When You Are Ready to Throw in the Hotel-Room Towel



March 1, 2021

Psalm 60

To the tune of “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” C.M. Sing it at seedbed.com/soundtrack

1 O God, You have rejected us,
and scattered us abroad;
You have been very angry, but
return to us, O God.

2 For You have made the earth to quake,
and torn it open wide;
Now heal its fractures, for it shakes
and cannot long abide.

3 You’ve shown Your people desperate times,
and hardship on them sent;
And You have made us drink the wine
of staggering lament.

4 And yet a banner You have given
to those who do fear You;
That it may be displayed abroad,
and witness to Your truth.

5 Save us and help with Your right hand;
O hear and answer me;
That those You love may come to be
delivered and set free.

6 God spoke from Him most holy place,
“In triumph I will move;
I’ll parcel out both Shechem and
the Valley of Succoth.

7 Now Gilead is mine by right;
Manasseh mine shall be;
Now Ephraim’s my helmet;
Judah’s scepter is for me.

8 Moab’s my washbowl; and my shoe
on Edom I will throw;
I’ll shout over Philistia;
in triumph I will go.”

9 Who will bring me in strength up to
the city fortified?
And who will be the one that can
to Edom lead and guide?

10 O God, is it not You who did
reject and spurn us so?
Will You not now return, O God—
forth with our armies go?

11 O give us help against the foe,
for help from man is vain;
12 Through God we’ll gain the victory;
He’ll tread our foes again.


Some time ago, my family experienced the horrors of moving for the second time in one year. Hyperbole? Maybe. We relocated the first time from Kentucky to Tennessee. The second move took us from the outskirts of the city of Franklin to the heart of the community. Moving across town can be very deceptive. Something deep within tries to convince you that what took very large trucks to move you a few hundred miles will only take a few carloads to get across town. Big mistake. About halfway into the move, which took weeks instead of days because of this faulty approach, and after about the fifth night in the Embassy Suites, with seven of us crammed into one room, without clean socks, at the brink of civil war . . . we needed Song 60:

O God, You have rejected us,
and scattered us abroad;
You have been very angry, but
return to us, O God.

The details behind this psalm are somewhat complex, so here’s the bottom line. King David found himself fighting battles on multiple fronts. While he was off fighting one battle, another enemy made a sneak attack on Jerusalem. And if that weren’t enough, there was also an earthquake. The adage, “When it rains, it pours,” comes to mind.

It’s usually halfway into the job when things start to come unglued. You’ve come too far to turn back, but the obstacles seem too many to press on. It is in the mess of the middle that we must learn to sing the mixed melodies of hope and hopelessness. Song 60 shows the way.

Embracing uncertainty, we must sing both songs simultaneously. For example, today’s song begins by lamenting the Lord’s rejection, yet it ends with hopeful proclamation that “He’ll tread our foes again.”

It’s never neat, and songs like these refuse to try and wrap it all up in a bow. These melodies leave lots of frayed loose ends. Something about singing out this angst of ambiguity to God has a way of moving us forward, even if we remain stuck in hotel-room hell for another week.

Give it a shot. Try on this melody for size.

Ask Yourself. Share with Another.

Does today’s reading bring to mind any situation in your own life where hope is mingling with hopelessness? How about from your past? Think of others you know who are dealing with such contradictory confusion right now. Pray through Song 60 for them.

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt


Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.