Wouldn’t it be wonderful if life was only filled with the “highs” of life and never the lows? But as C. S. Lewis once said, “the Christian life consists of peaks and troughs.” He said, “When we are on the peaks, it is important to remember that the troughs are coming.”
As we read this psalm, we find David in one of those troughs. David came to the throne facing a divided nation and difficult times. We can see from the title of this psalm that David and Israel have been fighting battles on many fronts. While David was fighting in the north, the Edomites attacked in the south. At some point in it all, David and Israel have experienced some type of defeat. As the case often is, we are good when victory comes, but get so discouraged when the battles are raging, and we feel the sting of defeat. Psalm 60 records the frustration David was feeling. It is the same kind of frustration we often feel when it seems that everywhere we turn we face struggle after struggle, battle after battle, disappointment after disappointment, and problem after problem. It’s easy to rejoice when things are well and when things are running smoothly. But it’s so difficult to understand it all when things are tough, when problems face us, and when burdens overwhelm us. David is dealing with one of life’s hard times.
In the first few verses, I see the weariness of the soldier. In verses 1-5, David expresses his feelings to God. He wonders if God has cast them all aside, vs 1. He wonders if somehow God is displeased with them and that’s the reason behind the problems. In verse 2 He feels that his world is all messed up. He says God has shown them hard things in verse 3. The word “hard” means trying things or things hard to deal with and understand. It is to the point that it has made him to stagger like someone who has drunk wine.
In verses 4-5, David is saying, “Lord, we’ve carried your banner into the fight, but now we’ve suffered setbacks and hard times.” That is often so hard to understand, isn’t it? When you’ve lived right, walked right, done right, and tried your best to honor the Lord, but then you fight battle after battle. In our hearts, we know that all things work together for good, but in our minds, we struggle to understand how some things can be that way. We feel we deserve better than what we’ve been given in this life, and we wonder why God has allowed it to happen to us. We all, just like David, get weary at times of all of the hard things given to us in this life.
As we continue, I see the watching of the Sovereign. David reveals what God expressed to him, vs 6-8. The response of the Lord on the surface seems quite strange, does it not? Read those verses over again slowly. What I’m seeing here is that God doesn’t explain anything to David. He doesn’t tell him why the events have happened as they have, but what He does do is He reminds David of His sovereignty. He said, “Look at the tribes and peoples that surround you. I am the one that established the boundaries of Shechem and gave the allotment of land to the valley of Succoth. Gilead and Manasseh are mine. Ephraim, Judah, Moab, and Edom are simply instruments in my hand.” (Jerry Rankin, In the Secret Place; Nashville: B&H Books, 2009).
When the psalmist says that God hath spoken in his holiness he is referring to the awesome majesty of God. Then God says that He will divide and mete out, vs 6, which is that God sets the limits and God measures out everything. He is saying that all these nations are in His hands. The Lord uses an unusual phrase to us in vs 8 when He says, over Edom will I cast out my shoe. That is a phrase of ownership. The Lord says that He can raise them up and He can put them down. He can give victory or allow defeat and it all works out for His glory. We need to realize that God doesn’t owe us explanations of why victories, as well as defeats, come, but He deserves our trust and obedience.
Our problems seem quite small when we lay them beside God’s control over all the nations. It’s hard to understand why God allows things that are hard to come into our lives, but it never ever changes the fact that He is still God and still in control of all things. We’re often confused over the events of our lives, but God never is. He knows what He’s doing always and though we may not understand His purpose or plan, He has one. He isn’t just in charge when things are running smoothly, but He is just as much in charge when times are trying, and difficulties are abounding in our lives. Defeats come, delays come, and denials even come in our lives, but He is still the sovereign Lord of glory in control of it all.
Finally, we see the waiting of the Servant. David closes with vs 9-12 by declaring that his help is all in the Lord’s hands. There is a sense of submission here; a sense of realizing that the One who controls it all is the only One who can truly help. Who will bring us into the cities? Who can help us face and fight the battles of life? Vain, he says, is the help of men. Why is the help of men vain or of little value? Because men are limited in their ability. Men are limited in their ingenuity, but not God.
I don’t have any right to wave my finger at God and say, “How could you let this happen to me and you know, I deserve better than this.” Honestly, I don’t deserve better than anything whatsoever. What I deserve is to be in hell today, but God is merciful, gracious, and kind to all of us. The Lord is almighty, and He has perfect wisdom. If we have any help to fight the battles and face the struggles of life, it will come from the Lord. Instead of focusing on our losses and our struggles, focus on God’s blessings and greatness. With Him by our side, we can carry the banner high and keep pressing onward for Him. Burdens do get heavy, and we do get weary, but our God is faithful in every situation of life.
We don’t live in a perfect world or situation, but we serve one who is perfect in every aspect. Though we may not always understand why such hard things come our way, we can trust Him to do what is best in our lives. There will come a day when the smoke clears from the battlefield; when the final battle is fought, and the victory has been won. Till that time comes, we have to keep in mind that the Lord is in control. Oswald Chambers wrote in the classic ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ these words – “I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him.”
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