A Psalm a Day: Psalm 60

posted in: Personal, Prayer, Psalms, Reading | 0

Throughout September 2022, I managed to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. For December 2022, attempted to pick up the discipline. I got part-way through that month, and so after a long hiatus, am determined to get going. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:

  • What is this Psalm about?
  • What does this Psalm teach about God?
  • How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?

I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.

psalm 60

On the 18th of October, here’s Psalm 60:

You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us;
    you have been angry—now restore us!
You have shaken the land and torn it open;
    mend its fractures, for it is quaking.
You have shown your people desperate times;
    you have given us wine that makes us stagger.
But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner
    to be unfurled against the bow.

Save us and help us with your right hand,
    that those you love may be delivered.
God has spoken from his sanctuary:
    “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem
    and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth.
Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine;
    Ephraim is my helmet,
    Judah is my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin,
    on Edom I toss my sandal;
    over Philistia I shout in triumph.”

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.

What is this Psalm about?

Psalm 60 is a complex Psalm – mixing lament and hope, questions and certainty. It contains explicit speech from God (v6-8) about real places in this real world, and is a Psalm with a variety of things to teach us about God.

What does this Psalm teach about God?

In the first verse Psalm 60 teaches that we can be rejected by God – and the following verses demonstrate God’s power over land and people. Verse five provides a counterpoint to the more negative emotions of anger and so on – God is appealed to as one who saves and helps and delivers the people who He loves (with the logical corollary that He doesn’t for those He does not love). Verse 6 provides the wonderful truth that God speaks – and the fascinating truth that this is ‘from his sanctuary’. It is notable that there is both geographical resonance with the real world, and anthropomorphic imagery, about God. The closing verses, I think, rehearse similar themes to the opening verses. It appears to me that an important focus of Psalm 60 is the idea of God’s speech and how it is integral to reality.

How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?

Psalm 60 offers, I think, three things for God’s people today. Firstly, it is a reminder that God speaks – and one of the hallmarks of God’s speech is that it is connected to reality, rather than disconnected. This can offer deep reassurance in a strange world. Second, there is the challenge that God has been (And so may yet be) angry with His people, rejecting them and subjecting them to things. We should not presume upon God’s grace. Thirdly, and with the other two in mind, we can call confidently on God to ‘Give us aid against the enemy’ (v11), because ‘With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies’ (v12).

A prayer drawn from Psalm 

Lord, thank you that you speak, and that you tell us what you think about us. Help us to turn ever to you humbly, confidently approaching your sanctuary. Give us aid against the enemy – help us not to trust in worthless human help. In you and with you we will have the victory. Amen.

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