Psalm 60 – For Vain Is The Salvation of Man

Psalm 60: 6-12

God has spoken in his holiness:

“With exultation I will divide up Shechem and portion out the Vale of Succoth.Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet; Judah is my scepter.Moab is my washbasin; upon Edom I cast my shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph.”

Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
Have you not rejected us, O God?
You do not go forth, O God, with our armies.
Oh, grant us help against the foe,
for vain is the salvation of man!
With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.

It’s interesting that David could write this 3,000 years ago and that it meant a very real thing to him then, while it also speaks about Christ and the reality we find ourselves in today. David was saying that he needed God to work, because their armies could not do it. He was saying “If we try to save ourselves, it won’t work. We can’t save ourselves, but God, you can!” God had promised the land, and victory, but David was not seeing it. What David did was appeal to God’s promises, and then came away confident in what God would do.

I think it’s neat, also, that we can see something else going on here – something about spiritual salvation which was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  And so in this way, he was writing about Christ.  Jesus said “For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.”  I think the wide gate and easy way was the “salvation of man” mentioned by David in Psalm 60. David knew that the salvation of man did not work – it is only vanity, and leads to destruction. That is why he called out for God to work. He knew that his army’s best efforts would not win anything unless God was the one who did it.

Jesus continues, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  This makes you wonder what that gate is, and what that way is. And we know Jesus also said “I AM the gate” and “I AM the way.” Jesus made a clear distinction between the way of the world – the broad, easy way that many will use and find destruction in, and the way of God – that narrow way which leads to life, which is Jesus himself.  In effect He’s saying that the “salvation of man” is vain. It is the wide gate. The easy way. But He is the salvation of God.

Fast forward 2000 years. I think it’s pretty easy to see, today, the truth of what David wrote. “Vain is the salvation of man.” What is the salvation of man in 2013 America? What do we think brings life? What is our way of salvation?  What is the wide gate?  What do we hope in apart from God?  Self, success, pleasure, power, money, sex and fame.  And when people get all this and think it will fulfill them, make them happy, and give them peace – does it?  No.  They are still empty inside after all that stuff passes right through the God shaped hole in their heart.  That hole so large only God can fill it.

Even Christians, to whom the salvation of God has been revealed, we still struggle with rejecting the salvation of man. It’s in front of our faces all the time, and the sin inside us still is drawn to it at times. When we sin we stop trusting God and take a grasp at the salvation of man, thinking it will satisfy.  We get tired of not being able to walk by sight and grasp at things we can see, but every time we do, they don’t fulfill.  We must come again to the place of faith in God and realize His way is the way of life.  We must remember what God has promised, and place our confidence in Him.  And what is that, if not an act of God’s grace itself?  For we know we could never have that faith if left to ourselves.  Left up to us, not only would we not have had faith in the first place, but at our first abandon into sin, we would never return. But He always brings us back. He always goes out to find his lost sheep, and we know his voice. He loves us beyond what we can understand.

So we, like David, know that God must save or no saving will happen.  We know that the way of the world is not the true Way.  We know it ends in destruction.  We know, but we often forget!  We know, but need help to remember. For we know we can’t do it ourselves, for “vain is the salvation of man.”

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