Psalm 57

Psalm 57: a golden psalm

Psalm 57
Let Your Glory Be over All the Earth
To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy.
A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.
(1) Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.
(2) I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
(3) He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me.
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
(4) My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts- the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.
(5) Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
(6) They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves.
(7) My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
(8) Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
(9) I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
(10) For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
(11) Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!

Psalm 57 is a song to the tune of Altaschith or “Destroy Not.”

A miktam or michtam is a “golden psalm,” a “jewel psalm,” or a “hidden psalm.” Any of these meanings make sense for the time period of the songs written with this title: maybe David’s favorite songs, like jewels. Maybe it means “hide these in our hearts for understanding.”

David fled from King Saul during most of his 20’s, and he ended up in two different caves, according to the Bible. Scholars are unsure which cave David was in when he wrote this psalm. Read the two stories here: 1 Samuel 22 (David in the cave of Adullam) and 1 Samuel 24 (David in the cave of En Gedi).

Interestingly, David had a number of opportunities to take matters into his own hands and end his running by killing Saul. But David had a personal relationship with God. David knew it was not God’s will for Saul to die at his hands.

But David said to Abishai, "Don't destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD's anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the LORD lives," he said, "the LORD himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORD's anointed.
1 Samuel 26:9-11a 

“Do not destroy” or “Destroy Not.” Psalms 57, 58, 59, and 75 are set to this particular tune. Some commentators refer to these Psalms as the “Destroy Not Psalms.”

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me. He will send help from heaven to rescue me, disgracing those who hound me.
My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness.
Psalm 57:1-3 NLT

If David is in the Cave of Adullam, then he has just escaped from the king of the Philistines. He is alone and desperate. Now he’s hiding from Saul and his soldiers and the Philistines from Gath!

In the still darkness of that cave, he cries to God for help. God is his protection- not the cave, not his own strength, not his own will power. God is who David needs.

When we cannot see the sunshine of God’s face, it is blessed to cower down within the shadow of his wings. Until these calamities be overpassed. Evil will pass away, and the eternal wings will abide over us until then. Blessed be God, our calamities are a matter of time, but our safety is a matter of eternity.

Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892

Jesus used this analogy about the Jewish people;

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.
Matthew 23:37

David’s great faith is such a reminder to us nearly three millennia later: God Most High will fulfill his purpose in us.

It will happen.

Despite the circumstances swirling around us that confuse and disorient us. Despite the pain and the evil lurking all around us, God will see His purpose to completion in you and me. He did in David despite years and years of persecution and trial. He will do the same for you and me.

I call out to High God, the God who holds me together. He sends orders from heaven and saves me,
he humiliates those who kick me around. God delivers generous love, he makes good on his word.
Psalm 57:3 The Message

God is faithful. His “generous love,” His “unfailing love,” His “lovingkindness;” God’s hesed covenant love given to Abraham, poured out upon David, is available to you and to me.

I am surrounded by fierce lions who greedily devour human prey- whose teeth pierce like spears and arrows, and whose tongues cut like swords.
Psalm 57:4

David is certain that those hunting him are stronger than he. He talks of them in this verse as being the ultimate hunter with the strongest of weapons. Were there really lions prowling around outside the cave at night? Or is this a metaphor for David’s fear? Whatever the reference, those seeking David’s life are powerful and scary, but their words are the worst of all.

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

This is the refrain or the chorus of the song, repeated again at the end. Interestingly, David just shared the metaphor of a lion’s den, then he steps free from the den and shouts praise to God. Or maybe he just stands in its’ midst and shouts anyway.

David is standing in the pit with lions and all he needs to do for strength and reassurance is to look up.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.
James 5:13
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Colossians 3:2

God has filled His Word with examples of men and women who faced the trials of the world with joy, love, purpose, and hope. That is from God and God alone.

My enemies have set a trap for me. I am weary from distress. They have dug a deep pit in my path, but they themselves have fallen into it.
Psalm 57:6 NLT

God saw to it that David’s enemies fell into their own traps. Of course, this wasn’t always evident to David at the time. He was twenty years old, alone, and fleeing for his life. Much later he could look back and see how God protected him and how his enemies actually fell into their own traps they laid for him.

But David wrote this song knowing God would do this.

That’s it, that’s the key, maybe you have seen God’s faithfulness evident in your life. Maybe it’s immediate. Maybe you can look back and see how God came through for you. Or maybe you’re in the midst of the unknown right now.

If you are, claim God’s faithfulness and know God will come through for you.

My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises! Wake up, my heart! Wake up, O lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song. I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth.
Psalm 57:7-11 NLT

David has such faith in the Lord.

How can David have such confidence when he is in the midst of trials? David is confident that all he needs is God. Even if God does not deliver him yet, they walk side by side. He is never alone.

We are never alone.

David is singing of God’s faithfulness even before being delivered. Then he has such confidence that he vows upon this deliverance to “sing your praises among the nations!” And wow, is that still coming true. David’s songs are still celebrated around the world today.

God’s faithfulness, His unfailing love is higher than the heavens and reaches beyond the clouds. And all of that is a gift to us. Claim it.

I'm ready, God, so ready, ready from head to toe, ready to sing, ready to raise a tune: "Wake up, soul! Wake up, harp! Wake up, lute! Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!"
I'm thanking you, GOD, out loud in the streets, singing your praises in town and country. The deeper your love, the higher it goes; every cloud is a flag to your faithfulness. 
Sour high in the skies, O God! Cover the whole earth with your glory!
Psalm 57:7-11 The Message

When David was driven out in the heathen lands he would not only not worship their gods. but he would openly avow his veneration for the God of Israel, would take his religion along with him wherever he went, would endeavor to bring others in love with it, and leave the sweet savor of it behind him. David, in his psalms, which fill the universal church, and will to the end of time, may be said to be still praising God among the people and singing to him among the nations; for all good people make use of his words in praising God.

Matthew Henry, English minister, 1662-1714

Sing the praises of God, and He will overflow your heart with peace, joy, and hope.

Father in heaven, thank you for the gift of your word. Thank you for sending Jesus to walk among us and to give us the ultimate example of a life dedicated to you. Thank you that Jesus conquered death for all of us, thank you that he took our place and because of his sacrifice we can be with you one day in heaven. Thank you for your faithfulness and your unfailing love throughout David’s life and today, for us. Give us strength, love, and joy today. Amen.

Heidi xoxo

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