Just as there was evening and morning in the days of creation, there are periods in one’s life where there is joyous sunshine followed by difficult darkness. Psalm 60 was written during some of David’s dark days. “O God, You have cast us off; You have broken us down; You have been displeased; oh, restore us again! You have made the earth tremble; You have broken it; heal its breaches, for it is shaking. You have shown Your people hard things; You have made us drink the wine of confusion” (vv. 1-3).
According to the superscription, David intended for this psalm to be a Michtam—a composition of instruction. He was not simply baring his soul to God because of the pain he felt, he was also seeking to instruct those who read it. There is much to learn from this psalm about how a proper functioning—i.e. a living—hope operates in your life, especially during days of difficulty, darkness, and defeat.
Consider the following features found in this psalm about a living hope:
- A living hope does not deny reality. Hope is not some stick-your-head-in-the-sand, pretend that nothing is wrong, keep a stiff upper lip form of Stoicism. David was hurting. He was discouraged. God had cast him and his army off (v. 1); they had seen hard things and had drunk the wine of confusion (v. 3). Morale was low; discouragement was high. Hope does not paint rose-colored lipstick on a pig.
- A living hope repels doubt in God’s ability to deliver, to save with His right hand; it tenaciously trusts God’s ability to hear and answer prayer. “That Your beloved may be delivered, save with Your right hand, and hear me” (v. 5).
- A living hope insists upon an enduring faith in God’s Word, especially His promises. “God has spoken in His holiness…” (v. 6). David had to choose between walking by sight and putting his confidence in his circumstances or walking by faith and putting his confidence in God’s Word. No one can walk by sight and by faith at the same time. He can wallow in self-pity and despair or tighten up his helmet of hope and persevere.
- A living hope does not allow one’s circumstances to eclipse his faith in God. “Who will bring me to the strong city? Who will lead me to Edom? Is it not You, O God, who cast us off? And You, O God, who did not go out with our armies? Give us help from trouble for the help of man is useless. Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies” (vv. 9-12).
Biblical hope is not a spiritual good luck charm that you tuck in the front of your Bible; it is a living—or lively—thing that is actively, deliberately, purposefully, vigorously used to protect your mind when Satan’s ambushes descend and his landmines erupt. Psalm 60 teaches how a living hope functions when the principalities and powers and rulers of the darkness of this age and the spiritual host of wickedness in the heavenly places invade your life and seek to destroy your faith.