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Psalm 60:1

ESV To the choirmaster: according to Shushan Eduth. A Miktam of David; for instruction; when he strove with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and when Joab on his return struck down twelve thousand of Edom in the Valley of Salt. O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses; you have been angry; oh, restore us.
NIV For the director of music. To the tune of 'The Lily of the Covenant.' A miktam of David. For teaching. When he fought Aram Naharaim and Aram Zobah, and when Joab returned and struck down twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us; you have been angry--now restore us!
NASB God, You have rejected us. You have broken us; You have been angry; restore us!
CSB God, you have rejected us; you have broken us down; you have been angry. Restore us!
NLT You have rejected us, O God, and broken our defenses. You have been angry with us; now restore us to your favor.
KJV O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again.

What does Psalm 60:1 mean?

The title and description of this psalm look ahead to what happened after it was composed. While David was at war with the Ammonites and Arameans to the north (2 Samuel 8; 1 Chronicles 18) Israel was attacked from the south by Edom. This psalm is a desperate prayer for God to help Israel survive this onslaught. It ends with a confident declaration that the Lord will provide victory (Psalm 60:12). David would send Abishai (1 Chronicles 18:12) and Joab (1 Chronicles 11:6) to counter the Edomites, resulting in a great victory. This occurred south of the Dead Sea, in a place called the Valley of Salt.

That this song is meant "for instruction" probably refers to the Lord's response to David's prayer. While David acknowledges the dire situation, he neither panics nor abandons faith. His initial reaction to the Edomite invasion was grief. He recognizes this as a serious, devastating blow. At the same time, David accepts God's control over the situation. According to David, it is the Lord who has "rejected," "broken," and "been angry," so it is the Lord he begs for "restoration." These words are a reminder that a nation needs to trust in God instead of in its military forces and weaponry. Psalm 20:7–8 says, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lᴏʀᴅ our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright." Psalm 118:8 teaches that "it is better to take refuge in the Lᴏʀᴅ than to trust in man."

This psalm credits Joab with "twelve thousand" enemy defeated during this event. First Chronicles 18:12 gives "eighteen thousand" for Abishai and 2 Samuel 8:13 assigns the same number to David. This seems to reflect a chain of command. David was the overall commander of the war; Abishai would have been charged with leading the counterattack. Joab's forces, as part of that assault, apparently were responsible for most enemy losses.

The words of this psalm were likely meant to be sung to an established melody. The Hebrew phrase susan' 'ēdut' literally means "lily of the testimony." Some translations render this into English, as with the melodies noted in other psalms (Psalm 22:1; 56:1). Others transliterate the phrase as "Shushan Eduth" or something similar. A "miktam" seems to be a style of music (Psalm 16:1; 56:1; 57:1; 58:1; 59:1). The choirmaster would have been the person leading corporate worship.
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