God makes many promises in the Bible. He promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (Gen. 15:5). Jesus promised that those who seek first His kingdom would have their needs met (Matt. 6:33). Paul assured the Philippians that if they presented their requests to God, “the peace of God...will guard your hearts and minds” (Phil. 4:7). What do we do when our experience does not line up with what God has promised?
The people of Israel had been promised by God that the land of Canaan would be given to them (Gen. 12:7). In today’s reading, Israel had suffered a military defeat. David states, “You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us; you have been angry—now restore us!” (60:1). The promise of the land was under threat. What did David do? He clearly describes the problem to God. “You have shaken the land and torn it open...You have shown your people desperate times” (vv. 2–3). Then in poetic language, David reminds God of His promise regarding the land: “God has spoken from his sanctuary: ‘In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth’ ” (v. 6). David asks God for help, “Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered” (v. 5).
Finally, David restates his trust in God. He confesses that “human help is worthless” and “with God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies” (vv. 11–12). David knows that his temporary failure doesn’t mean that God’s promises had failed. He trusts that God will be able to make things right.
>> Psalm 60 provides us with a model of how to relate to God in times when His promises seem unfulfilled. We can be honest with God and claim His promises. We can remind ourselves that we do not fully understand what God is doing and reaffirm our trust in Him.