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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Psalms 57

 

 

Verses 1-6

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.

The heading of this Psalm — “To the chief musician, Aitaschith Michtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave,” — tells us when it was written. It is one of David’s “ golden Psalms.” What a mixture of feebleness and strength there is in this first verse, — the feebleness so beautified by being clothed with the strength of faith! What a turning away from man, and what a turning wholly unto the Lord! And, in coming to the Lord, what humility, and what pleading for mercy, and for mercy only! “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me.” Yet what holy boldness also! “ For my soul trusteth in thee.” And what joyous confidence and what sweet repose in God! “Yea, in the shadow of thy wings, will I make my refuge.” “If I cannot see the brightness of thy face, the shadow of thy wings shall be enough for me. Only let me get near thee, — only permit me humbly to trust thee, and it shall be enough for me, ‘unto these calamities be overpass.’”

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

Do you pray like that, my brother, my sister? I hope you do “cry unto God most high;” but do you pray to him as the One “that performeth all things” for you; — not merely who can perform all things for you, but who is actually doing it at the present moment, — working out your lasting good by everything that is transpiring around you?

3. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah.

If all the forces on earth are not sufficient to save his saint, God will send sufficient reserves from the ranks of the heavenly host to preserve his people; or if he does not determine to preserve them on earth, he will take them away from the earth, to be with him in glory; but, in one way, or another, they shall be eternally secure.

Mark what the psalmist says of the voracity of his enemy: he speaks of Saul as “him that would swallow me up;” and the believer in Jesus is, at times, such an object of the unbeliever’s detestation that he would annihilate him if he could; but God will sooner send help from heaven for his people than that ouch a calamity should ever happen.

3, 4. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth. My soul is among lions:

What peril David was in, and what dangers often surround the best of the men, — if not from arrows, and swords, and spears, from the hellish artillery of unbridled tongues! A human tongue is soft, but it can cut to the very quick; and the wounds from a cruel tongue are not easily healed. Many a man will bear, as long as he lives, the scars that were made by a slanderous tongue. God can save us, however, even from this great trial, and enable us actually to rejoice in this sharp affliction. It is no strange thing that has happened unto us, for so evil men persecuted the prophets that were before us, as they said all manner of evil against them falsely. God himself was slandered by the old serpent in the garden of Eden, so it is not surprising that his children should be still slandered by the serpent’s seed.

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

A grand burst of praise, and all the grander because of the condition of the man from whom it came. “My soul is among lions,” says he; “but, ‘be thou exalted, O God;’” as if he would say, “It does not matter what becomes of me, I shall be content even in this den of lions, so long as thou art exalted above the heavens, and thy glory above all the earth.”

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.

He knew that it would be so, and he looked upon it as already accomplished; their nets and pits would only injure themselves. Now look at the next verse in the light of the prayer David had been praying. See what a marvellous act of faith, and what a grand result of unwavering confidence in God it is, for a man to be able to sing as David does even when his soul is among lions, and fierce and powerful enemies are all round him, seeking his hurt.


Verses 1-11

To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtaim of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave.

This is one of the “Destroy not” Psalms; for that is the meaning of the title, Altaschith, which is used here, and in Psalms 58, 59, and 75. Michtam of David. David’s golden Psalm, “when he fled from Saul in the cave.” In this Psalm we see the calmness of David’s heart when he was in great peril. He was a man of peace; and to be hunted cruelly, as he was by Saul, greatly pained him. Yet, with all the sensitiveness of his nature, he did not fall into unbelief; for his sensitiveness was balanced by his confidence in his God. You will see how, greatly as he was afflicted, he was greatly strengthened.

Psalms 57:1. Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me:

He pleads twice; for his was an urgent case. He would have the Lord help him at once; for, perhaps, if the Lord’s mercy came not to him at once, it would be too late; so he cried, “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me.”

Psalms 57:1. For my soul trusteth in thee:

This is the feather on the arrow of prayer that guides it straight to the heart of God. This is the condition attached to the promise, “According to your faith be it unto thee.” If you can truly plead that your soul is trusting in God, you may be assured that he will not deny you his mercy.

Psalms 57:1. Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.

What a sweet realization there is here of the power of God to protect him! Just as the little chick hides beneath the mother’s wing, and knows no fear, so says David, “in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge.” There was no refuge to be seen; but David does not ask to see; an unseen God is all that faith wants. If it be only a shadow, yet the shadow of Jehovah’s wings is substantial enough for our confidence: “In the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” They will be overpast; the worst calamity will not last forever. We shall think differently of these rough times by-and-by; we ought not to give up in despair, and cast away our confidence while we are in the thick of the fight.

Until the calamities are overpast, it should be our joy to run under God’s protecting wings, and hide ourselves securely there.

Psalms 57:2. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.

Faith is never dumb; true faith is a crying faith. If thou hast a confidence in God of such a kind that thou dost not need to pray, get rid of it; for it is of no use to thee; it is a false confidence, it is presumption. Only a crying faith will be a prevailing faith. “I will cry unto God most high:” the very height and sublimity of God is an attraction to faith; for though he is so high, he can and will stoop. Though God is so high, he can lift me up above the storm; for he is above it himself, and he can set me above it, too. “I will cry unto God most high;” and David sweetly adds, “unto God that performeth for me.” The translators have inserted the words, “all things”, and very properly, too; but David leaves, as it were, a gap, so that we may fill in anything that we please. Thus do we- “Sing the sweet promise of his grace, And the performing God.” He is not one who gives us promises, and then puts us off without the thing promised; but he fulfils the promises he has made, he is the Faithful Promiser: “God that performeth for me.”

Psalms 57:3. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up.

If he cannot find any means upon earth for saving David, he will send from heaven to do it; but he will save him. God is sure to find an ark for his Noahs if the floods should cover the whole earth; and when they cannot be preserved any longer on the earth, he will catch them away to himself in heaven; but he will surely take care of his own: “He shall send from heaven, and save me.” If there were only one of his people in danger, he would rend the heavens in order to save him: “He shall send from heaven and save me,” not only from the danger to my life, but from danger to my character: “from the reproach of him that would swallow me up.” Often, the enemies of the righteous are so fierce and cruel that they would, like some huge python, swallow up the godly man, devour him, make an end of him, make one meal of him, if they could; but God will not allow them to do so. He will send from heaven, and deliver us from the reproach of them that would swallow us up.

Psalms 57:3. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.

The Psalmist had only prayed for mercy; twice he had said, “Be merciful unto me.” But God always answers us more largely than we ask in our prayers; he does exceeding abundantly above what we ask or even think. So his truth comes with his mercy, as a double guard to protect his people: “God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.”

Psalms 57:4. 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.

Yet, notice that David says, “I lie” there, that is the emphatic word; and the force of that word conveys this idea, “I recline there; I feel at ease, notwithstanding the danger of my position; I recline, and rest, even among them that are set on fire.” Oh, the calm confidence of the faith that forgets the adversary when once she has hidden herself under the shadow of Jehovah’s wings! The description given of ungodly persecutors is very strong: “whose teeth are spears and arrows.” Their mouth seems to contain a deadly armoury; they have no molars to grind their food, they are all canine teeth, cruel, cutting. You must know some such critical spirits, that seem to be all teeth, and whose every tooth is a spear or an arrow. But their tongue is worse than their teeth, for it is not only a sword, but “a sharp sword”, a sharpened sword. Oh, how tongues will cut and wound!

You may heal the cut of a sword; but who shall heal the cut of a deadly, cruel, malicious, slanderous tongue? Yet for all that, David was not dismayed, but he said, “I lie down among such men, my soul is among lions.” Like Daniel among the lions, so does this man of God take his night’s rest, as calmly as though he were sleeping in his own bed at home.

Psalms 57:5. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth.

David so rises above his present circumstances that he begins to praise his God. O beloved, there is no condition in which God ought to be robbed of a song! What if I am sick? Yet my Lord must have my music, even if the harp-strings are not well tuned. What if I am poor? Yet why should I be poor towards him, and deny him my need of praise? What if I am busy? Yet I must still find time for praising him. How sweetly David seeks to exalt and glorify his God, “Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth.”

Psalms 57:6. 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.

They hunted him as they spread a snare for a bird, or as they sought to entrap a wild beast by digging a pit, and covering it over that he might stumble into it. David scarcely has time to tell us of their devices before he discovers that their plans have come to nought: “they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves.” You may go calmly on, my persecuted friend, for those who seek to do the righteous hurt, will only hurt themselves; their bows shall be broken, their arrows shall fall back into their own bosoms. Only be thou still, and let the wicked alone; let God fight for thee, and do thou hold thy peace.

Psalms 57:7. My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.

That is enough for me, I will not stop my singing for all my adversaries. Let them howl like lions, I will sing on. Let them dig their pits, I will sing on. I find this my best employment, to keep on praising my God.

“All that remains for me, Is but to love and sing,

And wait until the angels come, To bear me to the King.”

Psalms 57:8. Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. My tongue, the glory of my frame, be not thou silent! Bestir thyself!

“I myself will awake early,” or, “I will awake the dawning.” I will call the sun up to be shining; I will bid him wake to shine to the honour of my Lord. With the earliest birds I will make one more singer in the great concert-hall of God. I will not want more rest, or a longer time to myself to consider all my troubles, I will give my best time, the first hour of the day, to the praise of my God.

Psalms 57:9. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations.

I will make the Gentiles hear it. They that know not the Lord shall be astonished when they hear me praising him, and they shall ask, “Who is this God of whom this man makes so much?”

Psalms 57:10-11. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Be thou exulted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.

God give us that same calm praiseful frame of mind that David possessed if we are called to endure such trials as fell to his lot!


Verses 7-11

Let me say, before we begin our reading, that the 108th Psalm is made up partly of the 60th and partly of the 57th; yet we are sure that the Holy Spirit is not short of language, so that he needs to repeat himself. It is always a pity to think that any portion of Scripture can be tautology. It cannot be; there is some good reason for every repetition; and you will see that, in the two Psalms, which we are about to read, the latter part of the 57th coincides with the first part of the 108th; and that, in the 57th Psalm, we have prayer and praise, and, in the 108th, we have praise and prayer. It is well that we should see how these two holy exercises can change places, — so that, sometimes, we begin with prayer, and pray ourselves up into praise, and, at other times, we begin with praise, and find in it the strength we need to aid us in prayer.

Psalms 57:7. My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.

Let the lions open their cruel mouths, and roar, and let wicked men, “whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword, do their worst against me; let my every footstep be among the nets and pits that they have set and dug to catch me; even in the midst of danger, ‘my heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I still sing and give praise.’”

Psalms 57:8. Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.

“I will awake the dawn,” — so the Hebrew has it; — “I will wake up the morning and chide it for being so long in opening its eyes to look upon God’s works. David did this, notwithstanding all the trials of his surrounding circumstances. He calls on his “glory” — perhaps he means his tongue, — possibly, his poetic faculty, — perchance, his musical skill, — it may be that he means his intellect, — whatever his “glory” is, he calls upon his highest powers to awake to praise his God. Then he takes his psaltery and harp, — strange companions for a man whose soul is among lions but saints know how to evoke sweetest music even when their enemies are fighting fiercely against them; — and he sings, —

Psalms 57:9-11. I will praise thee, O lord, among the people: I will sing unto the among the nations. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.

Have not some of you found God’s mercy to be “great unto the heavens”? It even seemed to reach above the heavens; and as for God’s truth, you followed it till you could follow it no further, for it had ascended above the clouds. We could scarcely, I think, ever expect to understand here all the truth which God has pleased to let us hear or read. It reaches “unto the clouds,” and there we must leave it for the present. When God ceases to reveal anything, we may cease to inquire concerning it. I saw, in Florence, a picture of “The Sleeping Saviour.” He is represented as sleeping in the manger at Bethlehem, and the artist depicts the angels hovering round him, with their fingers on their lips as though they would not wake him from his holy slumbers. So, when God bids truth sleep, do not try to wake it. There is enough revealed for thee to know, and more that thou wilt know by-and-by, so, pry not between the folded leaves; but wait your Lord’s appointed time to teach you more of his will.

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 57:7-11; Psalms 108,

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 57:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/psalms-57.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 11th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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