David is here rejoicing in hope and praying in hope; such are the triumphs of the saints, not so much upon the account of what they have in possession as of what they have in prospect (Ps. 60:6): “God has spoken in his holiness (that is, he has given me his word of promise, has sworn by his holiness, and he will not lie unto David, Ps. 89:35), therefore I will rejoice, and please myself with the hopes of the performance of the promise, which was intended for more than a pleasing promise,” Note, God’s word of promise, being a firm foundation of hope, is a full fountain of joy to all believers.
I. David here rejoices; and it is in prospect of two things:—
1. The perfecting of this revolution in his own kingdom. God having spoken in his holiness that David shall be king, he doubts not but the kingdom is all his own, as sure as if it were already in his hand: I will divide Shechem (a pleasant city in Mount Ephraim) and mete out the valley of Succoth, as my own. Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine, and both are entirely reduced, Ps. 60:7. Ephraim would furnish him with soldiers for his life-guards and his standing forces; Judah would furnish him with able judges for his courts of justice; and thus Ephraim would be the strength of his head and Judah his lawgiver. Thus may an active believer triumph in the promises, and take the comfort of all the good contained in them; for they are all yea and amen in Christ. “God has spoken in his holiness, and then pardon is mine, peace mine, grace mine, Christ mine, heaven mine, God himself mine.” All is yours, for you are Christ’s, 1 Cor. 3:22, 23.
2. The conquering of the neighbouring nations, which had been vexatious to Israel, were still dangerous, and opposed the throne of David, Ps. 60:8. Moab shall be enslaved, and put to the meanest drudgery. The Moabites became David’s servants, 2 Sam. 8:2. Edom shall be made a dunghill to throw old shoes upon; at least David shall take possession of it as his own, which was signified by drawing off his shoe over it, Ruth 4:7. As for the Philistines, let them, if they dare, triumph over him as they had done; he will soon force them to change their note. Rather let those that know their own interest triumph because of him; for it would be the greatest kindness imaginable to them to be brought into subjection to David and communion with Israel. But the war is not yet brought to an end; there is a strong city, Rabbah (perhaps) of the children of Ammon, which yet holds out; Edom is not yet subdued. Now, (1.) David is here enquiring for help to carry on the ark: “Who will bring me into the strong city? What allies, what auxiliaries, can I depend upon, to make me master of the enemies’ country and their strongholds?” Those that have begun a good work cannot but desire to make a thorough work of it, and to bring it to perfection. (2.) He is expecting it from God only: “Wilt not thou, O God? For thou hast spoken in thy holiness; and wilt not thou be as good as thy word?” He takes notice of the frowns of Providence they had been under: Thou hadst, in appearance, cast us off; thou didst not go forth with our armies. When they were defeated and met with disappointments, they owned it was because they wanted (that is, because they had forfeited) the gracious presence of God with them; yet they do not therefore fly off from him, but rather take so much the faster hold of him; and the less he has done for them of late the more they hoped he would do. At the same time that they own God’s justice in what was past they hope in his mercy for what was to come: “Though thou hadst cast us off, yet thou wilt not contend for ever, thou wilt not always chide; though thou hadst cast us off, yet thou hast begun to show mercy; and wilt thou not perfect what thou hast begun?” The Son of David, in his sufferings, seemed to be cast off by his Father when he cried out, Why hast thou forsaken me? and yet even then he obtained a glorious victory over the powers of darkness and their strong city, a victory which will undoubtedly be completed at last; for he has gone forth conquering and to conquer. The Israel of God, his spiritual Israel, are likewise, through him, more than conquerors. Though sometimes they may be tempted to think that God has cast them off, and may be foiled in particular conflicts, yet God will bring them into the strong city at last. Vincimur in praelio, sed non in bello—We are foiled in a battle, but not in the whole war. A lively faith in the promise will assure us, not only that the God of peace shall tread Satan under our feet shortly, but that it is our Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.
II. He prays in hope. His prayer is, Give us help from trouble, Ps. 60:11. Even in the day of their triumph they see themselves in trouble, because still in war, which is troublesome even to the prevailing side. None therefore can delight in war but those that love to fish in troubled waters. The help from trouble they pray for is preservation from those they were at war with. Though now they were conquerors, yet (so uncertain are the issues of war), unless God gave them help in the next engagement, they might be defeated; therefore, Lord, send us help from the sanctuary. Help from trouble is rest from war, which they prayed for, as those that contended for equity, not for victory. Sic quaerimus pacem—Thus we seek for peace. The hope with which they support themselves in this prayer has two things in it:—1. A diffidence of themselves and all their creature-confidences: Vain is the help of man. Then only we are qualified to receive help from God when we are brought to own the insufficiency of all creatures to do that for us which we expect him to do. 2. A confidence in God, and in his power and promise (Ps. 60:12): “Through God we shall do valiantly, and so we shall do victoriously; for he it is, and he only, that shall tread down our enemies, and shall have the praise of doing it.” Note, (1.) Our confidence in God must be so far from superseding that it must encourage and quicken our endeavours in the way of our duty. Though it is God that performs all things for us, yet there is something to be done by us. (2.) Hope in God is the best principle of true courage. Those that do their duty under his conduct may afford to do it valiantly; for what need those fear who have God on their side? (3.) It is only through God, and by the influence of his grace, that we do valiantly; it is he that puts strength into us, and inspires us, who of ourselves are weak and timorous, with courage and resolution. (4.) Though we do ever so valiantly, the success must be attributed entirely to him; for he it is that shall tread down our enemies, and not we ourselves. All our victories, as well as our valour, are from him, and therefore at his feet all our crown must be cast.