Psalms 56

1 To the choirmaster: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath. Be gracious to me, O God, for men trample upon me; all day long foemen oppress me;
2 my enemies trample upon me all day long, for many fight against me proudly.
3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee.
4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. What can flesh do to me?
5 All day long they seek to injure my cause; all their thoughts are against me for evil.
6 They band themselves together, they lurk, they watch my steps. As they have waited for my life,
7 so recompense them for their crime; in wrath cast down the peoples, O God!
8 Thou hast kept count of my tossings; put thou my tears in thy bottle! Are they not in thy book?
9 Then my enemies will be turned back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust without a fear. What can man do to me?
12 My vows to thee I must perform, O God; I will render thank offerings to thee.
13 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, yea, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

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Psalms 56 Commentary

Chapter 56

David seeks mercy from God, amidst the malice of his enemies. (1-7) He rests his faith on God's promises, and declares his obligation to praise him for mercies. (8-13)

Verses 1-7 Be merciful unto me, O God. This petition includes all the good for which we come to throne of grace. If we obtain mercy there, we need no more to make us happy. It implies likewise our best plea, not our merit, but God's mercy, his free, rich mercy. We may flee to, and trust the mercy of God, when surrounded on all sides by difficulties and dangers. His enemies were too hard for him, if God did not help him. He resolves to make God's promises the matter of his praises, and so we have reason to make them. As we must not trust an arm of flesh when engaged for us, so we must not be afraid of an arm of flesh when stretched out against us. The sin of sinners will never be their security. Who knows the power of God's anger; how high it can reach, how forcibly it can strike?

Verses 8-13 The heavy and continued trials through which many of the Lord's people have passed, should teach us to be silent and patient under lighter crosses. Yet we are often tempted to repine and despond under small sorrows. For this we should check ourselves. David comforts himself, in his distress and fear, that God noticed all his grievances and all his griefs. God has a bottle and a book for his people's tears, both the tears for their sins, and those for their afflictions. He observes them with tender concern. Every true believer may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and then I will not fear what man shall do unto me; for man has no power but what is given him from above. Thy vows are upon me, O Lord; not as a burden, but as that by which I am known to be thy servant; as a bridle that restrains me from what would be hurtful, and directs me in the way of my duty. And vows of thankfulness properly accompany prayers for mercy. If God deliver us from sin, either from doing it, or by his pardoning mercy, he has delivered our souls from death, which is the wages of sin. Where the Lord has begun a good work he will carry it on and perfect it. David hopes that God would keep him even from the appearance of sin. We should aim in all our desires and expectations of deliverance, both from sin and trouble, that we may do the better service to the Lord; that we may serve him without fear. If his grace has delivered our souls from the death of sin, he will bring us to heaven, to walk before him for ever in light.

Chapter Summary

Psalms 56 Commentaries

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.