Summary: Psalm 60:1-12 is a lament, apparently prompted by a defeat of Israel's army in battle, but it is also unique, for it is the only one designated explicitly for teaching. Psalm 60 is a lament, apparently prompted by a defeat of Israel's army
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Title: A Psalm in Defeat
Michtam of David, to teach; when he strove with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, when Joab returned, and smote of Edom in the valley of salt twelve thousand; to the chief Musician, sung to the tune of Shushan-eduth ("the lily of testimony [covenants]")
SEE THE CHART AT THE END OF THIS LESSON FOR MORE DETAILS ON THIS SUPERSCRIPTION.
Theme: God's people surrounded by enemies
Psalm 6O (KJV)
1 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.
4 I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.
5 For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.
6 Thou wilt prolong the king's life: and his years as many generations.
7 He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him.
8 So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.
Psalm 60 is a lament, apparently prompted by a defeat of Israel's army in battle, but it is also unique, for it is the only one designated explicitly for teaching. The circumstances are recorded in 2 Samuel 8:1-14; 10:14; 1 Chronicles 18:1-13; and 1 Kings 11, passages that describe David's various victories. It is a national Psalm that was to be taught to the people. ["Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them" (Deuteronomy 31:19)]. The Levites must teach it to the people, and with it teach them both to trust in God and triumph in Him; we must teach it to ourselves and one another.
This psalm expresses confusion in the wake of confidence. Israel had experienced a defeat in battle, usually a sign of God's disfavor. However, in this case, no explanation is given, and the people appear unaware of any reason God would have for allowing them to fall to their enemies.
David complains of hard things (v. 3) which they had seen (that is, which they had suffered), while the Philistines and other hostile neighbors took advantage of them; at every opportunity and for any reason. He admits that God was displeased with them, for he believed that the Lord's displeasure was the cause of all the hardships they had undergone as well as the great defeat they had suffered— "thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased (v. 1)."
The psalm has a footnote that reads: "To the chief Musician upon Neginah.” "Neginah," meaning "smitings," is particularly appropriate in this psalm, which deals with the way David was smiting his foes and the way his enemies were striking at him. Since life is full of smitings, this psalm has something to say to all those living in a time of strife. When we feel the enemy about to overwhelm us in the struggle, let us come back and sing this psalm with the psalmist.
(60:1-5): Something had gone wrong. David was engaged in a fierce fight with his foes and was confident that he was fighting the wars of the Lord. David's battles were a resumption of those Joshua fought. David swept aside all the dreadful years of failure and defeat, apostasy and backsliding, misery and grief under the judges and Saul. He picked up where Joshua left off to carry out the divine commission to clear the promised land of its foes. For too long, they had been entrenched in that which belonged to Israel. David picked up Joshua's fallen sword to finish the job. But something had gone wrong.
1 O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again.
Israel had clamored for a king because its citizens were uneasy about the political stability of the nation. Saul was made that king, but the great disaster at Gilboa ended the reign of Saul. David inherited insurmountable problems, and now, while fighting the Syrians to the north, his kingdom had been invaded by the Edomites to the south. It is in this context that he cries, "O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased." David felt that Israel had been cast aside by God and shunned with contempt. No greater calamity can occur in the life of God's people than to be a castaway from Him; this idea had even invaded the mind of the Apostle Paul, for he said: "I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:27). Paul was afraid that he might be denied, rejected, cast off, that it would appear, after all, that he lacked faith, and was not faithful to his religion, and would then be cast away as unfit to enter into heaven.