The Interruption of God’s Word: Psalm 60

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Psalm 60 (NIV)

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.

Sing this psalm with the Seedbed Psalter today! Visit the resource here.

CONSIDER THIS

Psalm 60 is a battle psalm reflecting a number of battles recorded for us in 2 Samuel 8. David and his armies were occupied in the north fighting against the Syrians. In the midst of this he gets word that the Edomites have attacked Israel in the south, perhaps Jerusalem itself. In addition, verse 2 of the psalm indicates that there was a major earthquake that shook the land. David is feeling that everything is going against him. Indeed, the first five verses of this psalm are dominated by direct accusations against God: “You have rejected us” (v. 1); “you have been angry” (v. 1); “You have shaken the land and torn it open” (v. 2); “You have shown your people desperate times” (v. 3); and “you have given us wine that makes us stagger” (v. 3). Perhaps you have felt this way. You look around and everything seems to be going wrong. Isn’t God sovereign? Isn’t he the Lord of the universe? Why doesn’t he act? Does he even know what I’m going through? The Psalms never sanitize the raw emotions that sometimes erupt in our experience. The truth of the matter is that our timetable is so often at odds with God’s timetable. We see things from a very narrow perspective, whereas God sees things from the vast eternity of his unfolding purposes. At best, we can only analyze situations with three or four contingencies in mind (if this would happen, then that would be the result; but if that happens, this might result, etc.). In contrast, God infinitely knows every possible contingency and can always achieve his final purposes, despite all possible exertions of human will and plans

Verse 6 should be viewed as a massive, crashing in-breaking of God’s Word into the desperate cries of David and the tiny perspective we have on history. We will encounter this dramatic, divine interruption again in Psalm 69, but here in Psalm 60, God’s voice thunders forth: “God has spoken from his sanctuary” (v. 6). What follows is a verbal, rushing waterfall of words that spill across the song, each and every phrase demonstrating God’s sovereignty over Israel’s enemies: “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem . . . Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter. Moab is my washbasin, upon Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph” (vv. 6–8). God is the only true warrior in the universe; all others will, in the end, be tossed aside. This is why the last verse of the psalm concludes with new, even bold, confidence by David: “With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies” (v. 12). Our problems and challenges are quite different from David’s, but the final confident conclusion belongs to us all!

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Timothy C. Tennent is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and a Professor of Global Christianity. His works include Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century and Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. He blogs at timothytennent.com and can be followed on twitter @TimTennent.

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