Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.
For vain is the help of man - Margin, salvation. The idea is, that they would look in vain to man to assist them in their present difficulties. They must depend on God alone. What is here said of temporal troubles is true as absolutely in the matter of salvation. When we are burdened with the consciousness of guilt, and trembling under the apprehension of the wrath to come, it is not man that can aid us. Our help is in God alone. Man can neither guide, comfort, pardon, nor save; and in vain should we look to any man, or to all people, for aid. We must look to God alone: to God as the only one who can remove guilt from the soul; who can give peace to the troubled heart; who can deliver us - from condemnation and ruin.
12 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.
"Give us help from trouble." Help us to overcome the disasters of civil strife and foreign invasion; save us from further incursions from without and division within. Do thou, O Lord, work this deliverance, "lot Vain is the help of man." We have painfully learned the utter impotence of armies, kings, and nations without thine help. Our banners trailed in the mire have proven our weakness without thee, but yonder standard borne aloft before us shall witness to our valour now that thou hast come to our rescue. How sweetly will this verse suit the tried people of God as a frequent ejaculation. We know how true it is.
"Through God we shall do valiantly." From God all power proceeds, and all we do well is done by divine operation; but still we, as soldiers of the great king, are to fight, and to fight valiantly too. Divine working is not an argument for human inaction, but rather is it the best excitement for courageous effort, Helped in the past, we shall also be helped in the future, and being assured of this we resolve to play the man. "For he it is that shall tread down our enemies." From him shall the might proceed, to him shall the honour be given. Like straw on the thrashing-floor beneath the feet of the oxen shall we tread upon our abject foes, but it shall rather be his foot which presses them down than ours; his hand shall go out against them so as to put them down and keep them in subjection. In the case of Christians there is much encouragement for a resolve similar to that of the first clause. "We shall do valiantly." We will not be ashamed of our colours, afraid of our foes, or fearful of our cause. The Lord is with us, omnipotence sustains us, and we will not hesitate, we dare not be cowards. O that our King, the true David, were come to claim the earth, for the kingdom is the Lord's, and he is the governor among the nations.Jeremiah 30:7. This will be the time of the slaying of the witnesses, the hour of temptation, that will try the inhabitants of the Christian world; and when the saints, as they do in all their times of trouble, will seek to the Lord for help, in whom it is, and who has promised it, and gives it seasonably, and which is owing wholly to his own grace and goodness; and therefore it is asked that he would "give" it;
for vain is the help of man: or "the salvation of man" (w); man himself is a vain thing; vanity itself, yea, lighter than vanity; even man at his best state, and the greatest among men; and therefore it is a vain thing to expect help and salvation from men, for indeed there is none in them; only in the Lord God is the salvation of his people, both temporal and spiritual.Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. Give us help from trouble] Or, as R.V., Give us help against the adversary. Cp. Psalm 60:12.
for vain is the help of man] Lit. salvation. It is a delusion (cp. Psalm 33:17) to look to human strength for victory. See Psalm 44:6-7; 1 Samuel 17:47; Jeremiah 17:5; and cp. Jdg 7:4; Jdg 7:7; 1 Samuel 14:6; 2 Chronicles 14:11; 1Ma 3:16 ff.Verse 11. - Give us help from trouble. Faith combats doubt, and, overcoming it, finds an utterance - "Give us help now, whatever thou hast done in the past." Our trouble is great. "Help us from it." For vain is the help of man. We have, therefore, no hope but in thee. 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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