Today: [Psalm 60-61] Believing through Setbacks. The two psalms in our study today show us how David dealt with setback. David never pretended or tried to explain away difficult situations. Neither did he change his belief system to make excuses for unbelief. When faced with down turn and disappointment David exercised a very specific approach to walking himself through the difficult time with his faith intact and the outcome assured.
[Psa 60:1-12 KJV] 1 [[To the chief Musician upon Shushaneduth, Michtam of David, to teach; when he strove with Aramnaharaim and with Aramzobah, when Joab returned, and smote of Edom in the valley of salt twelve thousand.]] O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again. 2 Thou hast made the earth to tremble; thou hast broken it: heal the breaches thereof; for it shaketh. 3 Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment. 4 Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah. 5 That thy beloved may be delivered; save [with] thy right hand, and hear me. 6 God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth. 7 Gilead [is] mine, and Manasseh [is] mine; Ephraim also [is] the strength of mine head; Judah [is] my lawgiver; 8 Moab [is] my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of me. 9 Who 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? 11 Give us help from trouble: for vain [is] the help of man. 12 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he [it is that] shall tread down our enemies.
Psalm 60 and other psalms is referred to as a “Michtam of David”. The word “Michtam” means “Golden” and is believed to mean that this type of psalm is intended as a teaching by David set to music. It is described as a writing or type of psalm so precious that it was worthy of being inscribed in gold and memorialized on precious plaques of precious metals.
The heading also mentions military conquest by Joab but it is clearly written after a military defeat. It has been suggested that while David was engaged in the north of Palestine subjugating Damascus and the Syrians, the Edomites in the south, saw their opportunity and attacked Israel, inflicting a serious military defeat.
The military setback David refers to not only has a human impact but is also seen by David as a sign of God’s displeasure in some way. Verse 3 speaks of the wine of astonishment. David always expected and anticipated victory on every hand and it is amazing to him that it seems God allowed the armies of Israel to suffer such a setback.
There will be times you will suffer setbacks in life. David is an example to us of seeking out the presence of God when we are confused by circumstances. Hebrews 12:3 tells us that even Jesus suffered “the contradiction of sinners” against Himself. In every life there can be measured a contradiction between God’s promise and your experience. Many times we handle these as an opportunity to theologically explain away God’s promise as though God promises but cannot be relied on to stand behind His own word. In other words when we go through something the first response of a modern thinker is to question God before questioning themselves. David does exactly the opposite. Whether it is true or not David questions himself before questioning the faithfulness of God.
In verses 4-8 David recounts and declares the promises of God that Israel would subdue the nations around them. In spite of a military defeat he stands resolutely declaring that God is the banner of Israel and they are putting Him in remembrance. When you are in setback REMIND God of His promise. This is preferable to giving in to fear and unbelief or murmuring. In verse 9-10 David is referring to being defeated by the Edomites and asks the rhetorical question “who will give us victory over Edom – if not you O God?” In other words David is saying “God if we can’t trust in you – who can we trust in?” He is setting up the challenge to his own temptation to unbelief and standing firm in his faith that the situation isn’t over and victory will ultimately be assured.
In verse 11 David in plain unembellished language asks God for His help in the aftermath of defeat. David isn’t giving up. He states that looking to man for help is a vain effort. Most nations after being defeated would call upon a local ally to go back and over run the Edomites. David has no such intention. He fully expects that God will come through for him even though they have had a difficult outcome previously. Don’t give up. Be patient. Keep believing. That is the lesson of Psalm 60. Finally in verse 12 after lodging his complaint, making a plain and humble petition David makes a faith statement. Through God they will “do valiantly”. David believes that though a stinging defeat has been inflicted they will nonetheless go back into the battle and tread down the enemies that had so soundly turned them back previously.
[Psa 61:1-8 KJV] 1 [[To the chief Musician upon Neginah, [A Psalm] of David.]] Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock [that] is higher than I. 3 For thou hast been a shelter for me, [and] a strong tower from the enemy. 4 I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah. 5 For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given [me] the heritage of those that fear thy name. 6 Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: [and] his years as many generations. 7 He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, [which] may preserve him. 8 So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.
Psalm 61 is a psalm of trust and prayer from the heart of David. He is speaking from a position of being overwhelmed. There are times when you have had all you can take and just want to escape, run away and hide. David feels helpless and looks to God who is his rock. When you are overcome and don’t feel you can go on in a situation let your prayer be the prayer of David “lead me to the Rock that is higher than I”.
In verse 2 David looks back and reminds God that in the past He has always been a shelter and a strong tower that protected him from every enemy. When you are under maximum pressure, go to God in prayer and remind yourself and remind God that you haven’t forgotten previous victories. We put our trust in the Lord but we also put our trust and base our faith on contemporary testimonies of God’s faithfulness in recent events throughout our lifetime. In verse 3 David reviews the faithfulness of God in the past and in verse 4 he looks to the future and expects nothing less. In effect David is saying “God you have been faithful to me in past situations and I know this thing I am going through now will be no different.
In verse 5 David clears up any doubt as to whether or not he thinks God has heard his prayers. There are times when we pray that it seems our petitions fall inert at our feet. Whether we feel like God has heard us or not know that He has taken notice of your concerns that you bring to Him in prayer. You will not be neglected. God is not ignoring you. In verses 6 and 7 David predicts, rather declares by faith what is going to happen next. Always be predictive in your prayers. David is under threat of his life but he declares he will have a long life and prosper upon the throne. He expects that the mercy and truth of God will preserve him and bring him through the present distress. Always vocalize your faith more than your fears. Make known out of your mouth your trust in God through adverse situations. God came through for David – He will come through for you.
Finally after lodging his complaint, making his petition, declaring his faith David now breaks into song. What is David doing? He is walking himself into breakthrough in his own mind. He is dealing with unbelief and fear. He is setting the expectations in his own thinking about what will happen next and compelling himself to base his emotional response on what he believes God is about to do in his behalf. He is taking responsibility for his own heart’s condition. When you are afraid and exhausted don’t wait for someone to come along and encourage you. Encourage yourself even as David does in this psalm. David’s outcome was victory and blessing. Yours will be no different.
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