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Psalm 60



Lament Over Defeat in Battle, and Prayer for Help
MT Intro
For the choir director; according to Sushan Eduth. Mikhtam of David, to teach; when he struggled with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and Joab returned, and smote twelve thousand of Edom in the Valley of Salt.
Urgent Prayer for the Restored Favor of God Prayer for Deliverance From National Enemies A Prayer for Deliverance National Prayer After Defeat
60:1-5 60:1-3 60:1-3 60:1-5 60:1-2
  60:4-5 60:4-5    
60:6-8 60:6-8 60:6-8 60:6-8 60:6
60:9-12 60:9-12 60:9-12 60:9-12 60:9-10

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



 1O God, You have rejected us. You have broken us;
 You have been angry; O, restore us.
 2You have made the land quake, You have split it open;
 Heal its breaches, for it totters.
 3You have made Your people experience hardship;
 You have given us wine to drink that makes us stagger.
 4You have given a banner to those who fear You,
 That it may be displayed because of the truth.  Selah.
 5That Your beloved may be delivered,
 Save with Your right hand, and answer us!

60:1-3 This strophe describes how the psalmist perceives his/Israel's relationship with YHWH.

1. He has rejected us — BDB 276, KB 276, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 44:9,23; 74:1; 77:7; 108:11

2. He has broken us — BDB 829, KB 971, Qal perfect, possibly related to a breach in a defensive wall

3. He has been angry — BDB 60, KB 72, Qal perfect

4. He has made their land quake — BDB 950, KB 1271, Hiphil perfect

5. He has made the land split open — BDB 822, KB 954, Qal perfect, rare word, only here and a related form in Jer. 22:14, where it is translated "cut out"

6. He made His people experience hardship — BDB 906, KB 1157, Hiphil perfect

7. He gave them wine to drink (i.e., cause drunkenness and staggering) — BDB 1052, KB 1639, Hiphil perfect, the cup might be for the nations (cf. Jer. 25:16-26), is now given to the covenant people with the same effect (cf. Isa. 51:17,22)

Notice that all the verbs are perfects, which denotes a settled condition. In light of this the psalmist prays that God will

1. restore us — BDB 996, KB 1427, Polel imperfect, cf. Ps. 80:3,7,19; 85:4; 126:1; Lam. 5:21

2. heal (i.e., "restore," NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 1163) the land — BDB 950, KB 1272, Qal imperative, cf. 2 Chr. 7:14; this may refer to the breach in the wall of Ps. 60:1b

It must be stated that all of these prayer requests for God's help, protection, deliverance are based on His people's faith and lifestyle (cf. 2 Chr. 6:37-39). All God's promises (except for the ones connected to Messiah and His ministry) are conditional (see Special Topic at Ps. 25:10).


60:1 The rejection by God (cf. Ps. 60:1,10) of His people (cf. Ps. 60:3,5) is shocking! We must remember that God had a purpose for Israel. She was to be a mechanism for the worldwide revelation of God's character and purposes (see Special Topic at Psalm 2 Intro., cf. Ezek. 36:22-38). This demanded faithful covenant obedience (cf. 1 Chr. 28:9). Because of the Fall of Genesis 3 they could not; judgment was the only option (cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-30).  

The phrase "in His holiness" in verse 6 is a powerful reminder of the character of God that He wants His people to emulate and model for the nations (see SPECIAL TOPIC: CHARACTERISTICS OF ISRAEL'S GOD at Ps. 9:10b).

A new approach was necessary. This new approach is called "the new covenant" (cf. Jer. 31:31-34), which the NT clarifies as the gospel of Jesus Christ.

60:4-5 To me this should be a separate strophe (cf. NKJV, NRSV). The subject changes from verses 1-3. This strophe describes YHWH's actions on behalf of Israel.

1. He has given those who revere Him a banner (BDB 651, i.e., a visible sign or way to communicate, cf. Exod. 17:15; Isa. 5:26; 11:12; 13:2; Ps. 20:5); this could be a negative (i.e., flee) or positive (i.e., rally to) expression.

2. He wants it displayed to communicate Himself (i.e., the truth; the Hebrew consonants קשׁט can mean "of the bow" or "truth," BDB 905; UBS Text Project support "of the bow" with a "B" rating (some doubt); the NRSV, NJB, NET Bible; REB support this choice but NKJV and JPSOA have "truth." The word for "bow" has an added vowel only here.

The point seems to be that YHWH is providing some support to Israel by His presence with them in battle.

60:4 "Selah" See note at Ps. 3:2 and Intro. to Psalms, VII.

60:5 "Your beloved" This adjective (BDB 391) is used of the lover in Song of Songs (cf. Song of Songs 1:2,4; 4:10; 5:1; 7:13). Here it is used of YHWH's covenant people (cf. Jer. 12:7). It is a strong, passionate description.

This verse has two prayer requests based on 60:4.

1. save us (MT; Qere "me") — BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative, i.e., by Your actions, cf. Ps. 3:7; 20:9

2. answer us (MT, Qere "me") — BDB 772, KB 851, Qal imperative

The UBS Text Project (p. 277) gives the MT's "us" a "C" rating (considerable doubt). The plural is in verses 10 and 11.

▣ "Your right hand" This is a Hebrew idiom of power and effective action (cf. Exod. 15:6; Ps. 17:7; 44:3; 98:1; 108:6; 138:7; 139:10, see Special Topic at Ps. 7:3-4).

 6God has spoken in His holiness:
 "I will exult, I will portion out Shechem and measure out the valley of Succoth.
 7"Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine;
 Ephraim also is the helmet of My head;
 Judah is My scepter.
 8"Moab is My washbowl;
 Over Edom I shall throw My shoe;
 Shout loud, O Philistia, because of Me!"

60:6-8 This strophe extols YHWH's sovereignty (or "holiness," BDB 871) over the nations (cf. Deut. 32:8). These verses are repeated in Ps. 108:7-14, which means it may have been part of liturgy. It may be connected to Exod. 15:14-17. YHWH Himself speaks (i.e., "God has spoken" — BDB 180, KB 210, Piel perfect).

1. I will exult — BDB 759, KB 831, Qal cohortative

2. I will portion out — BDB 323, KB 322, Piel cohortative

3. I will measure out — BDB 551, KB 547, Piel imperfect used in a cohortative sense

4-5. " is mine"

6. "  is the helmet of My head"

7. " is My scepter"

8. "over I shall throw my shoe" (i.e., an idiom of contempt)

9. " shout loud, because of Me" (possible should be, "over Philistia I will shoul aloud," like Ps. 108:9c)

Notice the place names are all in the tribal allocations of Joshua.

1. one city — Shechem

2. one valley — valley of Succoth

3. one area — Gilead

4. three tribes — Manasseh, Ephraim, Judah (for Judah as scepter see Gen. 49:10)

5. three defeated Canaanite nations — Moab, Edom, Philistia


 9Who will bring me into the besieged city?
 Who will lead me to Edom?
 10Have not You Yourself, O God, rejected us?
 And will You not go forth with our armies, O God?
 11O give us help against the adversary,
 For deliverance by man is in vain.
 12Through God we shall do valiantly,
 And it is He who will tread down our adversaries.

60:9-12 This strophe speaks of the impossibility of military victories without YHWH's help and presence (i.e., Holy War).

1. verse 9 asks the military question

2. verse 10 asserts the spiritual reality (i.e., Holy War) that unless YHWH goes before Israel's army, no victory is possible, cf. Ps. 44:9; 108:11

3. verse 11 asserts the physical reality that military victory by humans is vain and fleeting

4. verse 12 asserts that only with YHWH can there be victory, cf. Deut. 20:1; 1 Sam.17:45,47; Ps. 20:7; 22:16-17; 44:1-3,5-7; 146:3; Zech. 4:6). This is referring to the victory of God's purposes in Israel as a light to the nations, not just a conqueror.

The whole point of these assertions is the question of verse 10, "Have You, Yourself, O God, rejected us?" Unless He gives help there is no hope (Ps. 60:11b). If He does, there will be victory (Ps. 60:12), both for God's purpose (see Special Topic at Intro. to Psalm 2) and Israel's security and peace.


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Read the Psalm and try to divide it into subjects, topics. Do you think Ps. 60:1-3 and Ps. 60:4-5 are separate topics?

2. What is the theological purpose of Ps. 60:6-8? Why is it repeated in Psalm 108?

3. Verse 8 has several negative images. Explain them

4. What is the main theological truth of verses 9-12?


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