Bible Commentaries
Psalms 56

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book PsalmsScott on the Psalms

Verses 1-13

Psalms 56:1-13. Title. " Jonath-clem-rechokim," signifies, the silent dove of distant places, or, in afar country. David had been harmless as a dove, in the midst of Saul’s persecutions ; he was silent and patient under oppression ; he was now driven, like a timorous dove, to a distance from his home, and from the ordinances of God ; and when exposed to extreme danger from the Philistines, set on perhaps by the relations of Goliath, he bore all patiently, and attempted no revenge. In this he typified the harmless, suffering, and patient Jesus. (Note, 1 Samuel 21:10-15.)

V. 1, 2. While David remained in the land of Judah, his countrymen fought against him ; and at Gath the Philistines sought to slay him. Thus Jews and Gentiles united against Christ ; and his disciples are " hated of all men for his name’s sake." Swallow me up.] They pant after me, with eagerness and rage in order to devour me.’ Thus Saul of Tarsus breathed out threatenings and slaughter against " the disciples of Christ." (Notes, Psalms 27:1-3. Job 31:29-32. Amos 2:6-8. Acts 9:1-2.)

O that most High. (2). The clause may be rendered, " There are many who fight " against me from on high," or, from a safe and fortified place. The original word is not the same, as is generally rendered, most High."

V. 3, 4. David was himself greatly alarmed, when at Gath ; but in that day " when he feared," he determined still to trust in God; and to honour his word, and glory in it, as a full security in every possible danger. For, in celebrating the perfections and works of God, he would especially praise his word, his most gracious promises, and unfailing faithfulness in performing them, and this even while waiting for that performance. (Notes, Psalms 12:5-6. Psalms 138:2. Numbers 23:19-20. Matthew 24:32-35. John 1:17.) He especially referred to the promises of God, that he should be king over Israel. What fash, &c. (4) 2 Chronicles 32:8. Note, Jeremiah 17:5-8.

V. 5. Wrest my words.] Or, " They thwart me in all " my concerns." The words, in either sense of them, with the rest of this and the following verses, emphatically describe the conduct of the scribes and priests towards the Lord Jesus, which the insidious perverseness and disingenuity, with which Saul and his courtiers treated David, greatly resembled. (Marg. Ref.)

V. 6, 7. Marg. Ref. Note, Psalms 49:5.

V. 8. David was continually removing from place to place, as if he had been a vagabond : (Genesis 4:14:) but the Lord numbered all his wanderings, and watched over him wherever he went. His tears also were noticed, as if preserved in a bottle, or registered in a book : no doubt therefore his life would be precious in the sight of the Lord. ’ If God keep the tears of his saints in store, much ’ more will he remember their blood to avenge it ; and ’ though tyrants burn the bones, yet can they not blot the ’ tears and blood out of God’s register.’ (Marg. Ref.)

Wanderings."] In the translation used in the Common Prayer Book, the word fitting is used. This is a provincial term for removing from one residence to another : but it is not generally understood.

V. 9-11. Notes, 3, 4. Psalms 27:13. Psalms 46:7; Psalms 62:1-7. Romans 8:28-39.

V. 12. David had, it seems, made solemn vows under his distresses, of rendering public praises unto God, when delivered ; and of using the regal authority, which God had promised him, to promote his glory : and he confidently expected, and fully purposed, to perform these vows. (Marg. Ref. Notes,Psalms 66:13-15. Genesis 35:1-3.)

V. 13. The Lord had rescued David from many imminent perils of death : and he trusted that he would keep him from falling by the hands of his enemies ; that he might live, to walk before him, as his anointed king, in prosperity and usefulness. Or he meant, that God, having saved his soul by converting grace, would uphold him in the ways of holiness, in which he desired to walk till he came to heaven. (Notes, Psalms 116:8-9. Psalms 145:14.) Light of the living.] Notes, Job 33:27-30. Revelation 21:22-27.


The heavy and continued trials, through which many of the Lord’s servants have passed, should teach us to be silent and patient under our lighter afflictions. " We have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." Our good words may indeed be wrested to an evil meaning ; and our footsteps watched by those, who devise evil against us : but we are not in general endangered by furious assailants, who would swallow us up, and destroy us; or at least, those who would oppress us have their hands bound or otherwise employed. Vet are we often tempted to repine and despond under our lighter sorrows ! For this we should check and condemn ourselves ; and, under every disquieting fear, we should place our confidence in God, and pray more earnestly for his pardoning mercy. Meditation on the power of the Most High, engaged by his most gracious and faithful promises to his people, will encourage us to say with boldness, " The Lord is my Helper, " and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." (Note, Hebrews 13:5-6.) The believer’s soul, body, character, and interest, are all safe under the divine protection ; and when he prays earnestly, his enemies will be driven back and disappointed. Men may for a time prosper in and by iniquity ; but God in his anger will soon cast them down : aud our only security lies in escaping from iniquity. The Lord graciously notes and orders the removals of his people : while they keep in the path of duty, they cannot be driven from his gracious presence; and their tears of godly sorrow, and those which are extorted by persecution, or sympathy with the sufferings of others, will be reserved to be jewels in their crown of glory. Let us then be careful to discharge our own obligations. General vows are upon us as Christians, which have been ratified at baptism and the Lord’s supper ; and we have made promises and engagements in seasons of trouble and distress. Let us conscientiously perform them, when delivered ; and then we may leave all the rest with the Lord : and if his grace have delivered our souls from the death of sin ; he will deliver our feet from falling, and bring us to heaven, to walk before him for ever " in the light of the living," in the bright world of perfect knowledge, love, purity, and felicity.

Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 56". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. 1804.