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Verses of Psalms 60

Psalms 60 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

According to the title this Psalm refers to an event in the wars of David, “when he was contending with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and Joab returned, and smote of Edom in the Valley of Salt twelve thousand.” David’s conquest of Edom is recorded in 2Sa 8:13 f, but (see note on the passage in this series) the text of 2Sa 8:13 is certainly corrupt, and we should probably read, “And David gat him a name when he returned from smiting the Syrians and smote of Edom in the Valley of Salt eighteen thousand.” It has been most plausibly conjectured (see Ewald, Hist. iii. 156, E.T.) that while David was fully occupied in the north with the Syrian war, the Edomites seized the opportunity for invading the south of Judah, and inflicted serious damage. Had their plans been entirely successful, David’s victories in the north would have been rendered useless. It was a critical moment; but David promptly detached a force, which routed the Edomites with great slaughter in the Valley of Salt. This was the valley to the south of the Dead Sea, which was the ancient border between Judah and Edom, and was the scene of another victory over Edom in the reign of Amaziah (2Ki 14:7). The victory was followed up by the complete subjugation of the country. From an incidental notice in 1Ki 11:15-16 we learn that the war was pursued with relentless severity. The signal vengeance which was taken upon Edom is more readily intelligible if the Edomites had attempted to use the opportunity of David’s absence for striking a deadly blow at Judah. The phrase “gat him a name” (i.e. won renown) in 2Sa 8:13 may refer to the admiration excited by the skill and promptitude with which David met the sudden danger to his kingdom.

The Psalm may be supposed to have been written at the moment when David received the news of the defeat inflicted by Edom, and was despatching Joab to repel the invaders. It was an anxious crisis; for it must have seemed doubtful whether these reverses in the south would not compel him to abandon his conquests in the north, and might not even endanger the safety of the kingdom.

That the victory over Edom is attributed to David is 2 Sam., to Abishai in 1Ch 18:12, and to Joab in the title of the Psalm, need cause no difficulty. David was concerned in it as king, and to his military genius may have been due the plan of the campaign and the promptitude of action; Joab was the commander-in-chief of the army; Abishai may have led the division which was sent forward in advance. The variation between twelve thousand here and eighteen thousand in 2 Sam. and 1 Chron. is probably due to a textual error.

Aram-naharaim, or Syria of the two Rivers, was probably not Mesopotamia, but the country between the Euphrates and Chaboras, or in the neighbourhood of these rivers. It is not mentioned in 2 Samuel 8, but in 2Sa 10:16, it is said that Hadadezer brought into the field the Syrians that were beyond the River (Euphrates), and in 1Ch 19:6 Aram-naharaim (A.V. Mesopotamia) is mentioned along with Zobah. The exact position of Zobah is uncertain: it seems to have been north-east of Damascus and south of Hamath, between the Orontes and the Euphrates.

The accuracy of the title has been questioned upon various grounds. It is not a valid argument against it that 2 Sam. does not mention such a disaster as that to which the Psalm refers. Reverses would not be recorded in the brief summary of David’s victories which is all that the history gives; and an invasion which for the moment seemed most alarming would fade into insignificance when the danger was past. The hypothesis of such an invasion certainly explains and connects the fragmentary notices in Samuel and Kings. Nor does the Psalm necessarily imply a prolonged period of disaster. An attack which imperilled the safety of the kingdom would quite account for the language of Psa 60:1 ff.

Numerous conjectures as to the occasion of the Psalm have been proposed by commentators who reject the title. Some would connect it with Amaziah’s war with Edom (2Ki 14:7). Not a few would bring it down to the Maccabaean times, chiefly on the ground of its relation to Psalms 44 in tone and language (cp. Psa 44:9 with Psa 60:10). But none of the occasions in that period with which it has been connected is really suitable, and it has already been shewn in the Introd. to Psalms 44 that the history of the formation of the Psalter makes it difficult to suppose that Maccabaean Psalms are included in the Elohistic collection. It may reasonably be maintained that the situation indicated in the title explains the Psalm more satisfactorily than any alternative which has been suggested.

The Psalm is to be sung to the melody known as Shushan-eduth, that is, The lily of testimony. Cp. the title of Psalms 80, set to Shoshannim-Eduth, and also those of Psalms 45, 69. It is intended for teaching, probably, like David’s elegy on Saul and Jonathan, to be committed to memory for recitation. Cp. Deu 31:22.

Psa 60:5-12 form the second part of the composite Psalms 108.

The Psalm may be divided into three stanzas as follows:

i. David expostulates with God for abandoning His people to disaster and defeat (Psa 60:1-4).

ii. He appeals to God’s promise to apportion the land to His people, and give them dominion over the neighbouring nations (Psa 60:5-8).

iii. Though God has for the time deserted His people it is He alone Who can help; and to Him David turns in confident assurance of victory (Psa 60:9-12).

Verses of Psalms 60

Consult other comments:

Psalms 60:0 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Psalms 60:0 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Psalms 60:0 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Psalms 60:0 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Psalms 60:0 - Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

Psalms 60:0 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Psalms 60:0 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Psalms 60:0 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Psalms 60:0 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges