Do me a favor and please read Psalm 60.
In our text today we see that David has given us a teaching psalm based on his military battles over the Syrians at the Valley of Salt (2 Sam 8:13). This psalm simply states that it was “thousands” but we see from 2 Samuel 8:13 that it was 18,000…and David became famous for it. This, to them, was a “victory” and one to be praised about.
But what 2 Samuel DOES NOT TELL US and Psalm 60 does is that there is a loss for them too. And while we may not know the extent of the physical loss of life and/or injuries taken, we get this feeling that the emotional toll was devastating. This psalm reflects that while David praises God (verses 9-12) the other 8 verses consist of a sad lament (verses 1-3) and a plea of salvation (4-8). That means 2/3’s of this psalm is David in distress.
This psalm opens up to us just what exactly David was seeing and experiencing as he was in battle. So just as there are these 3 different types of prayer so too we get invited to see that three different waves of emotions that befell him.
Seeing his troops over-run, David would have felt rejected by God in this moment. Knowing and declaring, however, that God is in the victories as well as the losses…the opening verses reflect that the people would have been lamenting that they DID something against to make God angry with them… thus they are being overtaken by their enemies. And so in this moment of watching his men die and possibly calling them to retreat and fall back to stave the wave of the army of Edomites before they are over-run, David acknowledges the sin of him and his people.
But it is also in this moment that David declares that his relationship with God is still solid (verses 4-8). That in this moment of near battle-loss, David reaches out to God to save them. That God will raise his banner, unite his warriors, encourage them and lead them on by raising His banner and leading them to victory. And that all the loot and land taken…will be done by, and at, the hands of God.
The final wave (verses 9-12) is simply the battle victory cry. Think of it as a “It’s now or never!” shout as the army of God digs in and begins to advance against the enemies. It’s a reminder that God is not only their hope and victory, but he is also their strength and only ability to stand.
What this ALL MEANS is that God’s hand is not only in the victories and losses…but everywhere else too.
This psalm is wrought with imagery that reflects exactly how God is at work. We have images of the land moving and being healed as well as images of what too much wine does to a person and how that affects their ability to function. We have this understanding of banners being waved in war and the emotional toll that takes on not only the army that holds them but the foe that sees them too. Land and places listed that were given to the people of God, military gear worn during battle, as well as sandals, a washbasin, and scepter. All of these would have been images that made perfect sense to David and his people. All of these listed with the understanding that these were given to them not by what THEY had done – but what God has done.
What this psalm does for you and I is reflect on just how intimately God is involved in our lives too. From the smallest of things to the grandiose of the day – all of them reflect God’s hand in our lives. From the beginning of time God has walked and talked with his people and expressed his desires for them. From the beginning of our time after the Fall we also see how God was working to move and secure, restore and bring hope to his people. That it was what God had done to lead and guide his people and encourage and uplift them. And throughout all of it…throughout all the human interactions and relationship break-downs with God he’s always asked for one simple thing: a relationship with him. And regardless of our acknowledgement of him…he’s still at work. It’s what we call the “providence” (or the workings of God’s hand in all of creation) of God. That regardless of our consistent work against him – it never stopped him from asking his son, Jesus Christ, to enter into our lives and help overcome the enemy.
And while this psalm teaches us that God is in all things…David’s words also convict us to reflect on God’s work in OUR lives AND THEN TO GIVE THANKS FOR IT. From the little to the large…give thanks and find, and declare, that hope is in God and God alone. Simply put, find a reason to praise God.
It’s not hard…his fingerprints are all over your day.
I get it – it can be really hard to worship God when you just lost your job, when your loved one is dying, when you’re mourning the loss of a friend or your family is going through a divorce. Those are really really tough times to “give thanks” – but even in those dark times we believe, and affirm, that God is not only present but his will is still at work. That this dark and lonely place is not where we end up nor is it where God wants us to be. IF it had…then he never would have sent Christ or the Holy Spirit. The “providence of God” reminds is that hope is still before us, light is still breaking through the darkness, and that nothing on earth nor princes nor principalities or evil and darkness will be able to undo that which God does. It is not darkness that puts out light…but light that breaks forth and cuts the darkness.
So praise God – in all times and all situations – for He is in all things. Praise Him.