Psalm 60:9 Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?
Psalm 60:10 God, haven’t you rejected us? God, you do not march out with our armies.
Psalm 60:11 Give us aid against the adversary, because human help is worthless.
Psalm 60:12 With God we will perform valiantly; he will trample our foes.
Occasionally we see news reports of athletes or bodybuilders who are no longer allowed to compete because they have been found to use performance enhancing drugs.
The psalmist here actually pleads for an edge that goes beyond what he and his nation could do in the flesh. He wants performance enhancement from God. With God they can accomplish their mission; without him their armies are doomed.
The same is true with our mission to disciple the nations. That is why the Lord told his church to stay put in Jerusalem until they were empowered by the Holy Spirit. That performance enhancement came on Pentecost, and it makes all the difference.
Lord, thank you for the power you have given us for doing your mission.
Psalm 60:6 God has spoken in his sanctuary: “I will celebrate! I will divide up Shechem. I will apportion the Valley of Succoth. Psalm 60:7 Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine, and Ephraim is my helmet; Judah is my scepter. Psalm 60:8 Moab is my washbasin. I throw my sandal on Edom; I shout in triumph over Philistia.”
washbasin and sandal
In this psalm, God celebrates the victory of his people over the nations they will conquer for him.
Our mission as Christians is not to conquer nations in this way, but to lead them to the Savior. But the same kind of thing is going on in God’s sanctuary as we speak. He has already claimed those nations that he sends us to. They are his washbasin, he claims ownership and authority over them by throwing his sandal on them.
When I was sent to the mission field, I had no doubt that lives would be changed as a result of my ministry, and that the kingdom of God would advance. It had nothing toi do with confidence in my ability. It had everything to do with my being sent by a sovereign God, who had already claimed the territory he sent me to.
Lord, thank you for knowing that you have already claimed those for yourself that you send us to.
Psalm 60:4 You have given a signal flag to those who fear you, so that they can flee before the archers. Selah. Psalm 60:5 Deliver with your right hand, and answer me, so that those you love may be rescued.
A signal flag is not the same thing as a rescue, but it is comforting. It assures the army that there is someone who sees the big picture, knows where the enemy is, and wants to protect his people from them.
As we go about the business of the Christian mission, we should certainly keep up our prayers for deliverance. We should also keep our eye out for signal flags — ways that God warns us of areas of danger. Because God wants to protect us, the flags will be there.
Psalm 60:1 God, you have rejected us; you have broken us down; you have been angry. Restore us!
Psalm 60:2 You have shaken the land and split it open. Heal its fissures, because it shudders.
Psalm 60:3 You have made your people suffer hardship; you have given us wine to drink that made us stagger.
problem, solution, praise
This text is part of a victory prayer, but it does not sound very victorious. What the psalmist is doing is establishing the framework for his confidence in a turn-around. His confidence is this: God has judged his people, he can restore them.
You and I need to come to this point in our prayer lives as well. We have to stop thinking of the challenges and hardships of our lives as things that don’t belong in the picture. The fact is, God is sovereign, and nothing can touch us without his permission.
We don’t strive in prayer to get God to move. He has already moved, and it has resulted in our recognition of our need for his deliverance. The cycle of prayer that ends in praise begins with a problem.
Lord, open our eyes to see your sovereign hand at work.
Psalm 59:16 But I will sing of your strength and will joyfully proclaim your covenant faithfulness in the morning, because you have been a stronghold for me, a refuge in my day of trouble.
Psalm 59:17 To you, my strength, I sing praises, because God is my stronghold – my faithful God.
Days of trouble are not what distinguishes Christians from non-Christians. Both have days of trouble. Our Adversary the devil likes to taunt us when we experience those days of trouble. But everyone experiences them. The difference for the Christian is the mornings after the days of trouble. Peace reigns in our hearts during the days of trouble, and praising God for his faithful protection is what we do afterwards.
Psalm 59:14 And they return at evening, in uproar like dogs and prowling around the city.
Psalm 59:15 They scavenge for food; they growl if they are not satisfied.
wild city dogs
I used to keep a box of rocks at my doorstep. When I lived in an Asian city, a pack of wild dogs would come barking, growling and causing uproar every night. I kept the rocks handy to discourage them from staying near my house and disturbing my sleep. It didn’t work so well, because I still had to get up to throw the rocks.
Apparently the psalmist knew about this problem, and he told God that his enemies were acting like wild city dogs.
Psalm 59:11 Do not kill them; otherwise, my people will forget. By your power, make them homeless wanderers and bring them down, Lord, our shield.
Psalm 59:12 Due to the sin of their mouths and the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride. They utter curses and lies.
Psalm 59:13 Consume them in rage; consume them until they are gone. Then people will know throughout the land that God rules over Jacob. Selah
examples, not victims
David did not want God to kill his enemies. He wanted God to make them examples to the people. He wanted his enemies to get caught in their own pride, brought down, and consumed until they are gone. He was asking God to deal with them according to the covenant. He was essentially asking God to be faithful to his own threats.
That is all we need to ask as well. When we are threatened by adversaries or circumstances which we cannot control, all we need to do is ask God to turn our situation according to his purpose. He can neutralize the threat without us.
Psalm 59:8 But you laugh at them, Yahveh; you ridicule all the nations. Psalm 59:9 I will keep watch for you, my strength, because God is my stronghold. Psalm 59:10 My faithful God will come to meet me; God will help me to look down on my adversaries.
What we consider cry-able, God considers laughable. He has a different perspective on the dangers that are very real to us. What we need to keep in mind is that our God is just as real as the dangers we face. In fact, he is even more real because he will outlast them all.
Lord, we come to you because you are greater than what threatens us.
Psalm 59:6 They return at evening, in uproar like dogs and prowling around the city.
Psalm 59:7 Notice, they spew from their mouths – sharp words from their lips. “Because who,” they say, “is listening?”
David’s enemies thought they could say what they wanted to say to tear him down and seek his destruction because no one was listening — nobody cared. They could not be more wrong. God cares, and he is always listening.
The tongue can tear a heart out. Watch what you say because it can destroy others. Even when they do not appear to have meant anything, your words can dig deep inside and hurt and unsettle the ones you speak to. And your judge is listening.
Psalm 59:3 Because notice, Yahveh, they have set an ambush for me. Powerful men attack me, but not because of any failure or rebellion of mine.
Psalm 59:4 For no fault of mine, they run and take up a position. Awake to help me, and take notice.
Psalm 59:5 You, Yahveh God of Armies, are the God of Israel. Rise up to punish all the nations; do not show favor to any wicked traitors. Selah
not my fault
David would know failure and guilt and shame, but he also had times like this, when he did all the right things, and still experienced crisis and threat of death.
Likewise, we believers in Christ will have crisis moments, not tied to any sin or rebellion on our part, but simply because we are in Christ. These are times that test the quality of our commitment. In such times, we need only stretch out our hands and take hold of the lifeline Christ has prepared for us. He knows what it is like to suffer though innocent.