To the choirmaster leader, according to The Dove on Far off Terebinths, a Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath
“Be gracious to me!
People trample on me.
All day long foes oppress me.
My enemies trample on me all day long.
Many fight against me.
O Most High!
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
Whose word I praise,
In God I trust.
I am not afraid.
What can flesh do to me?”
Psalm 56, has a reference to 1 Samuel, chapter 2l, when David was escaping from King Saul. He went to visit the Philistine king at Gath where he pretended to be crazy. This was the same theme in the acrostic Psalm 34. This Psalm 56 was to be sung to the melody of “The Dove on Far-off Terebinths,” but we are not sure what it is about. A Miktam is found here and in the next few psalms. It may refer to some kind of percussion instrument. David wanted God to be gracious to him. All day long his many foes were oppressing him and trampling him. However, David put his trust in God. He was not afraid to praise God. After all, what could mortal flesh do to him? He was in fact trying to elude King Saul.
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous.
However, Yahweh rescues them from all.
He keeps all their bones.
Not one of them will be broken.
Evil brings death to the wicked.
Those who hate the righteous
Will be condemned.
Yahweh redeems the life of his servants.
None of those who take refuge in him
Will be condemned.”
The righteous ones are not without trouble and afflictions, but Yahweh saved them from all their troubles. He kept their bones from being broken. Death would fall upon the wicked. Those who hated the righteous would be condemned. Yahweh saved the lives of his servant. Anyone who took refuge in Yahweh would not be condemned, while those who hated the righteous will be condemned.
“The eyes of Yahweh are toward the righteous.
His ears are open to their cry.
The face of Yahweh is against evildoers.
He would cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help,
He rescues them from all their troubles.
Yahweh is near to the brokenhearted.
He saves the crushed in spirit.”
Once again, Yahweh has eyes, ears, and a face to hear and see. There was this continual cry to have Yahweh listen to them. Much like “the eyes of Texas are on you” so too the eyes of Yahweh on the righteous ones. The ears of Yahweh are open to hear the righteous cry. The face of Yahweh was against the evildoers, whose memory would be wiped away. When the righteous cry, Yahweh hears them with his ears. He rescues them from all their troubles. He is near to the broken hearted. He saves those with a crushed spirit.
Listen to me!
I will teach you
The fear of Yahweh.
Which of you desires life?
Which of you covets many days to enjoy good?
Keep your tongue from evil!
Keep your lips from speaking deceit!
Depart from evil!
David invited the people to listen to him. He spoke to others as they were like children. He was going to teach them about the fear of Yahweh. Everyone wants to live a long life. How can they do that? They have to keep from an evil tongue. They must not have deceitful speech on their lips. They have to depart from their evil ways. On the positive side, they have do good. They have to seek and pursue peace. Once again the choice is there, good or evil.
“The angel of Yahweh encamps
Around those who fear him.
He delivers them.
O taste and see!
Yahweh is good!
Happy are those
Who take refuge in him!
O fear Yahweh!
You his holy ones!
Those who fear him have no want!
The young lions suffer want.
The young lions suffer hunger.
But those who seek Yahweh
Lack no good thing.”
If it is not Yahweh, it is his angel who surrounded David. To those who feared Yahweh, he delivered him. David then asked us to taste and see how Yahweh was good, which has become the title of a popular hymn. Those who took their refuge in Yahweh were to be happy and holy. They would no longer fear like young lions that worried about want and hunger. Those who sought Yahweh would not lack for anything. They were the truly blessed and happy ones.
“I sought Yahweh.
He answered me.
He delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him!
Thus your faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor soul cried.
He was heard by Yahweh.
He was saved from every trouble.”
David sought the help of Yahweh. Yahweh responded and delivered him from all his fears. He was radiant so that he would not be ashamed. David wanted others to do the same. He as a poor soul cried out to Yahweh. Then Yahweh heard him and saved him from all his troubles.
“A psalm of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away
“I will bless Yahweh at all times!
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in Yahweh.
Let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify Yahweh with me!
Let us exalt his name together!”
Psalm 34 is a long sapiential psalm about what happened to David in 1 Samuel, chapter 21. It is also an acrostic or alphabet psalm as each verse starts with another letter of the Hebrew alphabet like Psalms 9, 10, and 25. In the 1 Samuel story, David pretended to be deranged when he appeared before the Philistine King Achish at city of Gath. David had spit all over his beard and started to scratch at everything around him. However, the king’s name was not Abimelech, who was another Philistine King of Gerar around the time of Abraham and Isaac. However, this psalmist did not use this name within the psalm, so that it might have been a title misidentification. However, the story in 1 Samuel did have David pretend that he was mad so that he was dismissed by the Philistine king of Gath as a crazy person and not David. This psalm actually makes very little reference to that story. David or the psalmist began by blessing and praising Yahweh as he boasted in Yahweh. He wanted his name to be magnified. He wanted the humble ones to hear and be exalted.