Prayer To End Wars
1 For the director.[b] According to “The Lily of. . . .” A miktam of David (for teaching), 2 when he fought against Aram-naharaim and Aram-zobah; and when Joab, coming back, slew twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.
3 O God, you have turned away from us
and left us defenseless.
Although your anger was aroused,
now come to our aid.
4 You shook the earth[c] and split it apart;
repair its cracks, for it continues to shake.
5 You have inflicted hardships on your people;
you have given us wine that made us stagger.[d]
6 But for those who fear you,
you have raised up a banner
to unfurl against the bow.[e] Selah
7 [f]With your right hand come to our aid and answer us
so that those you love may be delivered.
8 [g]God has promised from his sanctuary,
“In triumph I will apportion Shechem
and measure out the Valley of Succoth.
9 Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet,[h]
Judah is my scepter.
10 Moab is my washbasin;[i]
upon Edom I will plant my sandal;
over Philistia I will shout in triumph.”
11 [j]Who will lead me into the fortified city?[k]
Who will guide me into Edom?
12 Is it not you, O God, who have rejected us
and no longer go forth with our armies?
13 Grant us your help against our enemies,
for any human assistance is worthless.
14 With God’s help we will be victorious,
for he will overwhelm our foes.
- Psalm 60:1 God responds to the supplication of the nation of Israel, which is suffering because it has neglected the covenant. The cry of a holy war sounds forth. God mobilizes Israel from one end to the other (vv. 8-9) to wreak judgment on enemy territory—one feels as if carried back to the time of the Exodus and the conquest of Canaan. After the Exile, this psalm could have been chanted during a penitential liturgy. Verses 7-14 are also found in Ps 108 as verses 7-14.
The military casualties and temporal disasters of ancient Israel typify the spiritual disasters that the Church, the new Israel, sometimes suffers. In union with Christ, her risen Head, the Church directs this supplication to the Father in critical moments of her history.
- Psalm 60:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation. According to “The Lily of . . .”: its meaning is unknown. Miktam: see note on Ps 16:1. The superscription refers to events that are found in 2 Sam 8:1; 1 Chr 18. However, the accounts make no mention of Edom or of the fact that David’s forces met stiff resistance (vv. 3-5) and even a temporary defeat (v. 11f). The Valley of Salt is unknown (see 2 Sam 8:13).
- Psalm 60:4 Shook the earth: the defeat is likened to an earthquake, which is an apocalyptic characteristic (see Isa 24:20).
- Psalm 60:5 Wine that made us stagger: God has given them drink from the cup of the divine wrath (see Ps 75:9; Isa 51:17, 22; Jer 25:15) rather than the cup of the divine blessings (see Pss 16:5, including note; 23:5; 116:13).
- Psalm 60:6 Bow: symbol of the enemy, which relied on its bows.
- Psalm 60:7 These verses occur again as verses 7-14 of Ps 108.
- Psalm 60:8 The Lord gives his people an oracle of hope, reminding them of his promises that the earth is his and no enemy can stand against him. Shechem was west of the Jordan, and Succoth east of it; therefore, they indicated dominion over all of Palestine. Next are named four Israelite tribes; hence, there are three regions in all that must be reduced to subjection.
- Psalm 60:9 Helmet: a symbol of the strength exhibited by the tribe of Ephraim (see Deut 33:17; Jdg 7:24—8:3). Scepter: a symbol of the King-Messiah who had been promised from Judah (see Gen 49:10).
- Psalm 60:10 Moab is my washbasin: i.e., its people will do menial work for the Israelites (see Gen 18:4). Plant my sandal: an Eastern way of signifying possession.
- Psalm 60:11 The psalmist asks the Lord to lead him to victory even though the pain of defeat and God’s apparent rejection are still with him. For he knows that the Lord remains with his people and will ensure a joyous and victorious outcome (see Pss 44:6; 118:15f).
- Psalm 60:11 Fortified city: doubtless Bozrah in Idumea (see Isa 34:6; 63:1; Am 1:12). It was from this inaccessible refuge that the Edomites sent incursions into Judea.