THE BATTLE BELONGS TO GOD
Lord, do not cast off Your people in Your anger.
Read PSALM 60
For the director of music. To the tune of “The Lily of the Covenant.” A miktam[b] of David. For teaching. When he fought Aram Naharaim[c] and Aram Zobah,[d] and when Joab returned and struck down twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.
1 You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us;
you have been angry—now restore us!
2 You have shaken the land and torn it open;
mend its fractures, for it is quaking.
3 You have shown your people desperate times;
you have given us wine that makes us stagger.
4 But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner
to be unfurled against the bow.[e]
5 Save us and help us with your right hand,
that those you love may be delivered.
6 God has spoken from his sanctuary:
“In triumph I will parcel out Shechem
and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth.
7 Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet,
Judah is my scepter.
8 Moab is my washbasin,
on Edom I toss my sandal;
over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
9 Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
10 Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us
and no longer go out with our armies?
11 Give us aid against the enemy,
for human help is worthless.
12 With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies.
a Psalm 60:1 In Hebrew texts 60:1-12 is numbered 60:3-14.
b Psalm 60:1 Title: Probably a literary or musical term
c Psalm 60:1 Title: That is, Arameans of Northwest Mesopotamia
d Psalm 60:1 Title: That is, Arameans of central Syria
e Psalm 60:4 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8,9).
The psalm’s opening is explosive! God’s anger has “burst upon” his people (1), his judgment has “shaken” the land (2)—and earthquakes are frequently an image of God’s judgment (Rev. 6:12; 11:19; 16:18). “Wine” (3) is also linked to divine wrath (Isa. 51:17–23), leaving people reeling in confusion and distress. These are indeed “desperate times” (3). Despite David’s military successes, the enemy—probably Edom (9)—has successfully regrouped and retaliated. The real tragedy, however, is that God has “rejected” (1,10) his people.
The tone of David’s cry is not one of despair, but hope. “But” (4), as so often in Scripture, injects hope. God’s rejection is not final; he has not repudiated his covenant with those he loves (5). Paul affirms, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). God himself provides a way for healing and restoring the “fractured” relationship by raising “a banner” (2,4)—an image that recalls Israel’s very first battle, at Rephidim: Joshua led the army, but the battle was won by the power of God to whom Moses lifted his hands in prayer (Exod. 17:8–15). Then Moses built an altar, naming it “The Lord Is My Banner” because “hands were lifted up against [to] the throne of the Lord” (Exod. 17:15,16).
Deuteronomy majors on remembering. In prayer we remember certain timeless, life-transforming truths. The chaos prevailing on the ground notwithstanding, everything and everyone labors under God’s sovereign rule (6–8). Earthly rulers may sit shakily upon their thrones, but God speaks authoritatively from “his sanctuary” (6). God remains in absolute, unqualified, ultimate control. You and I are engaged in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10–20). This war can be won only by God’s power—and we tap into that power through prayer.
Do you “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests”? Do you “keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Eph. 6:18)?
Lord, we rejoice that we are able to deploy the very power of the Almighty through prayer, and as the psalmist says, through our God we shall do valiantly.
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