What does Psalms 60 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
During his military campaigns, David fought the Arameans and Ammonites to the north of Israel. These wars are recorded, in part, in 2 Samuel chapter 8 and 1 Chronicles chapter 18. At one point during the northern campaign, it seems that Edom made a surprise attack from the south. This was a dire threat, as David's response in this psalm proves. The psalm is labelled "for instruction" likely because of the outcome. David prays for rescue, while expressing faithful confidence in the Lord's intent to save Israel. Abishai, sent by David and aided by Joab, was able to counter the Edomites and attain a great victory (1 Chronicles 11:6; 18:12).

The Hebrew phrase susan' 'ēdut' literally means "lily of the testimony." Many Bible versions translate this phrase into English, as they do titles for other melodies associated with various psalms (Psalm 22:1; 56:1). Other scholars transliterate the phrase into variations of "Shushan Eduth." A "miktam" was most likely a musical style (Psalm 16:1; 56:1; 57:1; 58:1; 59:1). The choirmaster would have led corporate worship.

The psalm begins with David expressing grief and horror. Despite this, his words speak only in terms of God's actions. Even in this circumstance, David's instinct is to see the Lord as sovereign over all things. The land is torn and shattered by invaders. The situation is grim, with the spread-out army in a state of shock and confusion almost like being drunk. Yet David knows that the Lord is in control. Even in this situation, He is leading His people (Psalm 60:1–5).

Next, the Lord responds by describing territories within Israel and those in enemy lands. He speaks reassuringly of His chosen people. Gilead and Manasseh, stretching over both sides of the Jordan River, are in His control. The powerful tribe of Ephraim acts as a defensive "helmet" for the nation. The tribe of Judah is the source of legitimate kings. In contrast, God speaks of Moab as a mere tool. Edom—the invading nation—is slated for defeat, as are the Philistines (Psalm 60:6–8).

When Mary was told she would give birth to Jesus, she reacted with wonder at "how," not "if," God would make this occur (Luke 1:34). In a similar way, David saw no evidence that God was—at that moment—aiding Israel. He knows victory is only possible with God's power; yet when this psalm was written he hadn't yet seen the means the Lord would use. Yet David speaks with confidence, repeating his prayer and expressing trust that with God's help, the nation will succeed (Psalm 60:9–12).
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.
Psalm 60:6–8 follows David's lament that the Lord had seemed to abandon His people. However, David believes God will provide a rallying point to which Israel can flee and escape the enemy. Now he delivers a message from God concerning lands He gave to the tribes of Israel. This is contrasted with the Lord's defeat of Israel's enemies.
Psalm 60:9–12 asks three questions, repeating David's distress over a sudden invasion by the nation of Edom (Psalm 60:1–5). The Lord had responded with a declaration that He was in control of all things, including victory over the enemy (Psalm 60:6–8). David wonders aloud how this will happen but concludes with a declaration of faith. He trusts that the Lord will lead Israel to victory.
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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