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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 60

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Psalms 60:0


Lament Over Defeat in Battle, and Prayer for Help MT Intro For the choir director; according to Sushan Eduth. Mikhtam of David, to teach; when he struggled with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and Joab returned, and smote twelve thousand of Edom in the Valley of Salt. Urgent Prayer for the Restored Favor of God Prayer for Deliverance From National Enemies A Prayer for Deliverance National Prayer After Defeat
Psalms 60:1-5 Psalms 60:1-3 Psalms 60:1-3 Psalms 60:1-5 Psalms 60:1-2
Psalms 60:3-4
Psalms 60:4-5 Psalms 60:4-5
Psalms 60:5
Psalms 60:6-8 Psalms 60:6-8 Psalms 60:6-8 Psalms 60:6-8 Psalms 60:6
Psalms 60:7
Psalms 60:8
Psalms 60:9-12 Psalms 60:9-12 Psalms 60:9-12 Psalms 60:9-12 Psalms 60:9-10
Psalms 60:11-12

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 60:1-5 1O God, You have rejected us. You have broken us; You have been angry; O, restore us. 2You have made the land quake, You have split it open; Heal its breaches, for it totters. 3You have made Your people experience hardship; You have given us wine to drink that makes us stagger. 4You have given a banner to those who fear You, That it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah. 5That Your beloved may be delivered, Save with Your right hand, and answer us!

Psalms 60:1-3 This strophe describes how the psalmist perceives his/Israel's relationship with YHWH.

1. He has rejected us BDB 276, KB 276, Qal perfect, cf. Psalms 44:9, Psalms 44:23; Psalms 74:1; Psalms 77:7; Psalms 108:11

2. He has broken us BDB 829, KB 971, Qal perfect, possibly related to a breach in a defensive wall

3. He has been angry BDB 60, KB 72, Qal perfect

4. He has made their land quake BDB 950, KB 1271, Hiphil perfect

5. He has made the land split open BDB 822, KB 954, Qal perfect, rare word, only here and a related form in Jeremiah 22:14, where it is translated “cut out”

6. He made His people experience hardship BDB 906, KB 1157, Hiphil perfect

7. He gave them wine to drink (i.e., cause drunkenness and staggering) BDB 1052, KB 1639, Hiphil perfect, the cup might be for the nations (cf. Jeremiah 25:16-26), is now given to the covenant people with the same effect (cf. Isaiah 51:17, Isaiah 51:22)

Notice that all the verbs are perfects, which denotes a settled condition. In light of this the psalmist prays that God will

1. restore us BDB 996, KB 1427, Polel imperfect, cf. Psalms 80:3, Psalms 80:7, Psalms 80:19; Psalms 85:4; Psalms 126:1; Lamentations 5:21

2. heal (i.e., “restore,” NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 1163) the land BDB 950, KB 1272, Qal imperative, cf. 2 Chronicles 7:14; this may refer to the breach in the wall of Psalms 60:1b

It must be stated that all of these prayer requests for God's help, protection, deliverance are based on His people's faith and lifestyle (cf. 2 Chronicles 6:37-39). All God's promises (except for the ones connected to Messiah and His ministry) are conditional (see SPECIAL TOPIC: COVENANT).


Psalms 60:1 The rejection by God (cf. Psalms 60:1, Psalms 60:10) of His people (cf. Psalms 60:3, Psalms 60:5) is shocking! We must remember that God had a purpose for Israel. She was to be a mechanism for the worldwide revelation of God's character and purposes (see SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH's ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN, cf. Ezekiel 36:22-38). This demanded faithful covenant obedience (cf. 1 Chronicles 28:9). Because of the Fall of Genesis 3:0 they could not; judgment was the only option (cf. Leviticus 26:0; Deuteronomy 27-30).

The phrase “in His holiness” in Psalms 60:6 is a powerful reminder of the character of God that He wants His people to emulate and model for the nations (see SPECIAL TOPIC: CHARACTERISTICS OF ISRAEL'S GOD).

A new approach was necessary. This new approach is called “the new covenant” (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-38), which the NT clarifies as the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Psalms 60:4-5 To me this should be a separate strophe (cf. NKJV, NRSV). The subject changes from Psalms 60:1-3. This strophe describes YHWH's actions on behalf of Israel.

1. He has given those who revere Him a banner (BDB 651, i.e., a visible sign or way to communicate, cf. Exodus 17:15; Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 11:12; Isaiah 13:2; Psalms 20:5); this could be a negative (i.e., flee) or positive (i.e., rally to) expression.

2. He wants it displayed to communicate Himself (i.e., the truth; the Hebrew consonants קשׁט can mean “of the bow” or “truth,” BDB 905; UBS Text Project support “of the bow” with a “B” rating (some doubt); the NRSV, NJB, NET Bible; REB support this choice but NKJV and JPSOA have “truth.” The word for “bow” has an added vowel only here.

The point seems to be that YHWH is providing some support to Israel by His presence with them in battle.

Psalms 60:4 “Selah” See notes at Psalms 3:2 and Intro. to Psalms, VII.

Psalms 60:5-12 This is repeated in Psalms 108:6-13.

Psalms 60:5 “Your beloved” This adjective (BDB 391) is used of YHWH's covenant people (cf. Isaiah 5:1; Jeremiah 11:15; Jeremiah 12:7). It is a strong, passionate description.

This verse has two prayer requests based on Psalms 60:4.

1. save us (MT; Qere “me”) BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative, i.e., by Your actions, cf. Psalms 3:7; Psalms 20:9

2. answer us (MT, Qere “me”) BDB 772, KB 851, Qal imperative

The UBS Text Project (p. 277) gives the MT's “us” a “C” rating (considerable doubt). The plural is in Psalms 60:10 and 11.

“Your right hand” This is a Hebrew idiom of power and effective action (cf. Exodus 15:6; Psalms 17:7; Psalms 44:3; Psalms 98:1; Psalms 108:6; Psalms 138:7; Psalms 139:10, see SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND).

Verses 6-8

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 60:6-8 6God has spoken in His holiness: “I will exult, I will portion out Shechem and measure out the valley of Succoth. 7”Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine; Ephraim also is the helmet of My head; Judah is My scepter. 8”Moab is My washbowl; Over Edom I shall throw My shoe; Shout loud, O Philistia, because of Me!”

Psalms 60:6-8 This strophe extols YHWH's sovereignty (or “holiness,” BDB 871) over the nations (cf. Deuteronomy 32:8). These verses are repeated in Psalms 108:6-13, which means it may have been part of liturgy. It may be connected to Exodus 15:14-17. YHWH Himself speaks (i.e., “God has spoken” BDB 180, KB 210, Piel perfect).

1. I will exult BDB 759, KB 831, Qal cohortative

2. I will portion out BDB 323, KB 322, Piel cohortative

3. I will measure out BDB 551, KB 547, Piel imperfect used in a cohortative sense

4-5. “ is mine”

6. “ is the helmet of My head”

7. “ is My scepter”

8. “over I shall throw my shoe” (i.e., an idiom of contempt)

9. “ shout loud, because of Me” (possibly should be, “over Philistia I will shout aloud,” like Psalms 108:9c)

Notice the place names are all in the tribal allocations of Joshua.

1. one city Shechem

2. one valley valley of Succoth

3. one area Gilead

4. three tribes Manasseh, Ephraim, Judah (for Judah as scepter see Genesis 49:10)

5. three defeated Canaanite nations Moab, Edom, Philistia

Verses 9-12

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 60:9-12 9Who will bring me into the besieged city? Who will lead me to Edom? 10Have not You Yourself, O God, rejected us? And will You not go forth with our armies, O God? 11O give us help against the adversary, For deliverance by man is in vain. 12Through God we shall do valiantly, And it is He who will tread down our adversaries.

Psalms 60:9-12 This strophe speaks of the impossibility of military victories without YHWH's help and presence (i.e., Holy War).

1. Psalms 60:9 asks the military question

2. Psalms 60:10 asserts the spiritual reality (i.e., Holy War) that unless YHWH goes before Israel's army, no victory is possible, cf. Psalms 44:9; Psalms 108:11

3. Psalms 60:11 asserts the physical reality that military victory by humans is vain and fleeting

4. Psalms 60:12 asserts that only with YHWH can there be victory, cf. Deuteronomy 20:1; 1 Samuel 17:45, 1 Samuel 17:47; Psalms 20:7; Psalms 22:16-17; Psalms 44:1-3, Psalms 44:5-7; Psalms 146:3; Zechariah 4:6). This is referring to the victory of God's purposes in Israel as a light to the nations, not just a conqueror.

The whole point of these assertions is the question of Psalms 60:10, “Have You, Yourself, O God, rejected us?” Unless He gives help there is no hope (Psalms 60:11b). If He does, there will be victory (Psalms 60:12), both for God's purpose (see SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH's ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN) and Israel's security and peace.


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Read the Psalm and try to divide it into subjects, topics. Do you think Psalms 60:1-3 and Psalms 60:4-5 are separate topics?

2. What is the theological purpose of Psalms 60:6-8? Why is it repeated in Psalms 108:0?

3. Psalms 60:8 has several negative images. Explain them

4. What is the main theological truth of Psalms 60:9-12?

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 60". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-60.html. 2021.
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