To the chief Musician upon Shushaneduth, Michtam of David, to teach; when he strove with Aramnaharaim and with Aramzobah, when Joab returned, and smote of Edom in the valley of salt twelve thousand. O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again.Psalm 60:1. O God, thou hast cast us off — So highly had our sins provoked thy divine majesty, that thou didst reject or forsake us, so as to withdraw thy gracious and powerful presence from us, and no longer to go forth with our armies. Thus the Psalm begins with a melancholy memorial of the many disgraces and disappointments with which God had, for some years past, chastised the people. For, during the reign of Saul, especially in the latter part of it, and during David’s struggle with the house of Saul, while he reigned over Judah only, the affairs of the kingdom were much perplexed, and the neighbouring nations were very vexatious to them. Thou hast scattered us — Hebrew, פרצתנו, peratztanu, thou hast broken us; partly by that dreadful overthrow by the Philistines, 1 Samuel 31., and partly by the civil war in our own country between Judah and Israel. Thou hast been displeased — And thy displeasure, caused by our sins, has been the source of all our sufferings. Whatever our trouble may be, and whoever may be the instruments of it, we must own the righteous hand of God in it. O turn thyself to us again — Be at peace with us; smile upon and take part with us, and we shall again have prosperity.
Thou hast made the earth to tremble; thou hast broken it: heal the breaches thereof; for it shaketh.Psalm 60:2-3. Thou hast made the earth to tremble — A poetical expression, signifying great and dreadful changes among the people. Heal the breaches thereof — Reconcile all those differences which our civil wars have made among us. Thou hast showed thy people hard things — Thou hast made us feel what it is to offend thee, by inflicting grievous punishments upon us; thou hast made us drink the wine of astonishment — Thou hast fulfilled the words of thy servant Moses, Deuteronomy 28:34, for we have been like men bereft of the use of their reason by some intoxicating portion, and have madly destroyed one another.
Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.
Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.Psalm 60:4-5. Thou hast given a banner, &c. — But now thou hast granted the desires of those that devoutly worship and serve thee, and given an ensign to which all the tribes may repair. David, says Dr. Delaney, was the only centre of union which that people ever had, and God now made him their captain and ruler to manifest the truth of those promises which had been made to him long before. But the banner here is not only to be considered as a sign and instrument of their union, intimating that they, who were lately divided under several banners, should now be gathered together and united under one; but also of battle and war. As if he had said, Thou hast given us an army and power to oppose our enemies: we have our banner to set against theirs. Though the Philistines and other nations have long been too hard for us, by reason of our divisions, yet now thou hast united us under one government, that the people may unanimously fight against their enemies. To them that fear thee — Or, for, or on behalf of, them that fear thee; an emphatical passage, implying that God gave this great blessing to the people of Israel for the sake of those few sincere Israelites, who were among them. That it may be displayed because of the truth — Not for any merit of ours, but to show thy faithfulness in making good thy promises. That thy beloved may be delivered, &c. — That by thy mighty power accompanying my arms, I may be an instrument of delivering thy beloved people from those that have oppressed them; save with thy right hand — With thine own power: and with such instruments as thou art pleased to make use of. Observe, reader, they that fear God are his beloved; they are dear to him as the apple of his eye: they are often in distress, but they shall be delivered, for God’s own right hand shall save them.
That thy beloved may be delivered; save with thy right hand, and hear me.
God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth.Psalm 60:6. God hath spoken, &c. — Having prayed that God would hear and save him, he now intimates that God had done it already, had prevented his prayers, and had spoken to him, and of him, about the establishing of his throne; in his holiness — Or, rather, by his holiness, as this very expression, בקדשׁו, bekodsho, is rendered, Psalm 89:35. Which carries the form of an oath, and implies, that God did not simply speak, but swore by his holiness, as is there expressed. I will rejoice — Therefore I will turn my prayers into praises, for what God has already done; and, as I am assured, will further do on my behalf. I will divide Shechem — Namely, as a portion or inheritance, as אחלקה, achallekah, properly signifies. I will exercise dominion over, and distribute it to be possessed as I see good. Shechem was a place within Jordan in mount Ephraim. And mete out the valley of Succoth — A place without Jordan. He mentions Shechem and Succoth for all the land of Canaan within and without Jordan, which, having been formerly divided between him and Ish-bosheth, was now entirely in his possession. Some, however, think that the expression is proverbial, and only means, I will divide the spoils of my enemies with as much ease as the sons of Jacob portioned out Shechem, and measured out for their tents the valley of Succoth.
Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver;Psalm 60:7. Gilead is mine — All the land beyond Jordan, which was possessed by Reuben and Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh. And Manasseh is mine — The other half of that tribe within Jordan. Ephraim is the strength, &c. — A chief part of my strength, either to offend mine enemies, or to defend myself. For this tribe was very numerous, and valiant, and rich. Judah is my lawgiver — The chief seat of my throne and kingdom, and of the inferior throne of judgment, Psalm 122:5. The tribe to which the royal sceptre and lawgiver were appropriated by divine appointment, Genesis 49:10. Thus he exultingly surveys his strength, Gilead and Manasseh comprehending the whole country beyond Jordan, as did Ephraim and Judah that on this side of it.
Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of me.Psalm 60:8. Moab is my wash-pot — The wash-pot being a mean article of household stuff, for the use of the feet, (as the Syriac interprets it,) the lowest part of the body, it is a fit title for the Moabites, whom David intended to bring into the lowest degree of servitude, and to render contemptible, 2 Samuel 8:2. Over Edom — An old, proud, insolent, and cruel enemy of Israel; will I cast my shoe — I will use them like slaves. I will, as it were, trample upon them; a proverbial expression. Philistia, triumph thou because of me — Or, over me, as in former years thou didst use to triumph and insult over the poor Israelites. It is an ironical expression, signifying that her triumphs were to come to an end. Bishop Patrick gives a different interpretation to this clause, thus: “The Philistines likewise, whom I have begun to smite, shall add to my triumphs, and be forced to meet me as their conquering Lord.”
Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?Psalm 60:9-10. Who will bring me into the strong city, &c. — As if he had said, These are difficult things indeed; and I may well ask, when I consider how potent these nations are, By what power shall I enter that strongly fenced city? (or, cities rather, the singular number being put for the plural.) Who is it that will conduct me into Idumea, and make me master of it? None can do it but God. Having beaten his enemies out of the field, he desires God’s assistance to take their strong holds, and so secure himself from further attempts. Edom was a high and rocky country, Obadiah Psalm 60:3, fortified by nature, as well as by art, and therefore not to be subdued without a divine hand. Wilt not thou, &c., who didst not go out with our armies — Namely, in former times; but now hast graciously returned to us. He brings to his own mind, and to the minds of the people, their former calamities, that they might be more thankful for present mercies and deliverances.
Wilt not thou, O God, which hadst cast us off? and thou, O God, which didst not go out with our armies?
Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.Psalm 60:11-12. Give us help from trouble — Do not frustrate these hopes, but afford us thy help against the Syrians also 2 Samuel 8:5, who now distress us; for vain is the help of man — No human force is able to deliver us; nor have we any confidence in it, but in thee alone. Observe well, reader, then only are we qualified to receive help from God, when we are brought to own the insufficiency of all creatures to do that for us which we expect him to do. Through God we shall do valiantly — Through his help we shall behave ourselves courageously, and do valiant acts; for he it is that shall tread down our enemies — And not we ourselves. Though we do ever so valiantly, the success must be attributed entirely to him. All our victories, as well as our valour, are from him, and therefore at his feet all our crowns must be laid. Observe again, reader, as it is only through God, and by the influence of his grace, that we can, at any time, do valiantly; as it is he that puts strength into us, and inspires us, who of ourselves are weak and timorous, with true courage and resolution; so confidence in him is the best principle, and chief means of this courage and fortitude. But we must remember this confidence must be so far from superseding, that it must encourage and quicken our endeavours in the way of duty. For though it is God that performeth all things for us, and worketh in us to will and to do, yet we must be workers together with him.
Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.