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Acknowledgment is first made by the Psalmist, or rather by the people in whose name he speaks, of the deliverance already imparted: the Lord has visited his people with severe sufferings, but he who has sent has again removed them, and that because he is faithful and true, ( Psalms 60:1-4). May God continue to impart deliverance: the Psalmist grounds this prayer on the sure foundation of the word and promise of God, by which Israel is assured of continued possession of his land, and of victory over the neighbouring nations ( Psalms 60:5-8). In looking back upon this promise, the Psalmist expresses his confidence, that the expedition against Edom, on which, at the time, he was setting out, would be crowned with success, ( Psalms 60:9-12).
The Psalm consists of twelve verses, and is divided into three strophes, each containing four verses, and the first ending with Selah. If the title be added, the number of verses is fourteen. That this number was designed by the author is evident from the circumstance that in Psalms 108, where the title is wanting, the text contains two verses more. This circumstance is worth being attended to. It shows that in other passages also we are warranted in bringing the titles, with all their contents, into the domain of the formal arrangement of the Psalms. In this case it furnishes a proof of the originality of the titles generally.
It is evident from the title, “On the Lily of Testimony,” that the second strophe forms the heart of the Psalm, pointing as it does to the word and the promise of God as the sure pledge of deliverance. This is evident also from a consideration of the Psalm itself. That the first strophe is intended to quicken faith in the reality of this promise, inasmuch as it points to those events in which it has been already fulfilled, is evident from the expressive clause, “because of thy truth,” with which it closes. The third strophe is in reality connected with the second by a therefore.
The perpetual subject of the Psalm is: that the church of God ought to be always patient in trouble, and joyful in hope, inasmuch as she contains securely within herself those noble promises by which her God secures, in presence of a hostile world, the maintenance of her position and her final victory over every enemy. Under the New Testament this ground of support has not lost, it has gained in point of significance. For the promises of the Old Testament have passed on, in all their completeness, to the New, and in addition to these there are others peculiar to itself, which are nobler still.
The title runs: To the Chief Musician, on the lily of testimony, a Secret of David, to teach. Ver. 2. When he had conquered Aram of the two floods, and Aram Zobah, and Joab had returned and had slain Edom in the Valley of Salt, twelve thousand men of them. The term עדות , properly testimony, has only one sense, that of the law, which gets this name, because it bears testimony against evil-doers. Compare at Psalms 19:7. The sense, assumed by many, as next to this, namely, that of revelation, is to be rejected, because it is only founded on the passage before us, and on the title of Psalms 80. The titles, from their dark and enigmatical character, are not proper passages for ascertaining new senses of words: at least, whatever may be done elsewhere, the sense which is most certainly established, must be adopted in them. Generally עדות refers to the law of God as existing in the books of Moses, which are simpliciter termed עדות : comp. 2 Kings 11:12. The lily generally denotes something lovely; compare at Psalms 45:1, “The Lily of the Testimony” is therefore “something lovely contained in the law.” Hence a lovely promise is introduced in the second strophe, which, as we have already said, is to be considered as the kernel or middle point of the whole Psalm. On מכתם , a secret, compare at the title of Psalms 16. The expression, “to teach,” intimating that it was intended to be taught to the people, points to the public and national character of the Psalm, and stands in singular accordance with the fact, that it is not the Psalmist, but the people, who speak throughout. It refers also to Deuteronomy 31:19, “and now therefore write ye this song, and teach it to the children of Israel, and put it in their mouths.”
The sketch of the historical circumstances, by which the Psalm was called forth, shows that it moves within the same domain as Psalms 44; and we would simply refer to the introduction to that Psalm. We would only remark, that from an oversight we did not then correctly state the relation in which the two Psalms stand to each other. Psalms 44 is the earlier of the two: the sons of Korah sang in the midst of misery, probably whilst David was absent at the Euphrates; David followed them after succour had been in some measure obtained. The character of the two Psalms is in remarkable accordance with the titles, which ascribe them, though composed at the same time, to different authors. “The liveliness of our Psalm, its rapid transitions, ( Psalms 60:6-8,) its brief yet comprehensive language, prevent us,” observes Hitzig, “from entertaining, for one moment, the idea that its authorship is the same as that of Psalms 44.”
Expositors generally translate, when he made war; but it ought rather to be translated, when he had overthrown or conquered;—literally, when he had beat down or pulled down: (נצה is used in Kal in the sense of beat down or pulled down, in Jeremiah 4:7, and also in Niphal.) For Joab, the commander in chief of the main army, which took the field against the Syrians, could not return till after the full victory had been gained over the Syrians. According to 2 Samuel 8:13, the expedition against Edom followed immediately after the termination of the war with the Syrians, and it was not a detached division of the army that went against them, but the main body, which had engaged in the campaign against the Syrians; finally, it is not with the Idumeans, but with the much more terrible Syrians, that the Psalmist has to do,—it is to the victory over them that he refers when he speaks, in the first strophe, of a salvation which the Lord had already wrought out for him.
Aram of the two rivers is not spoken of in the narrative of this war in 2 Samuel 8 but only Aram of Zobah. We learn, however, from the account of David’s second Syrian expedition, (2 Samuel 10) that David, when he had to do with Aram of Zobah, had also necessarily to do with the Mesopotamians, inasmuch as the king of Zobah, whose situation cannot be very exactly fixed, but is generally supposed to lie between the Euphrates and the Orontes, towards the north-east of Damascus, held the kings of Mesopotamia in a state of vassalage. We read, 2 Samuel 10:16: “And Hadadeser (the king of Zobah) sent and brought out Aram, which is beyond the river, and their Lord came, and Shoback, the captain of the host of Hadadeser was at their head: 2 Samuel 10:19, and all the kings who were servants to Hadadeser saw that they were smitten before Israel, and served them.” That the kings of Mesopotamia were not allies but vassals of Hadadeser, is evident from the term, “the servants of Hadadeser,’’ from the circumstance that his commander in chief commanded their army, and from the expression, “he drew out.” This name of Mesopotamia, occurring in the title, furnishes a strong presumption in favour of its originality. For it is exceedingly improbable that any composer of later date would have obtained from the incidental and obscure notices of 2 Samuel 10 knowledge of a state of matters, which, as appears from 2 Samuel 10:19, ceased to exist even under David.
In reference to the valley of Salt, Robinson remarks, (P. III. p. 25): “This valley can be nothing else than the district adjoining the Salt-Mountain, to the south of the Dead Sea, which in reality formed the boundary between the ancient territories of Judah and Edom.” The victory over Edom is here attributed to Joab, but in 2 Samuel 8:13, David himself is mentioned as the conqueror over Edom, while in 1 Chronicles 18:12, it is said to have been Abishai, the brother of Joab. We might suppose a contradiction to be here, were it not that the historical books give us nothing else than a short notice of the whole transaction. The most exact account is that of Chronicles. 2 Samuel 10:10, where Abishai holds an important office under his brother Joab, confirms this. It was Abishai who smote the Edomites; but it was also Joab, for he was commander in chief of the whole forces. In like manner it was also David: we read in Chronicles, no less than in the books of Samuel, “and the Lord helped David in all his undertakings.” [Note: Michaelis is short and good: “David, as king, Joab as commander in chief, and Abishai, as sent by his brother on this particular expedition, defeated the enemy.” ] Instead of 12000, we have 18000 in Samuel and in Chronicles:—a difference which may be explained either from the different methods of reckoning, or by the supposition that all such estimates of numbers are given at random. Both deviations furnish a strong presumption in favour of the originality of the title: one of later date would have contained the facts exactly as given in the historical records.
The title contains within itself very important proof of its originality; and this proof is confirmed by the contents of the Psalm. This confirmation has in it all the greater weight, that the contents are not of such a kind as naturally to have suggested the circumstances noticed in the title. And this circumstance shows the mistake of those who deprive themselves of the aid which the titles supply. The warlike confident tone, the triumphant contempt of the enemy expressed at Psalms 60:8, point to a time of highest prosperity in the state. And, in particular, the reign of David is indicated by the circumstances, that the three hostile neighbouring nations, spoken of in this verse, were all signally defeated by David, and that in Psalms 60:6 and Psalms 60:7, the countries on both sides of Jordan, and also Ephraim and Judah, appear as united in one kingdom, of which kingdom Judah was the head—a state of matters which ceased to exist immediately after Solomon, and to whose time it is impossible to refer the Psalm, on account of the prevailing warlike character by which it is distinguished. Finally, it is evident from Psalms 60:9-12, that the Psalm was composed in view of an expedition against Edom. The exact date of the composition of the Psalm may be determined from comparing this verse with the title,—viz. after the victory over Edom in the valley of Salt, and before the actual occupation of the country.
From this induction of particulars we might have expected a perfect agreement as to the occasion on which the Psalm was composed. Such, however, has been the passion for scepticism and arbitrary interpretation, that even here a monument in its favour must be erected. It is on utterly untenable grounds that the title has been explained as unsuitable. The assertion that the kingdom under David never was in such a shattered state as is described in Psalms 60:1-3, is refuted by the (Psalms 44) 44th Psalm. The other objection, viz, that there is a hope expressed in Psalms 60:6 and Psalms 60:7, of conquering the whole of Palestine, of which David had long before that time been in entire possession, depends upon a false exposition, as is abundantly evident from the triumphant and confident character of the Psalm, and also from the fact that it is the safe possession of his own land that forms the basis of the immediately designed expedition against Edom.
The complete worthlessness of those attempts which have been recently made to define positively the occasion on which the Psalm was composed, as different from that pointed out in the title, may be easily seen. Thus the idea of Koester and Maurer, that the Psalm was composed in exile, or immediately after the return from exile, is put to shame even in Psalms 60:10; and Hitzig’s assertion, that it was composed in the time of the Maccabees, which is founded on a false translation of Psalms 60:4, is rebutted by Psalms 60:7: Ephraim is the strength of mine head. Really it is not worth our trouble to go farther into such arbitrary notions.
The first strophe is Psalms 60:1-4: The Lord has sorely tried his people, but he has now gloriously vindicated his truth and his faithfulness to his promises, by repairing their loss.
Ver. 1. O God, thou, who didst cast us of, and break us, wast angry; now thou comfortest again. Ver. 2. Thou didst make the earth to tremble and to rend, heal its breaches for it shakes. Ver. 3. Thou didst shew thy people hard things, thou didst make us drink intoxicating wine. Ver. 4. Thou hast given those who fear thee a banner to lift up because of the truth.
It appears probable, from Psalms 60:10, that זחתנו and פרצתנו belong to a relative clause: and this is rendered more evident by the term of the last clause, evidently in opposition, תשובב , which has to do only with, “thou hast been angry.” The clause, which precedes this one, points out in what way God has shown his anger. On זנחתנו comp. Psalms 43:2, Psalms 44:9. The פרץ is like פרץ פרץ , with ב : comp. 2 Samuel 5:20, which passage is the more remarkable in as much as it shows, when compared with 6:8, that פרץ , in the sense in which it is used here, is really a Davidic expression: to break a wall or a besieged city, (under which image Israel is spoken of here as in Judges 21:15: compare Job 16:14, Job 30:14), that is, to make a breach. It is obvious, on comparing Psalms 44 that these words, and also Psalms 60:2 and Psalms 60:3, refer to the severe losses which Israel had formerly sustained in the war against the Syrians, and especially through the irruption of the Edomites. The reference is entirely directed to the miserable condition of the people in the last days of Saul. The context, which follows, slims that תשובב is not to be taken in the sense of a wish or a prayer, but is the present tense. Psalms 60:2-3 are an expansion of thou wast angry, and in Psalms 60:4, תשובב is expanded and shown to indicate that God now, by a return of prosperity, had gladdened the hearts of his people. The use of the present tense shows, in unison with the title, that the season of prosperity had just now commenced. “Thou causest to return to us” is obviously to be supplemented by “that of which in anger thou didst deprive us, our former safety.”
The figure of Psalms 60:2 is, that of violent earthquakes which rend the earth. The Psalmist compares the former miserable condition of the kingdom to the earth when thus rent and divided. “Thou hast made the earth to tremble and to rend,” i.e. “in our case.” As the salvation had already succeeded, (compare the title, “thou causest to return to us” in Psalms 60:1, and Psalms 60:4,) we are to understand “heal its breaches” as spoken under a realizing sense of the past misery, and, as it was, from that condition,—“heal, we said, its breaches.” Comp Psalms 30:9-10.
Intoxicating wine in Psalms 60:3, is wine which is followed by intoxication, wine mixed with roots which increase its strength: comp. Psalms 75:8. The two nouns stand next each other in the status abs. This construction, which occurs frequently in other passages, (comp. Ewald’s Large Grammar, p. 627, Small Gr. p. 515,) is similar to one in the German language, in which the case-termination, indicating the relation in which the one noun stands to the other, is frequently omitted, as, for example, taumelwein not taumelswein. The sending of divine judgment is frequently represented by the figure of presenting such wine. The passage before us is the fundamental one; Psalms 75 and Isaiah 51:17, Isaiah 51:22, (to which last Jeremiah 25:15, Jeremiah 49:12, allude,) refer to it. Compare Kueper, Jeremiah, p. 139. It is not the effect of suffering in the mind that is depicted by this figure, the despair, or the terror: the point of comparison is the helplessness and misery of the condition; drunkenness is a state of entire prostration of bodily strength. Compare Isaiah 51:18, Isaiah 51:20.
We have already observed that Psalms 60:4 is related to Psalms 60:2, and to Psalms 60:3, exactly in the same way as in Psalms 60:1 תשובב is related to what precedes. The Psalmist had thought upon the depth of the misery, only because this brought the delivering grace of God more prominently into view. That the verse before us is to be understood in this way, is rendered probable by a comparison of Psalms 108. There also the first part, which is different from the first part here, contains an ascription of praise to God for a favour which had been already granted. On this there follows, in close connection with the second part here, and with only a few alterations, the prayer for further grace. The Psalmist compares the salvation which the Lord bestows upon his people to a highly exalted banner, which serves as a signal, to a man lying low in misery, to rise up, with perhaps an allusion to Numbers 21:8, “And the Lord said to Moses, Make thee a serpent, and set it upon a standard-pole, and it happened that every one who was bitten and looked at it lived;” at any rate, that passage in which the serpent is a symbol of the healing power of God may serve to illustrate the passage before us: compare “ heal its breaches.” That התנוסס is nothing else than the Hiph. from. נסס in the sense of “to be elevated,” is evident from the passage Zechariah 9:16, from the connection with נס , properly “something lifted up,” and from the reference, which it is impossible to mistake to the miserably low condition of those who are drunk with the wine of intoxication, Psalms 60:3. Hence we are to reject not only the derivation from נוס , “to fly,” but also the translation “to stand up.” The Psalmist in the expression, “because of thy truth,” points out the cause of the salvation imparted to the people. It proceeds from the divine truth or faithfulness; see Romans 15:8. The sense “truth” is confirmed by קשׁ?ְ?טְ? in Proverbs 22:21, and by the Syriac. The idea of “bow,” קשׂ?ט =קשת may be left to the wandering fancies of the old translators. That “the truth,” is the divine steadfastness to truth, is evident from what follows, where everything refers to the truth of God: compare especially “because of thy truth” in this verse with the corresponding clause in Psalms 60:6, “in his holiness.” Hitzig and others give a false rendering: “to rise for the sake of the truth,” or, “in defence of the true religion.” The “truth” is obviously placed, from design, at the end of the sentence. The following paragraph, where the hope of future aid is made to rest on the truth of God, could not have been better introduced, than by closing the sentence with a reference of the deliverance already obtained as resulting from the truth of God.
In the second strophe, Psalms 60:5-8, the church utters a prayer for further deliverance, and makes it to rest on the glorious promises which God, who is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent, has put on record. Ver. 5. In order that thy beloved may be relieved, help with thy right hand and hear us. Ver. 6. God has spoken in his holiness, therefore will I rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and measure the valley Succoth. Ver. 7. Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine, and Ephraim, the strength of my head, Judah, my lawgiver, Ver. 8. Moab is my washing-tub, on Edom I cast my shoe, Philistia rejoice to me. Calvin on Psalms 60:5: “In adding prayer, he reminds us that God, when he lifts us up on high by his gracious deeds, ought to be modestly and humbly entreated to promote his own work.” The fundamental passage, for “thy beloved,” is Deuteronomy 33:12, where Benjamin is referred to as the beloved of the Lord, not in opposition to the other tribes, but on account of the part which he has in the affections of the whole community. David also, in reference undoubtedly to this passage, designated Solomon, ( 2 Samuel 12:25,) by the name Jedidiah. In reference to the accusative ימינך , compare at Psalms 3:4. The Keri “hear me,” instead of “us,” has been adopted, only because the singular is used in the following clauses. It was not observed, that the singular number denotes plurality.
The Psalmist in Psalms 60:6-8, founds his hope of having his prayer answered on the divine promise. The question may be asked to what divine promise does the Psalmist here refer. Most expositors refer to one not otherwise known to us, and given in the time of the Psalmist. The real reference is to the general aspect of the assurances given in the Pentateuch in regard to the possession of the land of Canaan in its widest extent, and victory over hostile neighbours. As far as regards the former of these, the Psalmist has particularly in his eye the blessing of Jacob in Genesis 49, the very language of which he employs in Psalms 60:7, and the blessing of Moses in Deuteronomy 33; and as regards the latter, the prophecies of Balaam. In favour of this view we may urge, besides the manifest reference to the Pentateuch, “the lily of the testimony,” in the title; the circumstance, that here the enemies in the north, with whom David had so much to do, are not even mentioned; the expressions, “I will divide,” and “I will measure,” which can only be explained, if considered as spoken at the era of Moses; and finally, that the historical record gives no notice of any such promises having been ever made to David in regard to the extension of his kingdom.
The expression “in his holiness,” (comp. Psalms 89:36, Amos 4:2,)—not “by his holiness,” and still less “in his sanctuary,”—is equivalent to, “as the Holy One,” “as he who is separated from all created and finite beings, (see Psalms 22:3,) and therefore above all deceit and change:” comp. Numbers 23:19.
The substance of the speech of God is given, though in an indirect form, in what follows. We may gather what it was, from the reply as grounded on it, which is made by the people: “God has given to me glorious promises, which as the Holy One, he must fulfil, and on the ground of them I will rejoice,” &c. For it is clear as day that we cannot, with Ewald, consider what follows as being spoken by God: the clauses, “Ephraim is the strength of my head,” “Judah is my lawgiver,” are sufficient to shew this, as is indeed Psalms 60:6 itself; for though God be supposed to speak there, yet it cannot be said that he has divided to Israel Succoth and Shechem: and yet it must come to this. Hence we cannot read the words
I will rejoice, &c. with marks of quotation.
That in the expression, “I will rejoice,” &c. we are not to suppose that David is the speaker, (as many have done, and thereby have wrought confusion,) but Israel, is evident from “hear us,” at the end of Psalms 60:5; also the use of the plural in the whole of the first strophe, and in the passage from Psalms 60:10-12, and finally from the clause, “Judah is my lawgiver,” which, on the other supposition, would be wholly destitute of meaning.—”I will rejoice,” refers to the whole of the divine promises. These are divided into two parts, as referring to the possession of Canaan, and to victory over the neighbouring nations. “I will divide my lawgiver,” refers to the first. The sense is:—“the whole of Canaan is my inalienable possession, I will do and act in it without control; no man shall succeed in removing portions or tribes of it from the whole.” The invasion of the Edomites has opened the eyes of the Israelites to the high value of those divine promises, which guarantee their occupancy of their own land, and to the importance of these promises at the present juncture. This thought is individualized by naming in succession several particular places, objects and tribes, which, together, make up a description of the whole land, in all its extent. First, with this view, we have Shechem named on the one side Jordan, and Succoth on the other. The representation in the passage before us, of the two great divisions of the land by these two places, is made in manifest reference to Genesis 33:17-18, where Jacob, on returning from Mesopotamia, first settles at Succoth, where he builds an house, and afterwards goes on to Shechem, where he builds an altar. The Psalmist sees in that action of Jacob—it is really very remarkable that Jacob makes a formal settlement in both places, and all the more so, that it is expressly intimated in Genesis 33:18, that Shechem was the first station, properly speaking, to which he came within the limit of Canaan,—a type and a pledge of the occupancy of the land by his posterity, an assurance that they would possess it on both sides of the Jordan. The clause: “I will divide and measure,” indicates, in general, the free grant: yet the choice of this particular phrase for expressing the free grant, manifestly shows, that the writer had in his eye the point of time when the promise was originally made, comp. Joshua 13:7, Joshua 18:8.
Next, in Psalms 60:7, several places are named, for the purpose of showing, that in virtue of the divine word, both divisions belong to Israel in all their extent. First, there are selected, in immediate connection with Succoth the place last named, Gilead and Manasseh, the two great divisions of the whole. The half tribe of Manasseh did indeed, on the one side, occupy a portion of Gilead; but this, in the present case, is kept out of view, and attention is directed to Bashan, which formed the main portion of the possessions of that tribe. Comp. Deuteronomy 3:12-13, Raumer, p. 229. Gilead was chiefly occupied by Reuben and Gad. On this side Jordan, Ephraim and Judah are mentioned, the two leading tribes of the nation, which could not be separated from it without endangering its whole existence, and with which, therefore, the whole must stand or fall. It is expressly said, that these are noticed as the main divisions of the country. There is no necessity for explaining “Ephraim is mine, the strength of my head, and Judah is my lawgiver,” as in opposition to Psalms 60:8. “Is mine,” is implied in “is, (“and continues to”) the strength of my head.” “The strength of my head” is to be explained from Psalms 27:1. “The fortress of life,” in that Psalm, is the fortress which protects life; and the fortress of the head can only be the fortress which protects the head. The “ head” is named as the part most exposed to a fatal wound; compare Psalms 68:21, Psalms 110:4, “The helmet of my head” is altogether preposterous. Ephraim is mentioned in Genesis 48:19, as a particularly rich and powerful tribe; he is signalized in the blessing of Jacob; in Deuteronomy 33:17, it is said of him: “his horns are the horns of a buffalo, with them he shall push nations.” “Judab is my lawgiver,”=“Judah is my (Israel’s) ruling tribe.” “ The rod of authority,” is an arbitrary invention. Reference is made to Genesis 49:10: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet,” that is, “he shall always take the rule over Israel.”
The Lord has promised to his people, not only the undivided possession of their own land, but also victory over the surrounding nations, Psalms 60:8. This verse points to that portion of the divine promises, to which we have here arrived, according to the title and the last strophe. In Psalms 60:6 and Psalms 60:7, the enemies could not succeed in, their attempts to injure Israel; here the enemies shall submit to Israel, in reference to his expedition for the subjugation of Edom. The enemies are brought forward in geographical order, beginning at the east, and thence along the south to the west. This sufficiently explains the fact, that Edom, against whom the expedition is directed, is placed in the middle instead of being found at the end: Ewald draws an entirely false conclusion from this circumstance. Moab is named before Edom on account of the prophecy of Balaam; see on Balaam, p. 184. “Moab is my washing tub,” is expressive of the state of ignominious bondage to which David reduced the Moabites: compare 2 Samuel 8:2, “And so the Moabites became David’s servants.” The vessel used for washing the feet was a dishonourable vessel: comp. Herod. 2, 172. When, keeping in view the idea of washing the feet, a person throws his shoes, which he has taken off, to any one to be taken away or to be cleaned,—השליך with על and also with אל , 1 Kings 19:19, is “to throw to any one,”—the individual to whom it belongs to perform such an office, must be a slave of the lowest kind: comp. Matthew 3:11; Acts 13:25. The expression is not used in Scripture in the sense of “to take possession of property:” in Ruth 4:7, the putting off the shoe is symbolical of giving up one’s right. “Rejoice over me Philistia,” is to be explained by “rejoice with trembling,” Psalms 2:11; it is the shout of a king that is meant, the outward expression of subjection for the purpose of averting the threatened punishment; compare also, “The sons of strangers feign to me,” in Psalms 18:44. In Psalms 108:9, it is suitably varied by, “I will rejoice over Philistia.” The translation, “lament over me, Philistia,” is negatived by the parallel passage: the Hithp. besides, has the sense of “rejoice,” in the few passages in which it elsewhere occurs: Psalms 65:13. The Philistines who, during the period of the judges, had severely oppressed Israel, were brought down to the very dust by David: comp. 2 Samuel 8:1, 2 Samuel 8:14; 1 Chronicles 18:13.
In the third strophe, ( Psalms 60:9-12), the people ground upon the glorious promises of God, referred to in the second, the hope of success in the expedition against Edom, and a prayer for the same.
Ver. 9. Who will bring me to the strong city, who conducts me to Edom. Ver. 10. Dost not thou, O God, “who didst put us away, and marchest not forth, O God, among our armies.” Ver. 11. Give us help against the enemy; and deceptive is the help of man. Ver. 12. In God we will do valiantly, and he shall tread down our enemies.
The ( Psalms 60:9) 9th verse is in reality connected with the second strophe by a therefore: inasmuch as have in my favour such a sure word of God. The strong city is the wonderful rock-built city Petra, the most important city of Idumea in later times: See Robinson, § 1, p. 128. It is evident, especially from 2 Kings 14:17, that Petra is exclusively referred to: “Amaziah slew Edom in the valley of Salt, (comp. title of the Ps.) and took Sela in war, and called it Joktel to this day.” The עיר מצור , “city of strength,” is used also in Psalms 31:21, which is a Davidic Psalm, and in Micah 7:12. The pret. נחני is the pret. of faith, which anticipates the future, and so represents the matter to itself, as if God had already led forth.—”Who hast put us away,” &c. is not to be considered as equivalent to “even while thou,” &c. but to “ although thou hast put us away.” The man who has the word and promise of God in his favour, cannot be shaken from his hope of deliverance by any contrary experiences:—these only serve to put his faith to the test. He regards every thing of a contrary character as a thin cloud, through which the sun of salvation will burst forth in his own good time. The words, “who marchest not out,” &c., are to be read with marks of quotation. They are quoted from Psalms 44:9, and are to he regarded as equivalent to, “thou of whom it used to be said,” &c. That Psalm was evidently composed when the author was in a state of misery, as is clear from the use of the future tense.
The עזרת in Psalms 60:11, and in Psalms 108:12, is used instead of the usual form עזרה . “And deceptive,”=“ while deceptive.” Calvin: “If in our contests with man we are not permitted to share the glory between ourselves and God, must it not be a much more intolerable offence in the work of salvation, to place the power of free will along side of the grace of the Holy Ghost, as if the two wrought in equal proportions together? Those men also perish through their pride, who, without God, attempt even one particle of virtuous conduct.”
In the words, “in God we shall do valiantly,” there is a manifest allusion to the clause in the prophecy of Balaam, Numbers 24:18, “And Israel does valiantly,” in which there is foretold the subjugation of Edom and Moab by the sceptre which was to rise out of Israel. The Psalmist virtually introduces the verse thus: As the Spirit of God said by Balaam, In, God we do valiantly. עשה חיל always signifies to act powerfully, mightily, valiantly: Compare on Balaam, p. 185. On “he will tread down,” see Psalms 44:5. 2 Samuel 8:14, shows how David’s hope was fulfilled, as far as the Edomites were concerned: “And he put garrisons in Edom, throughout all Edom he put garrisons, and all they of Edom became David’s servants: and the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went.”
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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 60". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent