God, Give Us Help!

Psalm 60

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 60


Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

Words marked with a *star are described in the word list at the end.

The translated Bible text has yet to go through Advanced Checking.


Jesus said, "How can you go into the house of a strong man and take his things? You must first tie him up and then you can take his things". (Matthew 12:29)

Psalm 60

  (This is) for the music leader.
(He must use) "A *Lily of the *Covenant".
(Psalm 60) is a *miktam of David.
It was to teach how:
   he fought armies in Mesopotamia
   he fought armies in Syria
   he sent Joab to Edom, where he killed 12 000 people in the Valley of Salt.

v1   (You have said) that you will not be our God any more
  and you have broken down our walls.
  Though you are angry, come back to us!

v2   You made the earth move and you tore it open.
  Mend its broken parts because it is falling to pieces.

v3   You showed hard things to your people.
  You made us drink wine that caused us to fall over.

v4   You lifted up a *banner for the people that fear you.
  They will fight for what is true.   *SELAH

v5   Give us help so that the friends that you love will be safe.
  Use your right hand to answer us!

v6 - v8   God did answer us from his *holy place! (He said):
    I will be the master
    I will make a parcel of Shechem
    I will measure the Valley of Succoth
    Gilead is mine
    Manasseh is mine
    Ephraim will cover my head
    Judah will *judge for me
    Moab is my bathroom
    Edom is where I will throw my shoes
    Philistia will be something for me to laugh at.

v9   Who will lead me into the strong city?
  Who will take me in to Edom?

v10   (You have said) that you would not be our God any more.
  But God, will you really not go with our armies?

v11   Give to us help against the enemy,
  because help from men is of no value!

v12   With God we will beat everybody
  and walk all over our enemies.

The Story of Psalm 60

Psalm 60 is a *miktam. A *miktam is either something made of gold, or special teaching or something hidden. Bible students think that there is a story hidden in Psalm 60.

David was at *war. He was a long way from home, near the River Euphrates. That means that he was in Babylon. The old name was Mesopotamia and the modern name is Iraq. 2 Samuel 8:3 tells us where he was. On the way home he fought the Syrians. While this was happening an old enemy of Israel called Edom attacked Jerusalem. David sent one of his soldiers with part of the army to fight the Edomites. They beat them and killed 12 000 of them. This happened in the Valley of Salt, near the Dead Sea.

David wrote the psalm because he thought that God had left him and his people. That is what David thought that the attack by Edom meant. The Edomites must have broken the walls of some of the towns in Israel. But something else must have happened as well. Verse 2 sounds *like an earthquake. This is when the ground moves, and trees and buildings fall over. There are holes in the ground, and animals and people fall into them. All this was hard for David and his people to understand. Why did God let it happen? They felt as if they were drunk after drinking wine! Wine is a drink with alcohol in it. We still have earthquakes today.

We still do not know why this happened. The psalm does not tell us. But it does tell us that God did answer David and his people and he did give them help.

And what was "the *Lily of the Covenant"? A lily is a very pretty flower. A *covenant is what people have when they agree together. Bible students explain "the *Lily of the Covenant" in two ways. Either it is the name of a piece of music that they could sing the words to. Or it is the name of a *musical instrument that they could use to make music while they sang.

The word *SELAH is another problem. It probably means a place for thinking about the words, or praying, or listening to music. When we say or sing the psalms today we do not stop at *SELAH: maybe we ought to! But when we study the psalms, we must think about the words, and pray about them. Even when we do not understand them well, God can and does still speak to us through them. If he does, then the psalm will be as gold to us, because Godís words are still of very great value.

What Psalm 60 means

The psalm is in three parts. Verses 1 - 5 are the words of David. He asks God for an answer. Verses 6 - 8 are Godís answer. Verses 9 - 12 are again the words of David. Remember that the words before verse 1 are also part of the psalm. When the Jews say Psalm 60 in their *synagogues they always say the words at the top also. A *synagogue is where Jews meet, *like a Christian church. Above explains some of the verses. Here we try to explain some of the other difficult parts.

Verse 1: Though the Edomites broke the walls, the Jews decided that God had sent them to do it. Edom was a country south-east of Jerusalem.

Verse 3: It was hard because they did not know why they were in trouble. When this happens to us, we must still ask God for help, as David did in verses 5 and 11.

Verse 4: A *banner is a large piece of material with words or pictures on it. Soldiers would gather under their *banner so that they would all be together. This verse is difficult for Bible students to understand. We are not sure what it means.

Verse 5: The right hand of God is how the Israelites described God doing something on earth.

Verses 6 Ė 8: The *holy place is where God is. Perhaps it meant the *temple in Jerusalem, or Godís home in *heaven. The first 6 places are all parts of Israel. They all belong to God. He will decide what to do with them. They will have important jobs, *like Ephraim and Judah. "Cover my head" probably means "be *like a soldier" and "judge" means "decide what to do". Moab, Edom and Philistia were all enemies of Israel. They also belong to God, but they will have dirty jobs to do. God sees himself as a man. He needs somewhere to wash, and someone to pick his clothes up for him. Israel has the good things to do, but her enemies have bad things to do.

Verse 9: David is the speaker again. The strong city was the capital of Edom, Petra. David put Joab as leader of the army that went to fight Edom. David stayed with the other part of the army in Syria.

Verse 10: "Will you really not go with our armies?" means "I do hope that you WILL go with our armies".

Verse 11: David learned a lesson that we must all learn. "Help from men is of no value". It is of value if God sends the men or women to give help, but God must send them. God works through men and women to help his people. In the words of verse 5, he uses his right hand to answer us. His right hand could be anybody!

Verse 12: "Walk all over our enemies" is "trample over our enemies" in Hebrew. "Trample" means putting our feet down hard when we walk.

Something to do

Learn to say Psalm 60:11 by heart. (By heart means that you can say it without looking at the words.)

Word list

banner ~ pieces of cloth or paper with writing on it and sticks at each end (so people can hold it up high).

covenant ~ when two people agree they make a covenant.

heaven ~ the home of God.

holy ~ very very good; only God is really holy (because he always obeys his rules); Jerusalem was holy because people *worshipped God there.

judge ~ (noun, or being something) someone that decides.

judge ~ (verb, or doing something) decide if someone did right or wrong.

like ~ another word for "as".

lily ~ a beautiful flower.

miktam ~ maybe it means one of: something made from gold, something hidden, something with special meaning.

musical instruments ~ something that you make music with.

nation ~ a group of people (or a country) with a government.

SELAH ~ a word often used in the psalms; we do not know what it means, probably stop and think, or pray, or make music.

synagogue ~ a Jewish meeting (*like a church).

temple ~ a special building where people *worship God.

war ~ people (or *nations) fighting each other.

worship~ say that someone is very wonderful.


© 2000-2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words)

July 2001

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