What does Psalm 60:1 mean?
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.
NKJV: {To the Chief Musician. Set to “Lily of the Testimony.” A Michtam of David. For teaching. When he fought against Mesopotamia and Syria of Zobah, and Joab returned and killed twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.} O God, You have cast us off; You have broken us down; You have been displeased; Oh, restore us again!
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Psalm 60:1–5 expresses David's combination of dismay and faith. He is occupied with war in the north, so news of a southern invasion is a dangerous catastrophe. Yet he speaks only of God's power and work, including confidence that the Lord will provide a means of rescue. Events occurring after this psalm was written are recorded in 2 Samuel 8 and 1 Chronicles 18.
Chapter Summary:
David addresses God with great dismay. He describes the territory of Israel as abandoned by God, broken, and shattered by an enemy invasion. Yet David speaks in terms of God's actions and God's ultimate control. The Lord responds with His intent to save Israel and crush the enemy. David wonders how this will happen but expresses trust that God will keep His word. This psalm corresponds to the military actions of David recorded in 2 Samuel 8 and 1 Chronicles 18.
Chapter Context:
This psalm appears to have been written when David was battling the Arameans and Ammonites (2 Samuel 8:3; 1 Chronicles 18:3). While the army was engaged in the north, Edomites attacked Israel from the south and inflicted heavy damage. The psalm entreats God to cause Israel to triumph over the Edomites. Scripture records that the prayer was successful. David sent Abishai, accompanied by Joab and a contingent of soldiers, who routed the enemy (1 Chronicles 18:12; 2 Samuel 8:13).
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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