June 12th, 2021 - Psalm 55-59
Psalm 57 was written after David’s deliverance from Gath. See 1 Samuel 22. David fled for protection to the cave of Adullam and then later he fled to a cave in En Gedi. Better to be in a cave and in the will of God than in a palace and out of God’s will. The tune for this psalm, do not destroy, was also the tune used for psalms 58, 59, and 75. Most scholars agree that this psalm covers one day in the life of David the fugitive. Verse 4 records David’s lying down and verse 8 records his waking up. God quieted his heart, soul and mind and allowed David to get a good night’s sleep. This psalm is another of David’s poems where the title gives the specific setting for the psalm. Here, in En Gedi, David had the chance to take Saul’s life. Saul had become an easy target but rather than killing Saul when he had the chance, David instead cut off a piece of the king’s garment. Later David repented of even that act, knowing that Saul was still the Lord’s anointed leader. This psalm has three parts: a call for mercy amid calamities, a confession of trust in the midst of trouble, and a determination to praise God in the midst of the people.
Like many of David’s psalms he begins here with a plea for mercy. David depended on the Lord and His grace to bring him through his trials and tribulations. But the cry doesn’t last long. It is immediately followed by a confession of trust in the Lord. The picture of God’s protection here is quite intimate, like a mother bird hiding her young under her wings for protection. This quickly becomes worship, and some believe David turned this cave into a holy place with the presence of God there, almost like he was hiding under the wings of the cherubim in the most holy place. There he would be safe. Many times, before and as we know after this, David has sought refuge in the Lord, knowing He was always faithful. The trouble that David knows is translated as danger sometimes and as calamities in other translations. The Hebrew word here for calamities means a destructive storm that could engulf me. Saul and his men were like hunters seeking their prey and they were to stop at nothing until they found David and his men. David turned to the Lord because he knew God would protect him.
David cried out to God most high. It is a generic title for the Lord, who is more powerful than anything, real or imagined. As we have seen many times before, David uses wild beasts and animals to describe those who pursue him. In this case those with sharp teeth, lions, and ravenous beasts. Saul is throwing many of his resources into finding David, and it seems that David can almost feel them breathing down his neck. Again, we see a plea for God to rescue him from fierce predators. It is clear the psalmist believes he cannot escape these predators without God’s help. David goes so far as to describe those who pursue him as having sharp piercing teeth…teeth like spears and arrows. But it isn’t just the teeth. Their tongues are sharp like swords. This is a picture of fighting weapons. Interesting that much later in scripture God’s Word is describes as a sharp, two-edged sword, able to pierce the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12.
Like other psalms, here David moves from trials to trust. He calls for God to be exalted, above the highest heavens. And one of the ways God exalts Himself is by graciously delivering those in need. God’s glory and His manifest presence removes the evil that threatened His people. David wants everyone to see God’s glory so they will know God is Lord over all and that there is a mighty God in Israel. And back to trials David goes once again. He sees himself as prey, a bird that could be easily caught. His enemies have prepared a net to trap him. It was not uncommon for hunters in that time to dig pits and put down nets to catch what they were hunting. But David is also confident in what the Lord will do. He sees those who are hunting him down as being the ones who fall into their own pit or get tangled up in the net they have put down.
And again, David returns to praise the Lord. He has good reason to sing praises because God has been an ever-present help in times of trouble. David trusts God will rescue him once again. David is confident in the Lord. David wanted his victory in the Lord to be a witness to other nations because as king he knew part of his call was for himself and Israel to be a light to the Gentiles. When we look at the entirety of this psalm, we can see that in verse 3 God sent His mercy and truth down from heaven but in verse 10 mercy and truth reach up to the clouds. There is plenty for everyone! God’s glory extends to the whole universe, as will praise for His unfailing love and faithfulness.
Verses 5 and 11 are the same and serve as a refrain for David’s words of praise. The refrain calls upon the Lord to manifest His greatness such that everyone who saw would marvel at what the Lord had done and at His mighty powers. Truth be told, the elements of prayer, praise, and a desire for God to be glorified will transform anyplace into a holy place. In verse 7 David confesses that his heart is steadfast. In other words, he is keeping the faith. We see this much later as well, in 2 Timothy 4:7 when Paul writes to Timothy saying he had had fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. David is remaining faithful to God who had provided for him since the beginning. As is common in the psalms, the conclusion is a vow to praise the Lord. This praise is normally centered on the Lord’s saving acts and here it is centered on His acts of mercy and truth.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W
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