To the Chief Musician. Set to “Do Not Destroy.” A Michtam of David when he fled from Saul into the cave.
1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.
2 I will cry out to God Most High,
To God who performs all things for me.
3 He shall send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah
God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.
4 My soul is among lions;
I lie among the sons of men
Who are set on fire,
Whose teeth are spears and arrows,
And their tongue a sharp sword.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.
6 They have prepared a net for my steps;
My soul is bowed down;
They have dug a pit before me;
Into the midst of it they themselves have fallen. Selah
7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and give praise.
8 Awake, my glory!
Awake, lute and harp!
I will awaken the dawn.
9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing to You among the nations.
10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens,
And Your truth unto the clouds.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.
This psalm was composed soon after David’s escape from Gath (see 1 Samuel 22:1) and it resembles the preceding psalm in both theme and style. Both begin with identical words, are in two parts each followed by a refrain (vs.5 and 11), speak of similar perils (56:1-2; 57:3), and express the same deep trust in God. — Guthrie, page 486.
David when he fled from Saul into the cave (heading) — referring to either or both of the events introduced in 1 Samuel 22:1 and 24:3.
Be merciful (v.1) — see comments on Psalm 56:1
in the shadow of Your wings (v.1) — presents the idea of a baby bird hiding from danger under the wings of its mother. Also used in Psalms 17:8; 36:7; 91:4.
David’s entreaty is balanced by his following assertion that, despite his present situation (and whether or not it is soon resolved), his soul takes refuge in God—to underscore which point David next employs a favorite “family” expression: “In the shadow of Thy wings I will take refuge’ (see Psalms 17:8; 36:7; 61:4; 63:7; 91:4), the poignant poetic imagery of which, as first employed by Moses (Deuteronomy 32:11) and then David’s own great-grandparents Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 2:12 and 3:9, in which latter “covering” is lit., as here, “wing”), is contextually indicative of unreserved submission and selfless devotion, grounded in relationship.
David also affirms that God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth—as if they were angels sent ahead of David to prepare his way. — Wechsler, page 157-158
The focus of David’s heart is the glory of God (v.5), whom he declares to be exalted above the heavens. Implicit in this declaration—and a source of self-encouragement to David (cf. 1 Samuel 30:6)—is also the idea that God, being in the heavens and hence “above” all nations, will do as He pleases despite the will and opposition of man (so per the similar phraseology in Psalms 113:4 and 115:3). So too, all that happens—regardless of when and how God resolves David’s situation—will ultimately contribute to the manifestation of God’s glory above all the earth (as similarly expressed in Isaiah 6:3). — Wechsler, page 158
In all this, David was a type of his Greater Son. The psalm foretells the hatred of men to the Messiah (v.4); His descent into the realm of the dead (v.3); His glorious resurrection therefrom (v.3); and His exaltation as King of both heaven and earth (vs.5 and 11). The entire psalm is the language of the Messiah, with the exception of vs. 5 and 11, which are addressed to Him by the Holy Spirit. — Williams, page 344.
This comment has to do with my response to this psalm and the previous one plus my study of earlier psalms and my reflection back on the past year and a half of my life.
David wrote repeatedly about his fear, his suffering, his depression, his guilt. Through it all, he never lost his faith and never stopped looking toward God for his hope and purpose. But that didn’t mean that he wasn’t still constantly afraid, suffering, depressed, or feeling guilty. Paul, in Romans 7, writes on a similar theme.
I tend to think that, once I realize the hope I have in Christ, all my problems will become easier to bear. And the Bible does promise that tribulation works patience and hope. But I don’t think any of us will reach a place on this earth where we escape from the cycle that David wrote about so often. And I think it’s unreasonable to believe that we will this side of glory.