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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Psalms 56

 

 

Verses 1-13

The title of this psalm, which relates to the manner of singing and playing, is upon the remote and silent dove. To which michtam is added, the golden ode of David. In the LXX, the title of this and the three following psalms are the same, as to the air or the manner of singing. David, as was the ancient custom of the bards, made a psalm on every special occasion of escape from danger, or when he was favoured with enlargement of heart. He composed this after changing his behaviour before Achish king of Gath. 1 Samuel 21.

Psalms 56:1. Be merciful unto me, oh God, for man would swallow me up. The Philistines gathered round about him; and though protected by Achish, yet the kindred of Goliath, and of those slain in wars, were urgent that David’s life should go as an atoning sacrifice to the manes of their slaughtered relatives. Their words were very strong: “He hath slain his tens of thousands,” and their looks were fierce as though they would devour him.

Psalms 56:4. In God I will praise his word. It should read, as in Dr. Lightfoot, “Through the Lord will I praise with speech,” or words. Probably he had lost his speech through fear, when he changed his behaviour before Achish.

Psalms 56:8. Put my tears into thy bottle. The ancients in the east had lachryals, urnæ lachrymales, into which they shed their tears on the death of relatives. I once saw an Egyptian lachryal. It stood about eight inches high, and would contain one sixth part of a pint; in figure it resembled a tall urn with a narrow neck, but the mouth displayed itself to receive the tears. The handle was tall to receive the fingers. It was beautifully made of black composition, which usually consists of nine parts common clay, and one part oxides of iron, passed through a lawn, and tempered in the heat of the sun.

Psalms 56:12. Thy vows are upon me. After a vow, the devoted thing is not ours, but the Lord’s. David, by the next verse, seems to refer to some vow he had made in the years of his exile.

Psalms 56:13. Thou hast delivered my soul from death, by inclining Achish to disregard the demands of the Philistines for my life; and my feet from falling, as the Chaldaic reads, by worshipping the idols of Gath.

REFLECTIONS.

Truly God delivers his saints who cry in the day of trouble; his eye is over them, and his mighty angels cover them with a shield. Then let us doubt and distrust no more. Surely it was David’s God that saved his soul from death, and bottled up all his tears. He who honours God with confidence, shall realize the fidelity of him in whom he trusts.

We learn also the high duty of paying our vows to God, whether made in distress at sea, in tumult and war, or in time of straits and sickness. But the vows most pleasing to him are those of piety, love, and obedience. To obey is better than sacrifice. A life preserved, and redeemed a thousand times from death, demands the unceasing oblation of prayer and praise.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 56:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/psalms-56.html. 1835.

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