Psalm Fifty Six

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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To the chief Musician upon Jonath-elem-rechokim, Michtam of David, when the Philistines took him in Gath.

Jonath-elem-rechokim. Jonath-elem-rechokim means “the silent dove of those afar off.” The psalm was written in the midst of David's experience in the pagan land of the Philistines, as described in 1 Samuel 21:10-15.

Psalm 56:1 Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me.

man would swallow me up. This “michtam” of David (see note on Psalm 16: Title) was written while being pursued by Saul on one side and surrounded by the Philistines in the city of Goliath on the other. No wonder that he felt like he was about to be swallowed up. Nevertheless, he trusted God and was not afraid (Psalm 56:3-4, 10-11, 13).

Psalm 56:2 Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High.

Psalm 56:3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

Psalm 56:4 In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

Psalm 56:5 Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil.

Psalm 56:6 They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul.

Psalm 56:7 Shall they escape by iniquity? in thine anger cast down the people, O God.

Psalm 56:8 Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?

tears into thy bottle. Ancient “tear bottles” (or wineskins) have been excavated by archaeologists in Israel, used to catch and preserve one's tears during times of grief. It is probable that the sinful woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears (Luke 7:38) was using the tears thus collected during many nights of sorrow, offering these in confession of her repentance and trust in Christ for forgiveness. David notes here that, in effect, God has a tear bottle for each of His children, for He cares about the occasions that bring tears to our eyes, whatever the cause.

in thy book. This is probably a reference to God's “book of remembrance” (Malachi 3:16).

Psalm 56:9 When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.

Psalm 56:10 In God will I praise his word: in the LORD will I praise his word.

Psalm 56:11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.

Psalm 56:12 Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee.

Psalm 56:13 For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?