Claiming God’s Promises
2 Samuel 8 and 10; Psalm 60:1–12
Samuel Lesson #186
September 3, 2019
“Our Father, we are so very thankful we have You to come to, that You are an incredible God, You are the one and only God. You are unique in every aspect of Your being, and You have created us in Your image and likeness to represent You, to have intimate fellowship with You and to be creatures who are devoted to You.
Father, we pray that You would challenge us even more to come to understand You, to delight in You, to delight in Your Word, to make that a priority in our lives in the midst of so many things that scream and yell at us all day long for our attention. Nevertheless, we need to keep a full orientation toward You.
Father, tonight as we study Your Word, and we come to understand more what it means to trust in You and to rely upon You on a day by day basis, we pray that You would open the Scriptures to us to help us understand the significance of this Psalm for us. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me tonight to Psalm 60. The reason we are in this psalm is clear from the superscript of the psalm, which puts it at about the time of the events that we’ve been studying in 2 Samuel 8 and 2 Samuel 10. That has some issues related to that, but the focal point really of this psalm is on claiming God’s promises.
So it’s a great psalm for that because it is a lament psalm. We’ve studied lament psalms before. That’s the scholarly identification or classification of these psalms, where the writer of the psalm is either personally going through a time of incredible adversity or distress or some crisis, or the nation is going through some distress or crisis.
In this case it’s the nation. And it appears that the nation has suffered some significant military defeat, and it’s not a military defeat that we are told about in 2 Samuel 8 or 2 Samuel 10. So we’re sort of left on our own in terms of digging down into that specific context.
It is about claiming God’s promise because as we look at Psalm 60, he begins by expressing the fact that they are under divine discipline. Apparently, he doesn’t know for sure. What he knows is that God has abandoned them, and as a result, they were seriously defeated.
Then in the middle of the psalm, God reminds them of His past promise to them in promising and giving them the Land and in promising to protect them and to help them. This leads to the final prayer and statement of faith in Psalm 60:10–12. It gives us a good understanding of our breakdown of how we claim a promise
What that means … When we say to claim a promise is that we are taking a promise or principle in God’s Word, and we are holding God to that. We’re expressing that to Him.
The reason I state it that way is every time I teach on the Faith-Rest Drill and claiming a promise in some other language, the interpreter looks at me like I’ve just started speaking in something other than English.
That is an idiom that could go back to the Old West here, where you would stake a claim. If you are mining, and you had a piece of land where you discovered gold or oil or some other mineral, you’d stake a claim. You were making a legal claim of ownership to something.
That’s the idea, that we’re owning that promise that God has given to us.
So, we say that there are three steps in claiming a promise. The first step is to grab hold of it. It is a promise in terms of the specific verse. Or maybe it’s just a portion of a verse. In some cases it is a principle.
But the example that we have in most cases in the Scripture is when God has spoken. So a crisis has occurred and someone is quoting or citing that promise as a way of defending themselves against temptation, or against some kind of attack, or to reorient their thinking toward God and God’s person and God’s plan.
The second step, as we think through the verse, we think through the promise. Then we see that they’re all built on certain rationales.
One rationale has to do with understanding the essence of God. Which is why we’re going to start by looking at what the Bible teaches about God’s providence, just understanding the nature, the essence, of who God is. Because it’s His character that is behind the promise.
The promise is no good if the person who gives the promise has no integrity. But if the person has integrity and is righteous, then that promise has value.
So, one issue is just understanding the essence of God. There are other rationales that we see and have studied as we go through the Scripture.
Then we look at the conclusions: Yes, God is faithful. Yes, God is righteous. Yes, God is sovereign.
We come to those conclusions and we take a stand on those conclusions. The result is that it changes the way we think about the crisis. It doesn’t necessarily change the crisis. It doesn’t change the test. It doesn’t change the temptation. It doesn’t change the adversity.
But it changes the way we think about that adversity. It changes the way in which we approach those circumstances in life, and so that enables us then to relax.
That’s the “rest” part. Faith-rest has two senses to it. It’s not just something passive. It is something that’s active.
The active part is that we’re grabbing hold of the promise, we’re praying to God, and sometimes the promise entails doing something. It may entail waiting on the Lord. It may entail moving forward.
For example, God gave a promise to Israel that they would conquer the Canaanites. Well, in that case, they had to trust God to give them the victory, but then they had to pick up their armor and their swords, and they had to cross the river Jordan, and they had to go into battle.
When God gave them directions that He would give them victory over Jericho, He gave them some pretty bizarre instructions. He said every day you’re going to keep your mouth shut and be as quiet as you can, and you’re going to walk one time around the city and then on the seventh day, you’re going to walk around it seven times. And then, when you finish the seventh time, you’re all going to shout and blow the trumpets, and the walls will fall down.
You don’t read about that tactic anywhere in any military manual in the world, but it is demonstrating the principle that we see all through the Scripture …
And that is that “the battle is the Lord’s”.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t engage in things that we can do. That as far as the Israelites were concerned, they needed to learn the skills of combat, they needed to learn to keep their weapons, their swords sharpened, they needed to keep their armor intact.
But that wasn’t the ultimate place of their confidence. It was in God.
That’s what we see as a theme in this particular psalm. That the problem in losing the battle according to David is that they have somehow—it doesn’t state what those circumstances are—they have done something. They have disobeyed God.
They’re either under divine discipline—it doesn’t really state it as such. So God has abandoned them, which is like what happened in Joshua 7, with the sin of Achan, where he buries his trophies and booty underneath his tent in disobedience to the Lord’s command.
Or maybe God is just testing them in terms of their obedience by not intervening. So they’ve lost the battle. And so it is an opportunity for them to trust God even more.
It’s not really clear in the text what those circumstances are. So before we get into that I want talk about what the Bible teaches about the providence of God.
We touched on this last week when we were in 2 Samuel 10. The only time God’s name is mentioned there … And there are two major battles that take place in 2 Samuel 10: the one involved the Ammonites (the war against Ammon in the first 14 verses) and then after that, there’s another major battle, a very significant battle, where there were high casualties that took place in the north against Zoba and the Syrians. That’s a major battle.
The only time God’s name is mentioned is when Joab recognizes they’ve been caught in a trap. He tells his brother Abishai that it’s up to God and that God’s going to take care of them. That’s really just an allusion to the providence of God.
So we’re going to go through about five summary points on the providence of God, and then we’ll look at how the faith-rest drill is illustrated in Psalm 60.
First of all, God’s providence is a function of His sovereignty. His sovereignty means that God rules over His Creation. We had a verse Sunday morning, I think it was in Psalm 24, talking about God, the “King of glory.”
This is not talking about Jesus as the Messianic King; it is talking about God the Father as the ruler of His Creation. It’s a verse that relates to His sovereignty. He rules over His Creation.
He rules actively, in terms of directly causing certain things, and He rules permissively where He allows human volition to take place that will bring about certain results. But God oversees, superintends, everything that takes place in human history.
So God’s providence is a function of His sovereignty, which emphasizes His rule or governance over the course of history.
The second thing we learn about the word “providence” is that it emphasizes God’s control of the course of history, including both the good and the evil. He allows evil to develop in this life since the Fall because He is accomplishing certain purposes.
They may be outside of our understanding. There are a lot of people who want to question how a good God can allow evil. Well if God didn’t allow evil …
Evil is the result of people who make decisions in rebellion against God, and they can only do that on the basis of individual volition or free will, individual responsibility. And that volition is not genuine if they don’t have the opportunity to disobey God, and to disobey God in the most egregious ways.
Now God many times overrules human volition. He overrules our volition to do good, and He overrules our volition to do evil.
There are times in your life and in mine when we really wanted to do certain things or help certain people or accomplish certain things, and God just has not made it possible for us to do that.
On the other hand, there are times perhaps when we wanted to do things that we knew we shouldn’t do and God, out of His grace, overruled us, and we just weren’t allowed to fulfill those lusts of our sin nature, whatever they might be. We haven’t been able to follow through with perhaps anger, or bitterness, or desire for revenge, or whatever, because God overruled.
That’s all part of the providence of God, and He is ultimately going to bring all things together for good. He is using all of these things to teach, to instruct, to demonstrate His character, His integrity, His love, and His grace.
When it’s all over, we will come to truly understand the promise of Romans 8:28, that “We know that all things work together for good.” God is working all things together for good.
It doesn’t say all things are good. He says God works them together for the end, the end result, which is good, that which brings glory to Himself.
Third point is that providence means that our lives and the events in our lives are not determined by chance, fate, or luck. Chance, fate, and luck are impersonal.
So for the believer, we don’t believe in chance. We don’t believe in fate. We don’t believe in luck.
But we believe in a personal God who is working all things according to His plan. And that we as believers in Christ have a direct personal relationship with Him that we can enjoy, and that enriches our lives, and gives us a basis for hope and for joy and for peace and stability, no matter what is going on around our lives.
The biggest problem we have I think as Americans—as those who are the products of the Western culture, the Western worldview—is that we think that when we have all these crises, we can do something about it. And that somehow our happiness is dependent upon circumstances going the way we want them to, people responding to us the way we want them to.
We think we can control things. We see a civilization, at least in America, where there are subgroups within our culture that seem to talk and act as if they can even control the weather. And that somehow, even things like Hurricane Dorian or Harvey, or any of these other horrible hurricanes, are somehow the result of what humans have done.
They are, but not in any way like you think. They’re the result of Adam’s original sin.
As a result of Adam’s original sin, we live in a corrupt world where all of these physical tragedies, these horrible physical things, take place simply because it’s a fallen world. And God is in control.
But God allows these systems to work their way out and even so, He intervenes.
I think that God is intervening to some degree on this storm [Dorian], and the answer to a lot of prayers in keeping it from going straight into Florida and going straight up the peninsula north and doing an incredible amount of damage and taking a tremendous number of lives.
In the way it so far seems to have stayed off the coast, it has saved a lot of lives and saved a lot of property and a lot of money, and I think God intervenes in cases like that.
Some people may say, “Why didn’t God just make it all go away?” Well, I don’t know. There are a lot of factors we don’t know, but we trust God to do the right thing.
As Abraham said in Genesis 18:25, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
He knows a lot more about what is going on than any of us. So we trust Him and that He is a personal God who is involved in all of the details of the running of the planet.
Fourth, providence therefore is related to the character of God. We have to understand three factors.
First of all, His sovereignty. He’s determined that mankind is allotted a certain domain of freedom, a certain arena of freedom, in human history. We can make a lot of choices, and carry out those choices.
There are other times when we make choices, but then God overrides those choices, and we’re not able to carry it out. And I think in the areas of good things …
How many times have we heard Christians say, “Well if I won the lottery I would support this ministry, or I would support that ministry, or if this happened, or if that happened then I would provide that for the ministry.”
Maybe that’s one reason none of you are ever going to get a dime off of the lottery. It is because God knows these ministries need to trust in Him and not in the lottery.
So, God’s in control. He is omniscient. He knows all of the details.
That’s part of the second aspect of His character and that is His omniscience. He knows all of the knowable. There are examples in Scripture in a number of places where God makes statements that indicate that He knows what would happen if people had made a different decision.
Jesus makes a statement about Capernaum and Bethsaida, that if all the miracles that have been performed in Capernaum and Bethsaida had been performed in Sodom and Gomorrah, then Sodom and Gomorrah would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
So He knows what would have or could have or should have happened under different circumstances, and so that brings a tremendous level of complexity to the knowledge of God.
It’s interesting because there are a lot of folks, especially those of a more rigid Calvinistic perspective, who completely reject that as Arminian. It’s the most convoluted logic I’ve ever heard. God has to be able to know all of the knowable. Otherwise, if He just knows what He determines—and so everything that happens is what He determines—then the result of that is you have a God who isn’t as great of a god as a God who knows all of the knowable.
Then the last aspect to emphasize in this is God’s integrity. He is absolute love. He wants to do the best for His creatures, and it has to be done in an accord with His perfect righteousness, which is the standard of His character… His absolute virtue and His justice, which is the application of that righteousness to His creatures.
All of those attributes work together in perfect harmony toward the human race. So, we have to learn to trust God even in the midst of circumstances ... that we don’t see how we’ll ever get out from under them, and sometimes we don’t ever get out from under them.
Sometimes we’re in circumstances and situations, perhaps of the making of other people—sometimes we suffer in association with others because of decisions they make.
I’ve been reading through Jeremiah lately in my chronological Bible reading plan. Here is a man of God, a prophet like Isaiah called by God to a ministry where he is going to proclaim the truth, day in and day out and be attacked, be rejected, nobody’s going to listen to him. He’s going to be assaulted. He’s going to be thrown down in a pit.
All of these things happen, and he never gets away from it. He never had a comfortable, relaxed ministry where people would come and thank him for what he was teaching them. He never had that kind of opportunity.
When the focal point of his ministry was over—which was warning the people about the coming of the Babylonians and God’s judgment on them and that they would be taken out of the land. When all that was over, the Babylonians came and destroyed Jerusalem and destroyed the temple, he continued to be rejected by the people.
You read of him being approached by some of the leaders and them saying, “Oh, we made such terrible mistakes, tell us what God wants us to do, and we will do it. It doesn’t matter what it is. We have learned our lesson. We will do exactly what God wants us to do.”
Then Jeremiah says, “Well, this is what God wants you to do.” And they’d say, “Not a chance! We’re not going to do it.”
Now that’s a wonderful ministry that is going to make your heart happy every day. His circumstances didn’t change, but he had that stability and tranquility …
There were times when he complained … In one of the passages I learned early on in my ministry, when I was dealing with a congregation that had a lot of problems, and they were negative, and they were rejecting most of what they were being taught … And I was reading Jeremiah.
Jeremiah was complaining to God about the fact that the people weren’t listening to him. That resonated with me at the time, and God’s answer was a question. He said, “If you can’t walk with the footman, how are you going to run with the chariots?” Jeremiah 12:5
In other words, if you can’t handle the small stuff in a small town, how are you going to handle the big stuff when I move you to Jerusalem and you really come under attack?
God works in those circumstances to teach us, to train us and mature us.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation …—The word there indicates a test, a situation that tests us, and the temptation is to try to solve it without depending upon God—No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful,—that’s the bottom line. Are we going to trust God and to be faithful and true to who He is, and let Him take care of us?—who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able.”
A lot of people misunderstand that. I’ve heard people say, “Well, God must think you’re really mature because look at the suffering you’re going through.” The ability there is what comes from the Scripture and from the Holy Spirit. Every one of us has those assets.
From the instant you’re saved you have God the Holy Spirit, and you have the Word of God. So any testing you have, you’re capable of handling through the Word of God and the Spirit of God, from the moment you were regenerated. You can be in incredibly difficult circumstances right away, but you trust God. He can handle it. And He will.
1 Corinthians 10:13b, “But with the temptation will also make the way of escape.”
That’s the way of escape—to be protected under the everlasting arms. That’s where we escape. We don’t escape by avoiding the difficulty, we escape by fleeing to God and hiding “in the cleft of the rock” as the hymn [He Hideth My Soul, based on Psalm 27:5] says, under the everlasting arms.
We are protected by God. And the storm doesn’t go away. But we’re protected by God because that’s where we are.
The last point on this is, that the doctrine of God’s providence means that we can relax in the midst of our adversity because we know that God is in control. He hasn’t been taken by surprise.
He has provided for this situation from eternity past. He’s instructed us. He’s taught us. He’s provided for us.
There’s no situation that is too great for the omnipotence of God. There’s no situation that’s a surprise to the omniscience of God. And there’s no situation that’s outside the control of the sovereignty of God. So we can just relax and trust God and enjoy the ride.
Now let’s start with Psalm 60. That gives us background. Psalm 60 has twelve verses plus the superscript. And the superscript reads like this: “To the Chief Musician.”
All the psalms were written to be sung. These were the hymns that were sung in the temple at different times of the year, at different circumstances, different situations. So they give us a standard, in terms of the lyrics, for excellent poetry.
The lyrics of what we sing should be excellent. They should be sophisticated. Now a word like “sophisticated.” People don’t know what sophisticated is.
It means that they’re solid in terms of their doctrinal content, in terms that there’s a rhythm to the words. It means that they’ve been thought out. It has been organized and structured. It’s taken time to think through.
Just as you read Shakespeare, you read maybe the lyrics of Handel … These were written by men who thought about what they were writing, and they had spiritual depth in their souls. They had a relationship with God that was not superficial.
Superficial people produce superficial lyrics. Superficial people produce superficial music.
And you have to take time to truly understand and learn about music, and to learn about art, and to learn about writing, and to learn about poetry, to be able to produce that which is sophisticated. That doesn’t mean it’s complex.
Some people hear “sophisticated,” they think, “Oh, you’re talking about something like opera.” Well, opera was written for was the common people. If you study the history of opera, opera wasn’t written for the elites in society. Operas were written as entertainment for the common people.
But the reason that certain ones gained popularity … They gained popularity because they were sophisticated in the way they handled these great themes of life, and they handled those things.
When you have superficial Christians, you produce nothing more than superficial products and superficial hymns and choruses. And that’s what we have today.
So Psalm 60 is written “To the Chief Musician.” And then it says it is “Set to ‘Lily of the Testimony.’ ” We don’t know what the tune was for Lily of the Testimony, but the words are designed to fit a certain melody line. That’s part of the sophistication.
As writers write words, the lyrics, to music, the lyrics will easily fit, and the music is a frame for the words. And then we’re told that it’s a Michtam.
There are only a few psalms that are described as a Michtam. We’re not exactly sure what that means. It probably has to do with a type of structure.
Then it says it is, “For teaching,” for instruction. So Psalm 60 is a hymn, a psalm, that is written but it teaches. All music teaches.
That’s one reason that I take a lot of care to select the music that we sing. It’s because there’s so much [bad] music that is out there today. And not just today.
You can go back in the history of the church all the way back to the second century and there is more garbage than there is good stuff.
When it’s bad theology… You don’t want people learning their theology from the lyrics. I was telling the story, I think it was Sunday morning, about a man who’s in a contemporary worship group, and somebody else in that group apostatized from the faith.
This man mentioned and wrote something and it was quite good. It talked about how, sadly to me, people today are learning their theology from the superficial lyrics. That’s been true for almost 2,000 years. I’m sure it was true in the Old Testament, too.
That people learn a lot of their theology from what they sing in church. If you’re not singing good, solid hymns in church, where the words are solid and doctrinally accurate, then people are going to get ideas that are not biblically accurate.
So, it’s designed for teaching.
Then the superscript tells us that this occurred at the time [Psalm 60] “When he fought against Mesopotamia and Syria of Zobah, and Joab returned and killed twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.”
So, it locates its historical context in what is described in 2 Samuel 8 and 2 Samuel 10, but it doesn’t directly fit anything that we are told in either of those two chapters.
2 Samuel 8 talks about David’s battles with the Philistines, with the Moabites, with Hadadezer and the Aramaeans up in Syria, and then the Edomites. In 2 Samuel 10, we get more detail on the battles with the Ammonites in 2 Samuel 10:6–14, and then with Hadadezer and the Aramaeans in 2 Samuel 10:16–19. So, this fits what the superscript says at the beginning of Psalm 60.
Here’s a map [on this slide] to remind you of where these places are located. In between the circles is the area of Israel that they controlled under Saul, and then it expanded more under David.
David, as we studied in our tactics and strategy class last week, first took out the Philistines so that his back would be protected. Then he came down and he attacked the Edomites, and then the Moabites, and then the Ammonites. And then the Ammonites went into an alliance with the Aramaeans, and the Aramaeans sent an army down and they set up an ambush. Joab just almost got completely defeated, but God gave them the victory.
Then they escaped and got away from there, went back to Jerusalem only to hear that Zobah was bringing down all of his armies from this area off the map, here, which is the Euphrates River, and the Euphrates River is one of two major rivers that flows through Mesopotamia.
We know what a hippopotamus is. That is a river horse. So Mesopotamia is from the Greek word POTOMAS, river, and so MESO is the middle. So it’s between the two rivers.
It’s Aram-Naharaim in the Hebrew, which is Aram of the two rivers. Well that describes Mesopotamia. So, this is the area that we’re talking about.
Specifically, Psalm 60 seems to be focusing on getting victory over the Edomites, who mostly lived in the area south of the Dead Sea and southeast of the Dead Sea.
I thought I would just put this up here for some comparison to some other translations. The top verse is how it is described in the New King James version. In the New American Standard, it says [Psalm 60:0 NASB], “For the choir director; according to Shushan Eduth.—See, they didn’t translate it. They just transliterated it; whereas, the New King James translated it as “Lily of the Testimony.”—A Mikhtam of David, to teach; when he struggled with Aram-naharaim—see, they just transliterated it again rather than translating it as Mesopotamia—and with Aram-zobah,—which is Syria of Zobah—and Joab returned and smote twelve thousand of Edom in the Valley of Salt.”
Then the last one goes off of the screen but it’s similar, from the NET Bible translation of Psalm 60:0, “For the choir director; according to Shushan Eduth. A Micktam of David, to teach; when he struggled with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah and Joab returned and smote twelve thousand in Edom in the Valley of Salt.”
Now this word “teach” is the Hebrew word lamad. Lamad means “to teach” or “to instruct.”
Remember, Hebrew was written without vowels, so you had consonants LMD. If you stick a T in front of it, it is going to make it a noun, and it becomes Talmud. Talmud comes from the root verb lamad, which means “to teach.” It’s in the piel stem, which intensifies it, so it’s the meaning of “get instruction.”
So it’s designed for instruction, and that’s the purpose for this particular psalm.
We can divide this psalm into three basic sections. The message of the psalm isn’t difficult. There are a couple of verses that are crazy difficult, and I’ll get to explain that briefly.
I had typical insomnia about 1:30 in the morning and was awake from 1:30 to 3:30. So, I thought, well I will sit down and just read over the lesson.
I read about eight commentaries on this textual problem. Four agreed one way and four agreed the other way. Everybody said this is extremely difficult. We really don’t know what we’re talking about.
Now these are from world-class scholars, so it’s not always a matter of just knowing the Hebrew or the Greek. Sometimes that just creates more problems.
So the first part of Psalm 60, the first five verses, having experienced a crisis of national defeat, the psalmist recognizes the problem is spiritual and addresses God as the ultimate solution to the problem.
Now that communicates to every single one of us, because we hit crises in life. There are physical dimensions to crises in life. If you have a financial crisis … Well there are certain things you have to do in terms of solving things, in terms of your bank account, in terms of paying bills.
That’s the physical side, but ultimately, every issue has a spiritual dimension and it’s trusting God to provide the resources.
So David recognizes this. They suffered this incredible military defeat that caused the nation to question if God really has their back.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think you live very long as a Christian if you don’t hit some wall or some situation or crisis in your life where you don’t say, “God where are You? Are You really alert? Awake? Are You off worrying about what’s going on in China right now?” And you just wonder what’s happening.
But that’s where Israel was at this time. They had had tremendous victories with David, but now all of a sudden, they suffered what was apparently a significant military defeat. They’re having to self-evaluate, and evaluate their spiritual life to determine what’s going on here.
So the first five verses express the circumstances for the problem and the lament.
Then in the next three verses, Psalm 60:6–8, God speaks to them. And He reminds them of His past promises to give them the Land, but He also reminds them that He will bring judgment eventually on all of Israel’s enemies.
So this is the promise that they’re wrapping their spiritual mind around, that God has made these promises from the time of Abraham forward. And with those promises, there were warnings of judgment if they were disobedient, as well as promises of blessing if Israel was obedient, but that God eventually would deal with their enemies.
Then the last part is prayer, and that has great application for us. The psalmist prays for victory over Israel’s enemies with confidence, that God is going to give them the victory. God’s the only One who can help.
The psalm begins in the first verse addressing God [Psalm 60:1], “O God,—notice he doesn’t say Yahweh. He’s addressing God as Elohim—O God, You have cast us off; You have broken us down; You have been displeased; Oh restore us again!”
In certain ways … I could probably translate that in the vernacular that everybody here would get, but I’m going to avoid that. “You’ve abandoned us. You’ve deserted us!” That’s how it really begins here, but I want you to notice where it goes.
This is one of those psalms I tell you about all the time that starts off with direct honesty from the writer of the psalm towards God. He’s not trying to blow smoke at God and talk all these niceties about God. There’s an undertone of confusion, of perhaps some anger, some uncertainty. He doesn’t understand why this has happened.
I want you to see the transition that comes at the end of the psalm. In Psalm 60:11 you have the basic petition, “Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless.”
That’s a good verse to memorize and a good verse to use in prayer when you’re calling upon God to help you in any trouble. Whatever it is. It may be financial trouble. It may be health problems. It may be marital problems. It may be other family problems. It may be problems at work.
The ultimate solution is always God.
There may be some intermediate solutions, but the ultimate solution is a spiritual solution, and it is always God. We’re studying about the sufficiency of Scripture on Thursday night in our study in 2 Peter. It’s the sufficiency of God here. He is the One who helps us.
Man can’t do it, and human viewpoint is useless. It may be a Band-Aid on a problem for a while. And for a while, maybe five, ten or fifteen years … But then it’s going to crash.
Human viewpoint is only a temporary solution, and it’s a fake solution. God is the only One who can deliver us and help us in times of trouble.
Psalm 60:12 concludes “Through God we will do valiantly …”—the Hebrew word there is a word for great strength. It’s a word that is used to describe the courage and the victory of a mighty warrior, and so—Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.”
We get this great image that is used again and again in Scripture, of God just walking through a battlefield and slaughtering the enemy. And so He is the One who completely squashes our enemies and our problems.
We go back to the first verse of Psalm 60, and there are three lines here, three different verbs used to express this reality that God didn’t back them in a battle. God wasn’t there. God did not show up, and they were soundly defeated.
The first verb is translated as “cast off,” and it has that idea of being spurned. It’s a very harsh term—you’ve been totally rejected. This is a term that is emphasizing the fact that God seems to have abandoned them, but not in the sense that God has completely deserted them as He would unbelievers.
But this is talking about the fact that God is not there to support them, and probably because there is some sin in the life that needs to be dealt with, in the life of Israel.
This word that is translated “cast off” or “spurned” or “rejected” is the Hebrew word zanach, and it is used again down in verse 10, which is what I have at the bottom of the slide. Psalm 60:10, “Is it not You, O God, who cast us off? And You, O God, who did not go out with our armies?”
So, he repeats his complaint toward God down in verse 10, but then he immediately shifts to his plea to God in verse 11, to give us help from our trouble.
Whenever you run into this kind of usage, it always emphasizes some sort of divine discipline when God is involved.
The same thing is true of the second word, paratz, which means to “break through.” It’s given a very strong visual in Isaiah 5:5, when God is talking about Israel using the imagery of a vineyard that is surrounded by a wall. And God says the wall is going to be broken down and trampled down. It removes protection.
So, that’s the idea here. Breaking something down is to remove any protection. And when God is the subject of paratz in the Scripture, then it emphasizes His punishment of Israel for something that is going on.
The text doesn’t tell us about any of those things. We just have these hints in the background.
God has spurned the people, which is not the same as completely abandoning them and deserting them. He’s not moving away from them. He is providing for them, but He’s going to punish them as a result of whatever the sin is that caused this.
We look at Psalm 43:2 that uses the same kind of language by David, “For You are the God of my strength; Why do You cast me off?” See this is talking about broken fellowship, not a complete and total abandonment.
Then the last line is ‘anaph of Psalm 60:1: “You have been displeased;” God is really angry. That’s what that is saying. “You are very angry with us.”
The word ‘anaph is really based on the Hebrew word for “nose” or “nostril.” It goes back to a metaphor for describing people who are angry. Their nose turns red. Somebody gets really upset, and their face turns red.
That’s the idea, and that’s what they meant when they said you’re angry. They didn’t have a Hebrew word for “angry,” for that emotion. They had a word that was a physical attribute.
So we call that an anthropomorphism, where you take an aspect of the human body, and you attribute it to God. He doesn’t actually possess an arm, an eye or a leg, but we use that as a figure of speech, so that we can understand the plan and purpose of God.
So this, first of all, is an anthropomorphism—God’s nose turns red—that converts to an anthropopathism—God is angry. An anthropopathism is to talk about a human emotion that God doesn’t actually possess, in order to communicate something about His plans or purposes.
I remember some years ago reading an article about the question: Does God have emotion? I read the article and I respected that guy. I was friends with the guy wrote the article.
And I came back and I said that you’re an Old Testament major. How in the world did you ignore the fact that all these terms for God’s anger which you talk about, are all anthropomorphisms? He hadn’t even caught that.
They are all anthropomorphisms—this is very difficult. That’s why I’m going back to this classic way of talking about emotion.
I’ve said this four or five times now from the pulpit, that emotion is a recent term. It wasn’t really coined until you get into the 1700s. Prior to that, they talked about the passions, the bodily passions.
Anger would be a bodily passion. And they talked about the intellectual appetites. So that you have things today that we might call positive emotion, but we shouldn’t use that term because it muddies the water.
There is no comparable word to emotion anywhere in the Bible. You have words to talk about volition. You have words that talk about specific emotional sins, but you don’t have a word that translates as emotion. And so you have to talk about this in very precise ways.
This is talking about the fact that God is executing His justice. When God—we hear those phrases, “the wrath of God”—we use the same thing …
You go into a courtroom, and you have done something criminal and you get the maximum penalty. We have an idiom for that, that the judge “threw the book at you.” That pictures a judge who’s out of control and angry, but he’s not. He would not last on the bench if he got personally, emotionally angry all of the time.
But it is a figure of speech to say that we have received judgment according to the fullest extent of the law. That’s what’s in the book, it’s the book of the law.
So that’s what we have here. When we talk about the wrath of God, it is talking about the fullness of God’s judicial punishment for something.
Then we have an interesting description here. It’s translated as [Psalm 60:2], “You have made the earth tremble;” but it’s the word eretz. It is a Hebrew word that refers to the land.
Today if you are in Israel, you talk about eretz Israel, the land of Israel. So, this is eretz here. It isn’t talking about the earth in terms of the world. This is talking about the land of Israel.
They’ve had this military defeat, and it’s been so’s significant that he hyperbolically talks about how the land itself vibrated like an earthquake, and it’s shaking and it’s breaking in pieces because of the fear that we are going to be destroyed. So that’s the idea in verse two.
Then in Psalm 60:3, “You have shown Your people hard things; You have made us drink the wine of confusion.” That’s the New King James, and it actually means “reeling,” where you’re just left to stumble about. We have lost our bearings because of the judgment that has come.
Now this idea of drinking wine (and wine is taken out of a cup), so you drink the dregs of the cup. That’s a metaphor throughout the Scripture for God’s judgment.
He treads the wine presses. That is a picture of judgment. You tread the wine.
What color is the grape juice? It’s red, like blood. That is language and imagery talking about military defeat, loss of life. And it specifically speaks of judgment.
For example, Matthew 20:22. We have the mother of James and John wanting to know if her sons can sit at the right hand of the Lord when He comes in His kingdom, and He says, “ ‘You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink …’ ”
The drinking of the cup, that’s judgment. The judgment of sin that was going to come to the Lord when He went to the Cross.
Matthew 26:39, He uses the same imagery in the Garden of Gethsemane when He says to the father, “ ‘Let this cup—this judgment—pass from Me …’ ”
In Revelation 14:10, it talks about “drink the wine of the wrath of God.” Again, drinking the wine of the cup, drinking the wrath of God, speaks of divine judgment that’s “poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.”
And in Revelation 16:19, “… great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.” That describes judgment.
We see the same thing in the Old Testament in Isaiah 51:17, “Awake, awake! Stand up O Jerusalem, you have who have drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of His fury—talking about His judgments, talking about God bringing discipline on Israel—You have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, and drained it out.”
Isaiah 51:22, “Thus says your Lord, the LORD, and your God, Who pleads the cause of His people: ‘See, I have taken out of your hand the cup of trembling, the dregs of the cup of My fury; You shall no longer drink it.’ ” He is stopping the discipline.
This is what is being pictured here when we get down to verse three. So, these first three verses all talk about that. For some reason, Israel has come under divine judgment, and they’ve lost this battle and it’s been a significant defeat.
In Psalm 60:4 David prays, “You have given a banner to those who fear You, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah!”
Now, who knows what that verse is saying? The first part is pretty clear: “You have given a banner …”
The word there is nes, and there are a couple of paronomasias here, or “word plays”, in the Hebrew. I’m not going get into that. It doesn’t help us a whole lot. “You have given a banner to those who fear You.”
This idea of a banner goes back to Exodus 17:15. After the victory over the Amalekites, “Moses built an altar and called its name The-LORD-Is-My-Banner.” So, Yahweh is the One around Whom we converge in the middle of a battle, because He’s the One Who’s going to protect us.
Then you get to Numbers 21:8–9, and the same word is used, but it’s translated “pole” here. “Then the LORD said to Moses—this is the episode of the fiery serpents when people are getting bitten by these vipers, and it’s going to be fatal unless they follow God’s solution. And so God’s solution is that Moses is to build a bronze serpent and put it up on a pole. And if people looked at it, they would be instantly healed from the bite. So here—‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole’ ”, as a banner.
Here the purpose is, this is how you’d be saved. This idea of looking at a banner has something to do with deliverance and salvation, and that message that you converge on the banner, and you will be saved.
So [Psalm 60:4], “You have given a banner to those who fear You—that is believers—that it may be displayed because of the truth.”
The verb that comes up next is a verb form of “banner,” “that it may be displayed” and so that relates the second line back to the banner. That’s part of the word play that’s going on here.
But that last line “because of the truth,” the Hebrew word is—remember no vowels—QSHT.
some manuscripts have qoshet, which is another word for “truth.” Others have qeshet, which has to do with the “bow,” like you shoot an arrow with.
The English translations, both the Tanakh that I consulted—the 1917 Jewish Publication Society Tanakh, and the 1985 Tanakh ... both have “truth.”
But most—about half—of the English translations, have “truth.” Half the English translations have “bow.”
The idea is that in the “bow” option, that the banner would show the way of escape before the bow. They’re being attacked.
The other view that this is the truth, it is the banner that is displaying the truth of the Lord. And so by rallying around the Lord, then there will be victory.
So I hate saying it could be “a” or it could be “b,” but it’s unclear what the original word in the Hebrew is there, as to which way it goes.
But the bottom line is, God is the One Who is providing the victory for those who fear Him.
Then you get to Psalm 60:5, “That your beloved may be delivered—this is the request—save with Your right hand and hear me.”
This word “beloved” is interesting. It is the based on the Hebrew root word yedid. Yedid and david are cognates. David is the name for David, so there is sort of a word play there.
Another interesting historical fact is, that one of the great British officers who was an early Zionist was Orde Wingate. Orde Wingate was originally reared in the home of Plymouth Brethren parents, and taught well, and taught a love for the Jewish people.
He was stationed in Israel in the time of the Arab revolt in the late 1930s, where he taught them how to be night fighters. He taught Moshe Dayan all of his understanding of night tactics, all based on Wingate’s understanding of what Gideon did against the Midianites, and night fighting against the Midianites in Judges 6 and 7.
He became greatly loved by the leadership in Israel. He led a group of commandos. He was a general in India for the British Army during World War II.
He was shot down over Burma. It was an American plane. Most of those in the plane, except for Wingate, were Americans.
So when they discovered the crash site after the war, they just scooped up all the remains and buried them in a mass grave at Arlington National Cemetery. This irritated the Brits … But they couldn’t really decide who was who, from what was left over.
But the Israelis gave him a nickname. They called him Hayedid, “the friend” in modern Hebrew. They translate that as “The friend,” but that is, that was, a great honor from them.
For many years—I just found out they don’t do it anymore. For many years, the Israeli ambassador in Washington, D.C. would have a ceremony on the anniversary of Wingate’s death, and they would go out to his grave and put flowers on the grave.
So this is used in Isaiah 5:1, “Now let me sing to my Well-beloved a song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard on a very fruitful hill.” So, here it’s related to God. So it relates to God. It relates to those whom God loves.
The request in Psalm 60:5 is “That your beloved may be delivered, save with Your right hand.”—we’ve seen that in our study in Psalm 89, the right hand is the hand of great power.—“[S]ave with Your right hand,—omnipotence—and hear me.” Respond to my prayer.
So Psalm 60:6–9 really talks about the geography.
Psalm 60:6–7, “God has spoken in His holiness:—this is the promise—‘I will rejoice; I will divide Shechem and measure out the Valley of Succoth.’ ” What this is talking about is God marking out the boundaries for the inheritance, the property, that would belong to each of the tribes.
So here—see map on slide—is Succoth, and Shechem is here [to the west]. Shechem is located right about here. It’s not located on the map. It’s located right about here, and so you have Shechem in the Cisjordan, you have Succoth in the Transjordan.
Basically what God is saying is, I’m the One who divided up the territories for the different tribes in in the land.
I’m in control. “ ‘Gilead is Mine’.”
Gilead is the Transjordan over here. [See map on slide.] Here you have Jabesh-gilead, Ramoth-gilead. So, Gilead is in the area of the Transjordan.
And He says, “‘Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine.’”
Manasseh had a half tribe in the Transjordan and had a half tribe in the Cisjordan. So here’s West Manasseh in the Cisjordan and then this brown area here was Manasseh. The other half of the tribe is over there.
So what He is saying is all of this land is mine and I’ve divided it up and I’m controlling it. Even though you lost the battle, you haven’t lost the Land.
In Psalm 60:8, then He says, “ ‘Moab is My washpot;—that’s where you wash your feet, get all the dirt and dust off, so it’s an extremely unclean thing. It’s just a servile thing is to be called a washpot—Over Edom I will cast My shoe;’ ”
What do you do? You have dirty feet. You’ve been mucking about in the mud. You sit down, you take your shoes off, and you throw them somewhere.
He’s throwing it against Edom, and then He’s washing His feet.
That’s basically an idiom that, I’m just walking all over Moab and Edom, and they are nothing to Me, but that which is dirty and filthy and not significant.
Then continuing in Psalm 60:8, “ ‘Philistia, shout in triumph because of Me.’ ” So, Moab, Edom, and Philistia are mentioned here. They are mentioned in 2 Samuel 8, 2 Samuel 10.
Then remember, God is still speaking. “ ‘Moab is My wash pot. Over Edom I will cast My shoe; Philistia shouts in triumph because of Me.’ ”
Psalm 60:9, “ ‘Who will bring Me to the strong city? Who will lead Me to Edom?’ ” They don’t have it there, but it’s still the first person singular pronoun, and it doesn’t change.
So God is asking here, who is going to go out and lead the troops now so we can defeat the enemy? Who’s going to lead the troops in obedience to Me? That is the basic question.
And then it shifts to the psalmist speaking and says [Psalm 60:10], “Is it not You, O God, who cast us off? And You, O God, who did not go out with our armies?” How are You asking us to lead, when You’re the One who seems to cast us off?
Then he says in Psalm 60:11, “Give us help,” and here’s that great word ezer.
Ezer is used to describe the helper, the woman, who is designed to be the helper for the man. Here’s a great example like I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. The wife is a helper, but this is not a place in our society that has value.
But since God is the One who has designated the primary helper in Scripture, and the way He helps is by delivering Israel or delivering believers, it elevates the role of the wife in the family to be the one who aids and helps and makes the family successful.
So that’s the picture and the comparison you have here in Psalm 60:11, praying to God, “Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless.” You can’t rely on human viewpoint.
Psalm 60:12, “Through God we will do valiantly—we will have a great victory—for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.”
Not us, not our skill, but it’s God.
So this takes us through Step One, claiming a promise. Step Two, thinking through the doctrinal rationale of who God is and what He has promised and the basis of that promise to us as Israel. Then Step Three, appropriating the doctrinal conclusions that God is going to give us a fantastic victory because we’re not going to rely on ourselves. We’re going to rely on God.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study through this psalm, to be encouraged and strengthened with the focal point here that You are the One who is our helper; You’re the One who delivers us.
“When we trust in You and You alone, then we will have tremendous victory. You are the One who will provide that protection for us and sustain us, no matter what crisis may be going on around us. No matter what the difficulties may be, You will provide for us, and You will sustain us.
“Father, we pray that we would come to understand how these principles apply in our own lives. In Christ’s name, amen.”