Psalm 60:1
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.
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(1) Hast scattered us.—Literally, hast broken us. A word used of a wall or fence, Psalm 80:12, but in 2Samuel 5:20 applied to the rout of an army, an event which gave its name to the locality, “plain of breaches.” So in English:

“And seeing me, with a great voice he cried,

They are broken, they are broken.”—


On the other hand, the two succeeding verses seem to refer to a political convulsion rather than a military defeat, and it has been conjectured that the breach between the two kingdoms is here indicated. (See the use of perez=breach, in Judges 21:15.)

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.

60:1-5 David owns God's displeasure to be the cause of all the hardships he had undergone. And when God is turning his hand in our favour, it is good to remember our former troubles. In God's displeasure their troubles began, therefore in his favour their prosperity must begin. Those breaches and divisions which the folly and corruption of man make, nothing but the wisdom and grace of God can repair, by pouring out a spirit of love and peace, by which only a kingdom is saved from ruin. The anger of God against sin, is the only cause of all misery, private or public, that has been, is, or shall be. In all these cases there is no remedy, but by returning to the Lord with repentance, faith, and prayer; beseeching him to return to us. Christ, the Son of David, is given for a banner to those that fear God; in him they are gathered together in one, and take courage. In his name and strength they wage war with the powers of darkness.O God, thou hast cast us off - The word used here means properly to be foul, rancid, offensive; and then, to treat anything as if it were foul or rancid; to repel, to spurn, to cast away. See the notes at Psalm 43:2. It is strong language, meaning that God had seemed to treat them as if they were loathsome or offensive to him. The allusion, according to the view taken in the introduction to the psalm, is to some defeat or disaster which had occurred after the conquests in the East, or during the absence of the armies of David in the East 2 Samuel 8; 1 Chronicles 18; probably to the fact that the Edomites had taken occasion to invade the southern part of Palestine, and that the forces employed to expel them had been unsuccessful.

Thou hast scattered us - Margin, broken. So the Hebrew. The word is applied to the forces of war which are broken and scattered by defeat, 2 Samuel 5:20.

Thou hast been displeased - The word used here means "to breathe"; to breathe hard; and then, to be angry. See the notes at Psalm 2:12. God had treated them as if he was displeased or angry. He had suffered them to be defeated.

O turn thyself to us again - Return to our armies, and give us success. This might be rendered, "Thou wilt turn to us;" that is, thou wilt favor us - expressing a confident belief that God would do this, as in Psalm 60:12. It is more in accordance, however, with the usual structure of the Psalms to regard this as a prayer. Many of the psalms begin with a prayer, and end with the expression of a confident assurance that the prayer has been, or would certainly be heard.


Ps 60:1-12. Shushan-eduth—Lily of testimony. The lily is an emblem of beauty (see on [601]Ps 45:1, title). As a description of the Psalm, those terms combined may denote a beautiful poem, witnessing—that is, for God's faithfulness as evinced in the victories referred to in the history cited. Aram-naharaim—Syria of the two rivers, or Mesopotamia beyond the river (Euphrates) (2Sa 10:16). Aram-zobah—Syria of Zobah (2Sa 10:6), to whose king the king of the former was tributary. The war with Edom, by Joab and Abishai (2Ch 18:12, 25), occurred about the same time. Probably, while doubts and fears alternately prevailed respecting the issue of these wars, the writer composed this Psalm, in which he depicts, in the language of God's people, their sorrows under former disasters, offers prayer in present straits, and rejoices in confident hope of triumph by God's aid.

1-3. allude to disasters.

cast … off—in scorn (Ps 43:2; 44:9).

scattered—broken our strength (compare 2Sa 5:20).

Oh, turn thyself—or, "restore to us" (prosperity). The figures of physical, denote great civil, commotions (Ps 46:2, 3).

1 O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again.

2 Thou hast made the earth to tremble; thou hast broken it: heal the breaches thereof, for it shaketh.

3 Thou hast showed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.

Psalm 60:1

Before the days of Saul, Israel had been brought very low; during his government it had suffered from internal strife, and his reign was closed by an overwhelming disaster at Gilboa. David found himself the possessor of a tottering throne, troubled with the double evil of faction at home, and invasion from abroad. He traced at once the evil to its true source, and began at the fountainhead. His were the politics of piety, which after all are the wisest and most profound. He knew that the displeasure of the Lord had brought calamity upon the nation, and to the removal of that displeasure he set himself by earnest prayer. "O God, thou hast cut us off." Thou hast treated us as foul and offensive things, to be put away; as mean and beggarly persons, to be shunned with contempt; as useless dead boughs to be torn away from the tree which they disfigure. To be cast off by God is the worst calamity that can befal a man or a people; but the worst form of it is when the person is not aware of it and is indifferent to it. When the divine desertion causes mourning and repentance, it will be but partial and temporary. When a cast-off soul sighs for its God it is not indeed cast off at all. "Thou hast scattered us." David clearly sees the fruits of the divine anger, he traces the flight of Israel's warriors, the breaking of her power, the division in her body politic, to the hand of God. Whoever might be the secondary agent of these disasters, he beholds the Lord's hand as the prime moving cause, and pleads with the Lord concerning the matter. Israel was like a city with a breach made in its wall, because her God was wroth with her. These first two verses, with their depressing confession, must be regarded as greatly enhancing the power of the faith which in the after verses rejoices in better days, through the Lord's gracious return unto his people. "Thou hast been displeased." This is the secret of our miseries. Had we pleased thee, thou wouldst have pleased us; but as we have walked contrary to thee, thou hast walked contrary to us. "O turn thyself to us again." Forgive the sin and smile once more. Turn us to thee, turn thou to us. Aforetime thy face was towards thy people, be pleased to look on us again with thy favour and grace. Some read it, "Thou wilt turn to us again," and it makes but slight difference which way we take it, for a true-hearted prayer brings a blessing so soon that it is no presumption to consider it as already obtained. There was more need for God to turn to his people than for Judah's troops to be brave, or Joab and the commanders wise. God with us is better than strong battalions; God displeased is more terrible than all the Edomites that ever marched into the valley of salt, or all the devils that ever opposed the church. If the Lord turn to us, what care we for Aram-naharaim or Aram-zobah, or death, or hell? but if he withdraw his presence we tremble at the fall of a leaf.

Psalm 60:2

"Thou hast made the earth to tremble." Things were as unsettled as though the solid earth had been made to quake; nothing was stable; the priests had been murdered by Saul, the worst men had been put in office, the military power had been broken by the Philistines, and the civil authority had grown despicable through insurrections and intestine contests. "Thou hast broken it." As the earth cracks, and opens itself in rifts during violent earthquakes, so was the kingdom rent with strife and calamity. "Heal the breaches thereof." As a house in time of earthquakes is shaken, and the walls begin to crack, and gape with threatening fissures, so was it with the kingdom. "For it shaketh." It tottered to a fall; if not soon propped up and repaired it would come down in complete ruin. So far gone was Israel, that only God's interposition could preserve it from utter destruction. How often have we seen churches in this condition, and how suitable is the prayer before us, in which the extremity of the need is used, as an argument for help. The like may be said of our own personal religion, it is sometimes so tried, that like a house shaken by earthquake it is ready to come down with a crash, and none but the Lord himself can repair its breaches, and save us from utter destruction.

Psalm 60:3

"Thou hast showed thy people hard things." Hardships had been heaped upon them, and the Psalmist traces these rigorous providences to their fountainhead. Nothing had happened by chance, but all had come by divine design and with a purpose, yet for all that things had gone hard with Israel. The Psalmist claims that they were still the Lord's own people, though in the first verse he had said, "thou hast cast us off." The language of complaint is usually confused, and faith in time of trouble ere long contradicts the desponding statements of the flesh. "Thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment." Our afflictions have made us like men drunken with some potent and bitter wine; we are in amazement, confusion, delirium; our steps reel, and we stagger as those about to fall. The great physician gives his patients potent potions to purge out their abounding and deep-seated diseases. Astonishing evils bring with them astonishing results. The grapes of the vineyard of sin produce a wine which fills the most hardened with anguish when justice compels them to quaff the cup. There is a fire-water of anguish of soul which even to the righteous makes a cup of trembling, which causes them to be exceeding sorrowful almost unto death. When grief becomes so habitual as to be our drink, and to take the place of our joys, becoming our only wine, then are we in an evil case indeed. Shushan-eduth: this, like the rest, seems to be the name of an instrument, or song, or tune, then well known, but now quite unknown and forgotten; it may be and is by some rendered, the lily or rose of thy testimony or oracle; but why it was so called is a matter of mere conjecture, and of small importance to us to know. To teach, to wit, in an eminent manner; or for the special instruction of God’s church and people in some points of great moment; as, concerning the grievous calamities to which God’s church and people were obnoxious, Psalm 60:1-3, and concerning the certainty of God’s promises, and of their deliverance out of them, upon condition of their faith and obedience; which doctrines were of great moment, especially to the Israelites, who were, and were likely to be, exercised in the same manner, and with the same variety and vicissitudes of condition, under which their ancestors had been. Or whereas other songs were to be learned only by the Levites, or by some of them, this possibly was one of them, which the people also were to be taught, and were to sing upon occasion, because of the public and general concernment which they all had in the matter herein contained.

Aram-naharaim; or, the Syrians (so called from Aram, the son of Shem, Genesis 10:22) of the two rivers, or of Mesopotamia, the country between those two great and famous rivers, Tigris and Euphrates. Aram-zobah, or, the Syrians of Zobah, part of Syria so called, 2 Samuel 8:5,12.

This report seems not to agree with the histories to which this Psalm is supposed to relate, 2 Samuel 8:13 1 Chronicles 18:12, neither in the persons slain, who are Edomites 1 Chronicles 18:12, but Syrians here, and 2 Samuel 8:13; nor in their numbers, which are here only twelve thousand, and there eighteen thousand; nor in the persons to whom this victory is ascribed, who is Joab here, David 2 Samuel 8:13, and Abishai 1 Chronicles 18:12. But these difficulties may easily be resolved by these considerations:

1. That David being king, and Joab lord-general of all his forces, and Abishai his lieutenant-general as to a considerable part of his army, the same victory may well be ascribed to any or every one of them; as it is usually done in like cases in the Roman and Grecian histories.

2. That the Edomites and Syrians were united in this war.

3. That twelve thousand might be slain in the pitched battle, and the rest by the pursuers in their flight.

4. That these several places may speak of several fights. See more of this business See Poole "2 Samuel 8:13".

The psalmist, complaining of former sad judgments, Psalm 60:1-3, acknowledgeth God’s present mercy, Psalm 60:4. Comforting himself in the promises, he prayeth for help, and therein trusteth, Psalm 60:5-12.

Cast us off; or, rejected or forsaken us, as to thy gracious and powerful presence, not only in the time of the judges, but also during Saul’s reign.

Scattered us, Heb. broken us; partly by that dreadful overthrow by the Philistines, 1 Samuel 31, and partly by the civil war in our own bowels, between me and Ishbosheth.

O God, thou hast cast us off,.... What is said in this verse, and Psalm 60:2, are by some applied to times past; to the distress of the people Israel by their neighbours in the times of the judges; to their being smitten by the Philistines, in the times of Eli and Samuel; and to the victory they obtained over them, when Saul and his sons were slain; and to the civil wars between the house of Saul and David; but rather the whole belongs to future times, which David, by a prophetic spirit, was led to on the occasion of the victory obtained, when before this the nation had been in bad circumstances. This refers to the casting off of the Jews as a church and nation, when they had rejected the Messiah and killed him, persecuted his apostles, and despised his Gospel; of which see Romans 11:15;

thou hast scattered us; as they were by the Romans among the various nations of the world, and among whom they are dispersed to this day; or "thou hast broken us" (k), as in Psalm 80:12; not only the walls of their city were broken by the battering rams of the Romans, but their commonwealth, their civil state, were broke to pieces by them. Jarchi applies this to the Romans; his note is this;

"when Edom fell by his hand (David's), he foresaw, by the Holy Ghost, that the Romans would rule over Israel, and decree hard decrees concerning them;''

thou hast been displeased; not only with their immorality and profaneness, with their hypocrisy and insincerity, with their will worship and superstition, and the observance of the traditions of their elders; but also with their rejection of the Messiah, and contempt of his Gospel and ordinances;

O turn thyself to us again; which prayer will be made by them, when they shall become sensible of their sins, and of their state and condition, and shall turn unto the Lord; and when he will turn himself to them, and turn away iniquity from them, and all Israel shall be saved, Romans 11:25; or "thou wilt return unto us" (l); who before were cast off, broken, and he was displeased with; or others to us.

(k) "rupisti nos", Montanus, Michaelis; "disrupisti", Gejerus; so Ainsworth. (l) "reverteris ad nos", Pagninus, Montanus; "reduces ad nos", Gussetius, p. 836.

<{a} Shushaneduth, Michtam of David, to teach; when he strove with Aramnaharaim and with {b} Aramzobah, when Joab returned, and smote of Edom in the valley of salt twelve thousand.>> O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast {c} scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again.

(a) These were certain songs after the note of which this psalm was sung.

(b) Also called Sophene, which stands by Euphrates.

(c) For when Saul was not able to resist the enemy, the people fled here and there: for they were not safe in their own homes.

1. thou hast cast us off] Cp. Psalm 60:10; Psalm 44:9; Psalm 44:23; Psalm 74:1; Psalm 77:7; Psalm 89:38.

thou hast scattered us] Better as R.V., thou hast broken us down, a word applied to defeat (2 Samuel 5:20), or any great calamity (Jdg 21:15; Job 16:14). It is a metaphor from the destruction of a wall or a building (2 Kings 14:13; Isaiah 5:5).

thou hast been displeased] R.V. rightly, thou hast been angry, as A.V. elsewhere (Psalm 2:12; Psalm 79:5; 1 Kings 8:46; &c.). Israel’s neighbours used exactly the same language. Mesha in the inscription known as the Moabite Stone says that Omri the king of Israel oppressed Moab many days, “because Chemosh was angry with his land” (Psalm 50:5).

O turn thyself to us again] Better, O grant us restoration.

1–4. Grave disasters have befallen Israel through God’s displeasure.

Verse 1. - O God, thou hast east us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased (comp. Psalm 44:9-11). The expressions used imply a signal defeat, which, though not mentioned in the historical books, harmonizes with the account given in 1 Kings of the severe treatment of Edom by Joab. From the fact of the defeat the psalmist infers the ground of it - God's displeasure. O turn thyself to us again; rather, O restore to us (i.e. make restoration to us) again (see the Revised Version). Psalm 60:1This first strophe contains complaint and prayer; and establishes the prayer by the greatness of the need and Israel's relationship to God. The sense in which פּרצתּנוּ is intended becomes clear from 2 Samuel 5:20, where David uses this word of the defeat of the Philistines, and explains it figuratively. The word signifies to break through what has hitherto been a compact mass, to burst, blast, scatter, disperse. The prayer is first of all timidly uttered in תּשׁובב לנוּ in the form of a wish; then in רפה (Psalm 60:4) and הושׁיעה (Psalm 60:7) it waxes more and more eloquent. שׁובב ל here signifies to grant restoration (like הניח ל, to give rest; Psalm 23:3; Isaiah 58:12). The word also signifies to make a turn, to turn one's self away, in which sense, however, it cannot be construed with ל. On פּצמתּהּ Dunash has already compared Arab. fṣm, rumpere, scindere, and Mose ha-Darshan the Targumic פּצּם equals פרע, Jeremiah 22:14. The deep wounds which the Edomites had inflicted upon the country, are after all a wrathful visitation of God Himself - reeling or intoxicating wine, or as יין תּרעלה (not יין), properly conceived of, is: wine which is sheer intoxication (an apposition instead of the genitive attraction, vid., on Isaiah 30:20), is reached out by Him to His people. The figure of the intoxicating cup has passed over from the Psalms of David and of Asaph to the prophets (e.g., Isaiah 51:17, Isaiah 51:21). A kindred thought is expressed in the proverb: Quem Deus perdere vult, eum dementat. All the preterites as far as השׁקיתנוּ (Psalm 60:5) glance back plaintively at that which has been suffered.

But Psalm 60:6 cannot be thus intended; for to explain with Ewald and Hitzig, following the lxx, "Thou hast set up a banner for those who reverence Thee, not for victory, but for flight," is inadmissible, notwithstanding the fact that מפּני קשׁת nuwc is a customary phrase and the inscribed ללמּד is favourable to the mention of the bow. For (1) The words, beginning with נתתּ, do not sound like an utterance of something worthy of complaint - in this case it ought at least to have been expressed by עך להתנוסס (only for flight, not for victory); (2) it is more than improbable that the bow, instead of being called קשׁת (feminine of the Arabic masculine kaus), is here, according to an incorrect Aramaic form of writing, called קשׁט, whereas this word in its primary form קשׁט (Proverbs 22:21) corresponds to the Aramaic קוּשׁטא not in the signification "a bow," but (as it is also intended in the Targum of our passage) in the signification "truth" (Arabic ḳisṭ of strict unswerving justice, root קש, to be hard, strong, firm; just as, vice versa, the word ṣidḳ, coming from a synonymous root, is equivalent to "truth"). We therefore take the perfect predication, like Psalm 60:4, as the foundation of the prayer which follows: Thou hast given those who fear Thee a banner to muster themselves (sich aufpanieren), i.e., to raise themselves as around a standard or like a standard, on account of the truth - help then, in order that Thy beloved ones may be delivered, with Thy right hand, and answer me. This rendering, in accordance with which Psalm 60:6 expresses the good cause of Israel in opposition to its enemies, is also favoured by the heightened effect of the music, which comes in here, as Sela prescribes. The reflexive התנוסס here therefore signifies not, as Hithpal. of נוּס, "to betake one's self to flight," but "to raise one's self" - a signification on behalf of which we cannot appeal to Zechariah 9:16, where מתנוססות is apparently equivalent to מתנוצצות "sparkling," but which here results from the juxtaposition with נס (cf. נסה, Psalm 4:7), inasmuch as נס itself, like Arab. naṣṣun, is so called from נסס, Arab. naṣṣ, to set up, raise, whether it be that the Hithpo. falls back upon the Kal of the verb or that it is intended as a denominative (to raise one's self as a banner, sich aufpanieren).

(Note: This expression wel illustrates the power of the German language in coining words, so that the language critically dealt with may be exactly reproduced to the German mind. The meaning will at once be clear when we inform our readers that Panier is a banner of standard; the reflexive denominative, therefore, in imitation of the Hebrew, sich aufpanieren signifies to "up-standard one's self," to raise one's self up after the manner of a standard, which being "done into English" may mean to rally (as around a standard). We have done our best above faithfully to convey the meaning of the German text, and we leave our readers to infer from this illustration the difficulties with which translators have not unfrequently to contend. - Tr.])

It is undeniable that not merely in later (e.g., Nehemiah 5:15), but also even in older Hebrew, מפּני denotes the reason and motive (e.g., Deuteronomy 28:20). Moreover Psalm 44 is like a commentary on this מפּני קשׁט, in which the consciousness of the people of the covenant revelation briefly and comprehensively expresses itself concerning their vocation in the world. Israel looks upon its battle against the heathen, as now against Edom, as a rising for the truth in accordance with its mission. By reason of the fact and of the consciousness which are expressed in Psalm 60:6, arises the prayer in Psalm 60:7, that Jahve would interpose to help and to rescue His own people from the power of the enemy. ימינך is instrumental (vid., on Psalm 3:5). It is to be read ענני according to the Ker, as in Psalm 108:7, instead of עננוּ; so that here the king of Israel is speaking, who, as he prays, stands in the place of his people.

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