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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 57

 

 

Verse 1

Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.

Psalms 57:1-11.-Cry for mercy; joyful anticipation of deliverance from enemies (Psalms 57:1-4); praise for it, and for the foes' entanglement in their own pitfall, as if this were already accomplished (Psalms 57:5-11); Hope predominates from the first.

Al-taschith - `destroy not.' This title is found also in the titles of Psalms 58:1-11; Psalms 59:1-17; and Psalms 75:1-10. It is the maxim uppermost in David's heart when he wrote amidst persecutions, and one which embodies the spirit of the psalm. Drawn from Deuteronomy 9:26. He used the same "destroy not" in 2 Sam. 26:9 , to Abishai, forbidding him to slay Saul. He could only say to God "destroy not," when he himself "destroyed not" his enemy.

Michtam of David - i:e., 'secret of David.' No power except that of God could have so revealed the secret of the Lord's purpose of delivering his servant, that the latter already breaks forth into praises of God.

When he fled from Saul in the cave. The history mentions David's stay in two different caves - 1 Samuel 22:1, "the cave of Adullam," where many flocked to him; 1 Samuel 24:1, the cave of Engedi. The cave was a symbol of his gloomy position, Hebrews 11:38. As Psalms 56:1-13 refers to his deliverance at the court of the Philistine king Achish, so this 57th psalm to his subsequent stay in the cave of Adullam, 1 Samuel 21:10-15; 1 Samuel 22:1.

Be merciful (gracious) unto me, O God, be merciful unto me. The repetition implies the intense earnestness of the petitioner and the greatness of the danger.

For my soul trusteth in thee. He grounds his prayer on this-threatened on all sides by the world, he puts his whole trust in God (cf. Psalms 56:1-2). His "soul" was the object of the enemy's assault. Compare David's words to Saul at the cave of Engedi, 1 Samuel 24:11.

Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge - (Psalms 17:8; Psalms 36:7; Psalms 121:5-6.)

Until these calamities be overpast. The same Hebrew is translated "very wickedness," Psalms 5:9 [ hawowt (Hebrew #1942)], mischievous devices, wicked mischievousnesses.


Verse 2

I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.

I will cry unto God. The cry to God naturally follows soul-trust in God (Psalms 57:1).

Most high - `The Most High' will lift us on high when, being sunken low, we "cry" to Him. Formidable enemies are nothingness when 'the Most High' is on our side. Compare David's committal of his cause to the Lord at Engedi (1 Samuel 24:13-16).

Unto God that performeth all things for me. God's favours already received are a pledge that He will complete His work of love 'upon [ `al (Hebrew #5921)] me.' The beginning is the earnest of the completion. His Word is a guarantee for the performance of "all things" that I need (cf. Psalms 57:3; Psalms 56:4; 1 Samuel 2:9; 1 Samuel 3:12; 1 Samuel 23:17; 1 Samuel 24:21; Psalms 138:8; Job 10:3; Job 10:8; Job 14:15; Philippians 1:6; Isaiah 26:12).


Verse 3

He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.

He shall send from heaven. What "He shall send" follows in the next clause.

His mercy and his truth - (cf. Psalms 18:16; Psalms 43:3; Psalms 144:7). "From heaven," my only, and my sure source of hope, as contrasted with the earth, where all is dark and dreary to me.

And save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up -- (Psalms 56:1-2.) Calumnies, misrepresentations, and reproaches, were the stinging weapon wherewith Saul and his party assailed David (Psalms 55:12; Psalms 55:21; Psalms 56:5; cf. here Psalms 57:4, end).

Selah - a solemn pause, showing how deeply the enemy's reproaches affected him.


Verse 4

My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.

My soul is among lions; and I lie even among them that are set on fire. The point in common between the two images - "lions," and "them that are set on fire," firebrands-is the dreadful fury of both. Instead of "I lie," translate, with the Chaldaic, 'I will lie' [ 'eshk


Verse 5

Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth.

Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth - praise for the deliverance anticipated, in the strong assurance of faith. Let men see (not merely a prayer, but a prophecy, that men shall see it, and therefore shall praise God) and declare that thou art raised above the heavens, and therefore art far above all the puny powers of the earth that oppose thee and thy people. In Psalms 57:9-10 God's mercy and truth are "praised" among the people of the earth, and are represented as reaching "unto the heavens:" here God and His glory are declared to be lifted above both the heavens unit the earth.


Verse 6

They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah.

They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down - rather, as the Hebrew verb is transitive, and the enemies are the subject in the other verbs of the sentence, 'they bowed down my soul.'

They have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves - the theme of the praise in Psalms 57:5; namely, that with all their preparing of the net for the Psalmist, their bowing down his soul, and digging a pit, all their laborious malice has ended in their falling into their own pit; such is the righteous retribution of God!


Verses 7-10

My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.

-Determination to praise God. Verse 7. My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed - literally, prepared, established. The repetition emphasizes the steadfastness of his confidence of deliverance and the fixity of his resolution to praise (cf. Psalms 112:7-8).

Verse 8. Awake up, my glory - i:e., my soul (Psalms 16:9; Genesis 49:6).

Awake, psaltery and harp. These had slept in silence until David received the assurance of deliverance.

I myself will awake early - literally, more poetically, 'I will stir up the morning dawn.' I will waken it up, not it me. I will anticipate the sun in rising to bless God: implying zeal and unwearied earnestness in the Lord's service (Psalms 63:1; Psalms 78:34; Mark 1:35.

Verse 9. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people - `the peoples' (cf. Psalms 18:49).

Verse 10. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds - (Ps .; 103:11.) Those things which we wish to glorify we, extol to the skies, as the expression is. As God 'sends forth His mercy and His truth' from heaven to earth, so the recipients extol the greatness of His mercy and His truth unto the heavens. The greatness of God's mercy is as high as the heavens are above the earth.


Verse 11

Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.

Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens ... The conclusion of the second strophe reverts to the same praise for deliverance as its commencement. The repetition of praise is the sure path to the divine help.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 57:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-57.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 15th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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