs.

3. Of triumph. We have not lost our banner, but gained theirs, and brought it away in triumph: compare Psalms 20:5.

To them that feared thee; or, for or on the behalf of them that feared thee. An emphatical passage, implying that God gave so great a blessing to the people of Israel, for the sake of those few sincere Israelites which were among them.

Because of the truth; not for any merit of ours, but to show thy faithfulness in making good thy promises which thou hast made, both to me, concerning the establishing of this kingdom to me and to my seed for ever, and to thy people in general, whom thou hast frequently promised to hear and help when they call upon thee in times of trouble.

Verse 5

Thy beloved people, last mentioned.

Verse 6

God hath spoken: having prayed that God would save and hear him, he now intimates that God had done it already, and had prevented his prayers, and had spoken to him and of him, about the stablishing of his throne.

In his holiness; or, in the sanctuary or holy place, to which David used to resort to ask counsel, and from whence God usually gave out his oracles. Or rather, by his holiness, as this very word is rendered, Psalms 89:35, which carries the form of an oath, and implies that God did not simply speak, but swore by his holiness as it is there expressed. I will rejoice; therefore I will turn my prayers into praises and rejoicings for what God had already done, and, as I am assured, will further do, on my behalf.

I will divide; or, distribute; which supposeth possession and dominion. Shechem; a place within Jordan, in Mount Ephraim. See Genesis 33:18; Joshua 20:7.

Succoth; a place without Jordan. See Genesis 33:17; Joshua 13:27. He mentions Shechem and Succoth, either synecdochically for all the land of Canaan within and without Jordan, which, having been formerly divided between him and Ishbosheth, was now entirely in his possession; or because these two places had been in Ishbosheth’s hands, and possibly were extraordinarily devoted to Saul’s house, and utterly averse from David; or for some other reason now unknown.

Verse 7

Gilead; all their land beyond Jordan, which was possessed by Reuben and Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh, Numbers 32:29,Numbers 32:39,Numbers 32:40; Deuteronomy 3:10, &c.; Joshua 13:25, &c.

Manasseh; the other half of that tribe within Jordan.

Mine head; either,

1. Mine horns, wherewith I shall push mine enemies, according to Moses’s prophecy of that tribe, Deuteronomy 33:17. Or,

2. The keeper of mine head, as Achish spake 1 Samuel 28:2. A chief part of my strength, either to offend mine enemies, or to defend myself. For this tribe was very numerous, and valiant, and rich. See Genesis 48:19; Deuteronomy 33:17; Psalms 78:9.

Judah is my lawgiver; the chief seat of my throne and kingdom, and of the inferior thrones of judgment, Psalms 112:5; the tribe to which the royal sceptre and lawgiver are appropriated by God’s appointment, Genesis 49:10.

Verse 8

Moab is my wash-pot, in which I shall wash my feet. I shall bring them into the lowest degree of servitude, and make them contemptible and miserable. See 2 Samuel 8:2.

Over Edom, an old, and proud, and insolent, and cruel enemy of Israel,

will I cast out my shoe, i.e. I will use them like slaves; either holding forth my shoes, that they may pluck them off; or throwing my shoes at them, either in anger or contempt, as the manner of many masters was and is in such cases. Or, I will take possession of them; which was done by treading upon their land. Or, I will tread upon their necks; as they did in like case, Joshua 10:24. But these notions suit not with this phrase of casting or throwing the shoe.

Philistia, triumph thou because of me; or, over me, as thou didst in former years use to triumph and insult over the poor Israelites. It is an ironical expression, signifying that her triumphs were come to an end.

Verse 9

Who will bring me? None can do it but God, as he declareth in the following verses.

Into the strong city, i.e. the cities; the singular number for the plural, which is usual. Having beaten his enemies out of the field, and into their strong cities, from whence they hoped to renew the war, he desires God’s assistance, whereby he may take their strong holds, and so secure himself from further attempts against him.

Into Edom; which was a high and rocky country, Obadiah 1:3, fortified by nature as well as by art, and therefore not to be invaded and subdued without a Divine hand.

Verse 10

To wit, in former times, but now hast graciously returned to us. He brings to his own and people’s minds their former calamities, that they may be more thankful for present mercies and deliverance.

Verse 11

Though I have some reputation for valour and conduct, and though my people are very numerous, and now united under me, yet all this will avail little or nothing without thy almighty help.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 60". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.