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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 54

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Psalms 54:0


Prayer for Defense Against Enemies MT Intro For the choir director on stringed instruments. A Maskil of David, when the Ziphites came and said to Saul, “Is not David hiding himself among us?” Answered Prayer For Deliverance From Adversaries Prayer For Deliverance From Personal Enemies A Prayer For Protection From Enemies Appeal to God, the Just Judge
Psalms 54:1-3 Psalms 54:1-3 Psalms 54:1-2 Psalms 54:1-3 Psalms 54:1-2
Psalms 54:3 Psalms 54:3
Psalms 54:4-5 Psalms 54:4-5 Psalms 54:4-5 Psalms 54:4-5 Psalms 54:4-5
Psalms 54:6-7 Psalms 54:6-7 Psalms 54:6-7 Psalms 54:6-7 Psalms 54:6-7

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-3

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 54:1-3 1Save me, O God, by Your name, And vindicate me by Your power. 2Hear my prayer, O God; Give ear to the words of my mouth. 3For strangers have risen against me And violent men have sought my life; They have not set God before them. Selah.

Psalms 54:1-3 This strophe shows the historical setting as one of personal attack, apparently by other covennant people. Notice the prayer requests.

1. save me BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative

2. vindicate (i.e., judge rightly) me BDB 192, KB 220, Qal imperfect used between three imperatives and parallel to the first. It is functioning as an imperative of request after examples in Ugaritic poetry (AB, p. 24). It denotes a “legal verdict.” The psalmist is asking God for judicial acquittal. He has been unfairly accused.

3. hear my prayer BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative, cf. Psalms 17:6

4. give ear BDB 24, KB 27, Hiphil imperative in a synonymous parallel relationship to #3, cf. Psalms 5:1; Psalms 55:1; Psalms 86:7

“O God” This is the name for God (Elohim) that refers to Him as creator, sustainer, and provider of all life on this planet (cf. Genesis 1:0, see SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY). It appears twice, Psalms 54:1a and Psalms 54:2a. It is paralleled by

1. Your name (cf. Special Topic: “The Name” of YHWH)

2. Your power, cf. 2 Chronicles 20:6

Psalms 54:3 The psalmist's enemies/adversaries are described in this verse.

1. strangers (BDB 266 I, cf. Psalms 44:20; Psalms 109:11) have arisen against me, Psalms 54:3a. This is usually used of other covenant people.

2. violent men (BDB 792). This is usually used of enemies of other nations (i.e., invaders, cf. Isaiah 13:11; Ezekiel 28:7; Ezekiel 30:11; Ezekiel 31:12; Ezekiel 32:12)

3. they have not set God before them; this could refer to

a. godless Israelites, cf. Psalms 14:1; Psalms 36:1-4; Psalms 53:1

b. Gentiles (i.e., national enemies)

“Selah” See note at Psalms 3:2 and Intro to Psalms, VII.

Verses 4-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 54:4-5 4Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul. 5He will recompense the evil to my foes; Destroy them in Your faithfulness.

Psalms 54:4-5 As the psalmist described his enemies in Psalms 54:3, in Psalms 54:4-5 he characterizes God and asks for Him to act against his foes.

1. God is my helper BDB 740, KB 810, Qal participle, cf. Psalms 27:9; Psalms 30:10; Psalms 37:40; Psalms 118:7

2. the Lord (Adon, BDB 10) is the sustainer of my soul (BDB 701, KB 759, Qal participle, cf. Psalms 37:17, Psalms 37:24; Psalms 41:12; Psalms 51:12; Psalms 71:6; Psalms 145:14)

3. He will recompense (lit. return, BDB 996, KB 1427). MT has Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, but the Masoretic scholars suggested that it be read (Qere) as a Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense.

4. The psalmist asked God to destroy (lit. “put to silence,” BDB 856, KB 1035, Hiphil imperative, cf. Psalms 143:12) his enemies as they were trying to silence him, cf. Psalms 69:4; Psalms 73:27; Psalms 94:23; Psalms 101:5, Psalms 101:8

Psalms 54:5

NASB, NRSV“in Your faithfulness” NKJV, LXX“in Your truth” TEV“because he is faithful” NJB“in your constancy” JPSOA“by Your faithfulness” REB“show yourself faithful”

The MT has “faithfulness” (BDB 54, see SPECIAL TOPIC: Believe, Trust, Faith, and Faithfulness in the Old Testament). It seems to link back to the psalmist's assertions about God in Psalms 54:4.

Verses 6-7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 54:6-7 6Willingly I will sacrifice to You; I will give thanks to Your name, O Lord, for it is good. 7For He has delivered me from all trouble, And my eye has looked with satisfaction upon my enemies.

Psalms 54:6 This closing strophe (Psalms 54:6-7) expresses the confidence of the psalmist that God (YHWH, Psalms 54:6) will act on his behalf. When He does then the psalmist will

1. sacrifice to You BDB 256, KB 261, Qal cohortative

2. give thanks to Your name BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense; either the “name” is good or giving thanks to YHWH is good, cf. Psalms 92:1

Psalms 54:6 has a rare use of the covenant name for Israel's God, YHWH, in Book 2 of the Psalter.

NASB“willingly” NKJV, REB“freely” NRSV“with a freewill offering” TEV, NJB“gladly” JPSOA“a freewill offering”

The MT has a preposition and a noun (BDB 621). It can refer to

1. voluntariness

2. freewill offering

Here #1 fits best.

Psalms 54:7 “He” The MT has “it,” which would relate to “Your name” in Psalms 54:6 (cf. JPSOA).

Not only is the psalmist “delivered” (BDB 664, KIB 717, Hiphil perfect) but he “sees” (BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal perfect) the defeat of his enemies (cf. Psalms 59:10; Psalms 92:11; Psalms 112:8; Psalms 118:7; this is culturally similar to “laugh at him” in Psalms 52:6).


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. What does the word “vindicate” mean?

2. Who are the enemies mentioned in Psalms 54:3 and 5?

3. Explain the significance of “name” (Psalms 54:1, Psalms 54:6).

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 54". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-54.html. 2021.
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