Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 56

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Jonath-elem-reehokim is supposed to be the name of a song; but many render it, as the words signify, concerning the dumb dove afar off; all which agrees very well to David in his present circumstances. He calls himself a dove for his innocency, and folly (which is ascribed to the dove, Hosea 7:11) in casting himself into this snare; and for his vexation and persecution by his enemies, those birds of prey; and for his sad and mournful posture. Silent he was, and it was his prudence so to be in this place and condition; and he was in a place remote enough from his father’s house, and from God’s sanctuary, where his heart was.

When the Philistines took him in Gath; when being chased by Saul’s restless malice, he had put himself into the hands and power of the Philistines at Gath; where when he was the following meditations came into his mind, which after his escape he digested into this order and Psalm.

David, praying to God, complaineth of his sufferings, and magnifieth his word, Psalms 56:1-10; is confident of God’s fulfilling it, and promiseth to praise him for it, Psalms 56:11-13.

Verse 1

Man, i.e. men, weak and miserable men, as the word signifies, whom thou canst crush in an instant; Saul and his courtiers, who have driven me hither; and now Achish and the Philistines, who have oft sought my ruin, which now they have opportunity to effect.

Would swallow me up; like wild and ravenous beasts, rather than men. Heb. hath swallowed me up. The thing is begun, and in a manner done, if thou dost not miraculously prevent it.

Verse 2

Mine enemies, Heb. my observers, that narrowly look to all my paths, and watch for my haltings, and for an opportunity to destroy me.

Many that fight against me: they trust to their great numbers, wherein they know themselves to be much superior to me.

O thou Most High; who from thine high place beholdest all their plots, and canst most easily disturb and blast them.

Verse 3

When I have the greater cause of fear, I will rely upon thy providence and promise for my deliverance.

Verse 4

In God I will praise his word: the sense is, either,

1. I will praise or boast in the Lord’s word, or the Lord for his word. Or,

2. With or by the Lord (i.e. by his favour or help) I will praise his word. Or rather,

3. This, as I humbly conceive: There are many things to be praised and celebrated in God, his power and wisdom, &c.; but amongst all, and above all, I shall at this time praise him for his word, which he hath magnified above all his name, as is said, Psalms 138:2, even for his promises of protection and deliverance made to his people in all their exigencies, and particularly and especially for that promise of the kingdom made to me; for which I will now praise him, because I am as sure of its accomplishment as if I had it already in mine hand.

Flesh; infirm and mortal men, altogether unable to oppose thy infinite Majesty; called flesh by way of contempt, as Psalms 78:39; Isaiah 31:3; Jeremiah 17:5.

Verse 5

They wrest my words; they misconstrue and pervert my most innocent expressions, and turn them into matter of calumny, wherewith they may incense Saul against me. Or, they perplex my affairs. All their thoughts are against me for evil; it is their whole study to do me mischief.

Verse 6

They gather themselves together; after they have severally employed their thoughts against me, they meet together to compare their thoughts, and to put them in execution.

They hide themselves; they lurk secretly, either that they may pry into all my most private actions, or that they may surprise me with mischief unawares. Compare Psalms 10:8; Proverbs 1:11.

They mark my steps, i.e. all my goings and doings, that they may find some occasion to reproach or entangle, and so destroy me.

My soul, or life, to wit, to take it away from me.

Verse 7

Shall they escape by iniquity? shall they secure themselves by such injurious and malicious practices, whereby they do not only vex me, but provoke and despise thee? Shall they have success instead of the punishments which thou hast threatened, and they have deserved? God forbid. But the words may be read without an interrogation,

By their iniquity they hope to escape; or, they do escape at present; but, Lord, do not suffer them thus to escape.

Cast down: this is opposed to their present exaltation and triumphs over poor David, and to their hopes and confidence of safety and success.

The people, i.e. these people of whom I am speaking, to wit, my malicious and wicked enemies, as well those followers of Saul, as these Philistines, amongst whom I now am.

Verse 8

My wanderings: here I have been hunted from place to place, and am now driven hither.

Put my tears into thy bottle; regard, and remember, and pity them.

Are they not in thy book? but why do I pray to God to do that which I am well assured he is of himself inclined to do, and hath already done?

Verse 9

When I have no other arms or force, which is my present case, my prayers shall be sufficient to overthrow mine enemies.

Verse 10

What I have already engaged to do, Psalms 56:4, that I do again and again promise to do, and I cannot sufficiently praise thy goodness in making promises, and thy faithfulness in keeping them.

Verse 12

As I have prayed to thee, and am assured that thou wilt deliver me; so in confidence thereof I have made vows to express my gratitude to thee, and I acknowledge myself obliged and do resolve to perform them.

Verse 13

From death; which my enemies designed, and my extreme dangers threatened. I am confident that thou wilt deliver, because of thy promises, and my former experience.

That I may walk before God, i.e. that I may please, and serve, and glorify thee, as this phrase implies, Genesis 5:24, compared with Hebrews 11:5, as also Genesis 6:9; Genesis 17:1; 1 Samuel 2:30; which is the great end for which I desire life.

In the light of the living: either,

1. In heaven. Or rather,

2. In this life, which is here opposed to the death last mentioned, as it is Job 33:30, which is called light, Job 3:20, as death is called darkness, Job 10:21,Job 10:22, and oft elsewhere, and which is expressed by beholding the light and the sun, Ecclesiastes 11:7.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 56". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/psalms-56.html. 1685.
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