The superscript of Psalm 60 assigns this psalm to 2 Samuel 8:3-14 and 1 Chronicles 18:1-13 when David moved north into Mesopotamia (Aram-Naharaim) and marched up to the Euphrates River
(2 Samuel 8:3). Aram-Zobah is on the east side of the mountains of Lebanon.
When David and his troops returned to Jerusalem from this northern campaign they found Edom had invaded the land of Judah from the south. This insurgence had occurred during the absence of David and his military while they were in the north.
According to Psalm 60, it appears that before David marched north for his campaign in Mesopotamia he had set up his defenses in Judah, and entrusted the land and the city of Jerusalem to God’s protection. But, Edom used David’s absence as an opportunity to invade Judah. The psalmist in Psalm 60 considers Edom’s military success against Judah as an indication that God was displeased with Israel, for he writes in 60:1-4:
“You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us;
you have been angry—now restore us!
You have shaken the land and torn it open;
mend its fractures, for it is quaking.
You have shown your people desperate times;
you have given us wine that makes us stagger.
But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner
to be unfurled against the bow.”
This portion of questioning, complaining and accepting God’s discipline ends with SELAH for a time of meditation and reflection, before the writer burst into a petition for help and receives an oracle from God reclaiming his territory.
Verses 60:6-8 record the oracle from the Lord in response to the intercession of 60:5. The Lord announces that he will help David against Edom and intends to reclaim his good land and disregard the lands of Edom and Moab while triumphing over Philistia.
- “I will parcel out Shechem” (60:6), which is the laying out of ones property for development. Shechem is in the center of Israel on the west side of the Jordan.
- “I will measure off the Valley of Succoth” (60:6), likewise, Succoth is in the heart of Israel territory on the eastside of the Jordan. This land will be measured off, the first steps an owner takes when preparing to make plans and use their property.
- “Gilead is mine” (60:7), not only the west side and east side of the Jordan (Shechem and Succoth), but also the land to the north on the east side is claimed by God
- “Ephraim is my helmet” (60:7), God’s claim to this land will be defended militarily.
- “Judah my scepter” (60:7), God plans to rule the land through the tribe of Judah.
But, concerning the surrounding foreign lands:
- “Moab is my wash basin,” which is where a person’s feet are washed by a servant.
- “I toss my sandal upon Edom,” which was a gesture of contempt that dismisses them as a threat and insults their culture.
- “I shout in triumph over Philistia” (60:8)
After the oracle from the Lord, the battle into Edom is announced in 60:9 and the question is asked by David:
“Who will bring me to (Edom’s) fortified city?
Who will lead me into Edom?”
The answer, of course, is God (60:10). With this oracle and confirmation 2 Samuel 8:13-14 was fulfilled by General Joab (see subscript Psalm 60) and his brother Abishai (see 1 Chronicles 18:12-13) as Edom was driven back and subdued by David:
“And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.”