Psalms 56:8-9

8 Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll[a] — are they not in your record?
9 Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me.

Psalms 56:8-9 Meaning and Commentary

To the chief Musician upon Jonathelemrechokim, Michtam of David when the Philistines took him in Gath. The words "jonathelemrechokim" are by our translators left untranslated. Aben Ezra takes them to be the beginning of a song; and others think they are the name of a musical instrument: but they seem rather to design the subject matter of the psalm, and may be rendered, "concerning the mute dove among them that are afar off" {m}, or "in far places" {n}; and refer to David, who, when he wrote this psalm, was among the Philistines, who were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, afar off from God and his law, and from righteousness; and when David was there, he was at a distance from his native country, his father's house, the king's court, and, what gave him most concern, from the house and worship of God; and here he was as a mute dove. He may be compared to a dove for his innocence in the case of Saul; and to a silly dove, for his acting the part of a fool or madman before Achish king of Gath; and was mute to what the servants of Achish said, and was dumb before the Lord, who had suffered him to fall into their hands, and into this distress he was now in. They are also applicable to Christ, who is comparable to a dove for his harmlessness, innocence, meekness and humility; and was as a mute one before Pontius Pilate the Roman governor, when his enemies accused him, and he answered not a word; and when among the Roman soldiers, who mocked at him and reviled him, and he reviled not again; and when he was led to be crucified, he opened not his mouth either against God or man. They may be also applied to the church of God, which is often called a dove in Song of Solomon 4:1; and is in the wilderness, and among wicked men, that are afar off from God, and is silent under all afflictions and persecutions; see Song of Solomon 2:14. The Targum paraphrases the words thus; "concerning the congregation of Israel, which is like to a silent dove, at the time they are removed afar off from their cities."

Moreover, the words may be applied to any truly gracious soul, that is sensible of sin, and mourns as a dove for it; has fled to Christ, as doves to their windows; and is harmless and humble; and living among men, aliens from God, is vexed and afflicted by them, yet patiently bears all that is said and done unto it. The fact which occasioned the writing of this psalm is related in 1 Samuel 21:10. Of the word "michtam," See Gill on "Ps 16:1," title; and Gussetius {o} is of opinion, that every psalm that has this title belongs to Christ.

{m} "De columba muta procul inter alienos constituta," Musculus; "inter longinquos," Piscator, Pfeiffer. {n} "Remotis," Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, Vatablus; so Ainsworth. {o} Ebr. Comment p. 410.

Cross References 5

  • 1. S 2 Kings 20:5
  • 2. Isaiah 4:3; Daniel 7:10; Daniel 12:1; Malachi 3:16
  • 3. Psalms 9:3
  • 4. Psalms 102:2
  • 5. S Numbers 14:8; S Deuteronomy 31:6; Romans 8:31

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "misery;" / "put my tears in your wineskin"
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