Psalms 60

Psalm 60

Psalm 60. The psalmist grieves over Israel’s humiliation, but in response to God’s assuring word, he asks for divine help in battle and expresses his confidence in victory.

For the music director; according to the shushan-eduth style;
The Hebrew expression means “lily of the testimony.” It may refer to a particular music style or to a tune title.
a prayer
The precise meaning of the Hebrew word מִכְתָּם (miktam), which also appears in the heading to Pss 16, 56–59, is uncertain. HALOT 582-83 s.v. defines it as “inscription.”
of David written to instruct others.
Heb “to teach.”
It was written when he fought against Aram Naharaim and Aram-Zobah. That was when Joab turned back and struck down
In Josh 8:21 and Judg 20:48 the two verbs “turn back” and “strike down” are also juxtaposed. There they refer to a military counter-attack.
12,000 Edomites
Heb “12,000 of Edom.” Perhaps one should read אֲרַם (’aram, “Aram”) here rather than אֱדוֹם (’edom, “Edom”).
in the Valley of Salt.
The heading apparently refers to the military campaign recorded in 2 Sam 10 and 1 Chr 19.

1 O God, you have rejected us.
You have rejected us. See Pss 43:2; 44:9, 23.

You suddenly turned on us in your anger.
Heb “you broke out upon us, you were angry.”

Please restore us!
The imperfect verbal form here expresses the psalmist’s wish or prayer.

2 You made the earth quake; you split it open.
The verb פָּצַם (patsam, “split open”) occurs only here in the OT. An Arabic cognate means “crack,” and an Aramaic cognate is used in Tg. Jer 22:14 with the meaning “break open, frame.” See BDB 822 s.v. and Jastrow 1205 s.v. פְּצַם.
You made the earth quake; you split it open. The psalmist uses the imagery of an earthquake to describe the nation’s defeat.

Repair its breaches, for it is ready to fall.
It is ready to fall. The earth is compared to a wall that has been broken by the force of the earthquake (note the preceding line) and is ready to collapse.

3 You have made your people experience hard times;
Heb “you have caused your people to see [what is] hard.”

you have made us drink intoxicating wine.
Heb “wine of staggering,” that is, intoxicating wine that makes one stagger in drunkenness. Intoxicating wine is here an image of divine judgment that makes its victims stagger like drunkards. See Isa 51:17–23.

4 You have given your loyal followers
Heb “those who fear you.”
a rallying flag,
so that they might seek safety from the bow.
There is a ray of hope in that God has allowed his loyal followers to rally under a battle flag. The translation assumes the verb is from the root נוּס (nus, “flee”) used here in the Hitpolel in the sense of “find safety for oneself” (HALOT 681 s.v. נוס) or “take flight for oneself” (BDB 630-31 s.v. נוּס). Another option is to take the verb as a denominative from נֵס (nes, “flag”) and translate “that it may be displayed” (BDB 651 s.v. II נסס) or “that they may assemble under the banner” (HALOT 704 s.v. II נסס). Here קֹשֶׁט (qoshet) is taken as an Aramaized form of קֶשֶׁת (qeshet, “bow”; BDB 905-6 s.v. קֶשֶׁת), though some understand the homonymic קֹשְׁטְ (qosht, “truth”) here (see Prov 22:21; cf. NASB). If one follows the latter interpretation, the line may be translated, “so that they might assemble under the banner for the sake of truth.”
5 Deliver by your power
Heb “right hand.”
and answer me,
The Qere (marginal reading) has “me,” while the Kethib (consonantal text) has “us.”

so that the ones you love may be safe.
Or “may be rescued.” The lines are actually reversed in the Hebrew text, “So that the ones you love may be rescued, deliver by your power and answer me.”

6 God has spoken in his sanctuary:
Heb “in his holy place.”

“I will triumph! I will parcel out Shechem;
the Valley of Succoth I will measure off.
Shechem stands for the territory west of the Jordan, the Valley of Succoth for the region east of the Jordan.

7 Gilead belongs to me,
as does Manasseh!
Gilead was located east of the Jordan. Half of the tribe of Manasseh lived east of the Jordan in the region of Bashan.

Ephraim is my helmet,
Heb “the protection of my head.”
Ephraim, named after one of Joseph’s sons, was one of two major tribes located west of the Jordan. By comparing Ephraim to a helmet, the Lord suggests that the Ephraimites played a primary role in the defense of his land.

Judah my royal scepter.
Judah, like Ephraim, was the other major tribe west of the Jordan. The Davidic king, symbolized here by the royal scepter, came from this tribe.

8 Moab is my washbasin.
The metaphor of the washbasin, used to rinse one’s hands and feet, suggests that Moab, in contrast to Israel’s elevated position (vv. 6–7), would be reduced to the status of a servant.

I will make Edom serve me.
Heb “over Edom I will throw my sandal.” The point of the metaphor is not entirely clear. Some interpret this as idiomatic for “taking possession of,” i.e., “I will take possession of Edom.” Others translate עַל (’al) as “to” and understand this as referring to a master throwing his dirty sandal to a servant so that the latter might dust it off.

I will shout in triumph over Philistia.”
Heb “over me, O Philistia, shout in triumph.” The translation follows the text of Ps 108:9. When the initial עֲלֵיוֹ (’aleyo, “over”) was misread as עָלַי (’alay, “over me”), the first person verb form was probably altered to an imperative to provide better sense to the line.

9 Who will lead me into the fortified city?
Who will bring me to Edom?
In v. 9 the psalmist speaks again and acknowledges his need for help in battle. He hopes God will volunteer, based on the affirmation of sovereignty over Edom in v. 8, but he is also aware that God has seemingly rejected the nation (v. 10, see also v. 1).

10 Have you not rejected us, O God?
O God, you do not go into battle with our armies.
11 Give us help against the enemy,
for any help men might offer is futile.
Heb “and futile [is] the deliverance of man.”

By God’s power we will conquer;
Heb “in God we will accomplish strength.” The statement refers here to military success (see Num 24:18; 1 Sam 14:48; Pss 108:13; 118:15–16).

he will trample down
Trample down. On this expression see Ps 44:5.
our enemies.

Psalm 61

Psalm 61. The psalmist cries out for help and expresses his confidence that God will protect him.

For the music director; to be played on a stringed instrument; written by David.

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