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60. Psalm 60

O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again.

2Thou hast made the earth to tremble; thou hast broken it: heal the breaches thereof; for it shaketh.

3Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.

4Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.

5That thy beloved may be delivered; save with thy right hand, and hear me.

6God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth.

7Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver;

8Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of me.

9Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?

10 Wilt not thou, O God, which hadst cast us off? and thou, O God, which didst not go out with our armies?

11Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.

12Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.

4 Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee. Some interpreters would change the past tense, and read the words as if they formed a continuation of the prayers which precede — O that thou wouldst give a banner to them that fear thee! 386386     Boothroyd gives a translation similar to this, and thinks that this is required by the connection. But see note 3, p. 397. But it is better to suppose that David diverges to the language of congratulation, and, by pointing to the change which had taken place, calls attention to the evident appearances of the divine favor. He returns thanks to God, in the name of all the people, for having raised a standard which might at once cheer their hearts, and unite their divided numbers. 387387     Hamer has given a very ingenious explanation of this passage, derived from the manners of the East. “It seems,” says he, “that the modern Eastern people have looked upon the giving them a banner as a more sure pledge of protection ‘than that given by words.’ So Albertus Aquensis tell us, that when Jerusalem was taken in 1099, about three hundred Saracens got upon the roof of a very lofty building, and earnestly begged for quarter, but could not be induced, by any promises of safety, to come down, until they had received the banner of Tancred [one of the chiefs of the Crusade army] as a pledge of life. It did not, indeed, avail them, as that historian observes; for their behavior occasioned such indignation that they were destroyed to a man. The event showed the faithlessness of these zealots, whom no solemnities could bind; but the Saracens surrendering themselves upon the delivery of a standard to them, proves in what a strong light they looked upon the giving them a banner; since it induced them to trust it when they would not trust any promises. Perhaps the delivery of a banner was anciently esteemed, in like manner, an obligation to protect, and the Psalmist might consider it in this light, when, upon a victory gained over the Syrians and Edomites, after the public affairs of Israel had been in a bad state, he says, ‘Thou hast showed thy people hard things, etc.; thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee.’ Though thou didst for a time give up thine Israel into the hands of their enemies, thou hast now given them an assurance of thy having received them under thy protection.” — Observations, volume 3, pp. 496, 497. Harmer supposes that our translation, which speaks of a banner displayed, is inaccurate; observing, that it is most probable that the Israelites anciently used only a spear, properly ornamented to distinguish it from a common one — a supposition which he founds on the fact, that a very long spear, covered all over with silver, and having a ball of gold on the top, was the standard of the Egyptian princes at the time of the Crusade wars, and was carried before their armies. He proposes to read, “Thou hast given an ensign or standard [נם, nes] to them that fear thee, that it may be lifted up.” But Parkhurst considers the radical meaning of the Hebrew word נם, nes, to be a banner or ensign, from its waving or streaming in the wind; in other words, a streamer See his Lexicon on נם. Mant’s explanation of the phrase is similar to that of Calvin. “In this place,” says he, “it may mean no more than that God had united his people under one head, and so enabled them to meet their enemies by repairing to the standard of their sovereign.” “The banner, or standard of an army,” says Walford, “is the object of constant attention to soldiers: so long as it is safe, and elevated, so long courage, hope, and energy, are maintained. The poet uses this symbol to express his hope that God Himself would be the source of their valor and success, in order that the truth, the promise made to David, might be accomplished.” It is a poor and meagre interpretation which some have attached to the words, before the truth, that God showed favor to the Jews because he had found them true-hearted, and sound in his cause. Those in the higher ranks had, as is well known, proved eminently disloyal; the common people had, along with their king, broken their divine allegiance: from the highest to the lowest in the kingdom all had conspired to overthrow the gracious purpose of God. It is evident, then, that David refers to the truth of God as having emerged in a signal manner, now that the Church began to be restored. This was an event which had not been expected. Indeed, who did not imagine, in the desperate circumstances, that God’s promises had altogether failed? But when David mounted the throne, his truth, which had been so long obscured, again shone forth. The advantage which ensued extended to the whole nation; but David intimates that God had a special respect to his own people, whose deliverance, however few they might be in number, he particularly contemplated.

He next proceeds to address God again in prayer; although, I may observe in passing, the words which follow, that thy beloved may be delivered, are read by some in connection with the preceding verse. I am myself inclined to adopt that construction; for David would seem to magnify the illustration which had been given of the divine favor, by adverting to the change which had taken place, 388388     The Latin is here concise — “Nam in ipsa varietate David magnitudinem gratiae commendat.” Accordingly, the French version amplifies the passage — “Car David en proposant la diversite et la changement d’un temps a l’autre magnifie,” etc. God having inspirited his people so far as to display a banner; where, formerly, they were reduced to a state of extremity, from which it seemed impossible to escape without a miracle. In the previous verse he calls them fearers of the Lord, and now his beloved; implying that, when God rewards such as fear and worship him, it is always with a respect to his own free love. And prayer is subjoined: for however great may be the favors which God has bestowed upon us, modesty and humility will teach us always to pray that he would perfect what his goodness has begun.

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