Psalm 54: God is my deliverer
The Lord Upholds My Life
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.
A Maskil of David, when the Ziphites went and told Saul, “Is not David hiding among us?”
(1)O God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might.
(2)O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth.
(3)For strangers have risen against me; ruthless men seek my life;
they do not set God before themselves.
(4)Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.
(5)He will return the evil to my enemies; in your faithfulness put an end to them.
(6)With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.
(7)For he has delivered me from every trouble,
and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.
Psalm 54 is a contemplative song, a Maskil or Maschil, written by David. According to the title, this is a song meant to be sung with a background of stringed instruments, and it tells of another time David was betrayed.
The Bible records the Ziphites betraying David and his men to King Saul on two different occasions.
The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds of Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon? Now, Your Majesty, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we will be responsible for giving him into your hands.”
1 Samuel 23:19-20
The Ziphites went to Saul and Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding on the hill of Hakilah which faces Jeshimon?” So Saul went down to the Desert of Ziph, with his three thousand select Israelite troops, to search for David.
1 Samuel 26:1-2
Bible scholars believe David wrote Psalm 54 after he learned the Ziphites had betrayed him in the first instance, as recorded in 1 Samuel 23.
Read the stories in 1 Samuel 23 & 26.
David was in hiding (or literally running) from Saul for 8-10 years of his life. He became king after Saul’s death when he was around 30 years old. History records that David was 20-22 when he began to run from place to place trying to escape the craziness of his father-in-law (also his best friend\’s father, not to mention the anointed king over his people). The Bible records a couple of times when David could have killed King Saul with his own hands and been done with the whole affair. But David knew this was not God’s plan, and so, he continued to run and hide and wait upon the Lord’s timing.
David had some trustworthy folks around him during this time, people who were committed to him. The Bible talks about his mighty warriors, also his brothers and their households joined him at some point.
But throughout that difficult time, and the rest of his life as well, David sought out God first. This Psalm is one of those instances.
When he was unsure what to do, he asked God. When he was afraid, he went to God. When people betrayed him even though he had done nothing wrong, he went to God.
Save me, O God, by your name; vindicate me by your might.
Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth.
Arrogant foes are attacking me; ruthless people are trying to kill me–
people without regard for God.
Psalm 54:1-3 NIV
David begins this Psalm with two things: he calls upon the Name of God and upon His strength. David believed there was nothing more reassuring, nothing safer, nothing more powerful than God’s Name. David knew the Name of God because David had a personal relationship with Him.
David knew there was nothing he needed more than his God’s strength at this time. He wasn’t safe…again, even though he hid deep in the wilderness. But when he was afraid, he knew who to call.
Who do you call upon when you are in need? Who’s strength do you rely upon? There is One who is strong enough, who is always present and always listening for the cry of His children.
It’s interesting that many Old Testament writers said things like “hear me, God,” “listen to me, God.”
Here are a couple of examples;
When Nehemiah heard there were still a remnant of God’s people in Jerusalem during the exile,
LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants,
Nehemiah 1:5-6a NIV
The prophet Isaiah called upon God to save the people from the evil Assyrian king,
Give ear, LORD, and hear; open your eyes, LORD, and see, listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.
Isaiah 37:17 NIV
When Daniel prayed for God’s people to be released from captivity in Babylon,
Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.
Daniel 9:18-19 NIV
God’s eyes are never closed, and He always hears. What does this mean then?
“It was common for David and others in their prayers to merely ask for God to hear or give ear to their cry. It was assumed that if the good and merciful God heard, He would act.”
–Pastor David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com
Sometimes in the most desperate of times, in the dead of night, in our greatest time of need, isn’t it just enough to know that someone is listening?
The Ziphites were Israelites. They were David’s countrymen, but they had clearly taken a side between David and King Saul. David was God’s chosen king over Israel. He just awaited the moment that God would place him over Saul. There were people who knew this and believed God’s Word, and there were people who did not and followed King Saul.
These people of Ziph had “no regard for God.”
Interestingly, both times the Ziphites betrayed him, David had an opportunity to attack and kill Saul (1 Samuel 24, 26). David was just a man; he was only human. He probably considered taking Saul’s life and ending all the running and hiding. But he knew, because he had a personal relationship with God, that it was not time.
David gives us over and over again a reminder to wait on the Lord. Are you in a season of pain? Of sadness? Of unknowns? All we can do during those times is the seek the Lord first…and wait.
Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.
Let evil recoil on those who slander me; in your faithfulness destroy them.
I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your name, LORD, for it is good.
You have delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.
Psalm 54:4-7 NIV
“The reigning Lord, the great Adonai is in the camp of my defenders. Here was a greater champion than any of the three mighties, or than all the valiant men who chose David for their captain. The Psalmist was very confident, he felt so thoroughly that his heart was on the Lord\’s side that he was sure God was on his side.”
–Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
David calls upon the Name of the Lord and upon His strength. Then he stands firm on the faithfulness of God. He knows that God is his help, and that God will sustain him. He is certain that God will intervene and save him.
When we pray, let’s be bold like David. When we call upon the Lord for help, let’s stand with surety upon God’s faithfulness. He will help. He will heal. He will save us. God is faithful, then, now, and always.
And then, after claiming God’s faithfulness…praise Him.
This little Psalm teaches us so much about prayer…
“God, I call upon your Name and your strength.
Hear me, see me, know me.
You are the only One I need.
You are faithful to me.
I wait for your timing, and I praise your Name forever.”
“The Lord will in due time save his people, and in the mean time he sustains them, and bears them up, so that the spirit he has made shall not fail.”
–Matthew Henry, English minister, 1662-1714
Father in heaven, thank you for your promises and your faithfulness. Thank you that your eye in on your children. Hear us and see us, Father. We call upon your name and strength today. Walk beside us and fill us with your joy and your peace. Give us patience to wait upon your timing in our lives. We praise your name forever. Amen.