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Psalm 57

A Michtam of David when he fled from Saul into the cave.

Now we have another Michtam psalm of David, like Psalm 56. As The Companion Bible suggests, it has to do with writing, particularly engraving. Since most writing is not graven, this indicates its importance. It is “set in stone,” as our figure of speech would have it. Rotherham makes it “A Tablet.” Yet we would prefer to refer this to a mark of importance. These psalms are to be engraven; their lesson is to be remembered.

The occasion of this psalm is the time that David fled from Saul into the cave. Our best guess would be that this refers to the incident recorded in I Samuel 24. Let us consider from I Samuel 23:26. Read the rest of this entry »

Psalm 56

A Michtam of David when the Philistines captured him in Gath.

This psalm begins a series of Michtam psalms, running from Psalm 56 to Psalm 60, all of which are by David. The only other Michtam psalm is Psalm 16, also by David, which we have already studied. As explained in The Companion Bible Appendix 65, the word “Michtam” comes from the Hebrew word “Katam,” which means to cut in or engrave. In the Septuagint, the word used to translate Katam is connected with the words engraved on a sepulchral monument, and we can see in the Michtam psalms the idea of death and resurrection. The reference is to a graven and therefore permanent writing. Since most writing is not graven, this indicates its importance. It is “set in stone,” as our figure of speech would have it. Read the rest of this entry »

Psalm 55 Continued

12. For it is not an enemy who reproaches me;

David is even more vexed because of who it is who is the terrible enemy who is doing all this to him. It was not one he had thought of as an enemy at all who reproached him.

Then I could bear it.

David testifies that he could bear it if it was an enemy who had done all this to him.

Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me;

Nor is it one who in the past has hated David who has exalted himself against him. Of course, we cannot say that he does not hate David now, for his actions show that he does. Yet what David means is in the past. This one had not been a hater of David at all before this current, sad situation arose.

Then I could hide from him.

If it was one who was a known hater and enemy of David, then David could hide from him. It would be much easier to deal with such an enemy, if he was one who had always been David’s enemy. People would have expected this one to be against David, and he would have been able to hide from him and keep him at a distance. Read the rest of this entry »

Psalm 55

A Contemplation of David.

This is another psalm of David, Israel’s great songwriter, shepherd, and king. This is not a “Contemplation,” but the Hebrew word Maschil refers to “Instruction.” The occasion of the Psalm seems to be the great treachery and rebellion of David’s respected counselor and friend Ahithophel and his own son Absalom. We can read of this sad event in II Samuel 15.

1. After this it happened that Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. 2. Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So it was, whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, “What city are you from?” And he would say, “Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel.” 3. Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you.” 4. Moreover Absalom would say, “Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.” 5. And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. 6. In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. Read the rest of this entry »

Psalm 54

A Contemplation of David when the Ziphites went and said to Saul, “Is David not hiding with us?”

As in Psalm 53, here we have another Psalm that is called “A Contemplation of David.” The word the New King James Version has translated “Contemplation” is the Hebrew maskiyl, which The Companion Bible suggests means “Instruction.” This psalm is for public instruction regarding the LORD’s faithfulness to rescue His people from the hand of their oppressors.

David wrote this Psalm after learning that the Ziphites had gone to tell Saul that David was hiding among them. I Samuel 23 tells us the story. Read the rest of this entry »

Psalm 53

A Contemplation of David.

The word the New King James Version has translated “Contemplation” is the Hebrew maskiyl, which The Companion Bible suggests means “Instruction.” This psalm is for public instruction regarding the wicked, for the people of Israel to learn of them and to learn to avoid their ways.

This psalm is very similar to Psalm 14. Why this near repetition, we might ask? First of all, note the superscription and the subscription. Psalm 14 has only a superscription, proclaiming it a “Psalm of David.” Psalm 53 is called “Instruction,” and is dedicated in the subscription “To the Chief Musician.” These two facts mark this psalm out for public performance and instruction. Psalm 14, however, appears to be David’s own private version of the psalm, intended more for David’s own private use rather than for public performance. Read the rest of this entry »

Psalm 52

A Contemplation of David when Doeg the Edomite went and told Saul, and said to him, “David has gone to the house of Ahimelech.”

This Psalm is called “A Contemplation” in the New King James Version. The old King James had a transliteration of the Hebrew as “Maschil,” although a better transliteration might be maskiyl. The Companion Bible suggests that this Hebrew word means “Instruction.” In this Psalm, we are going to be instructed about the destructive man and his end. Read the rest of this entry »

Psalm 51 Continued

9. Hide Your face from my sins,

He calls upon God once again, as he has been doing repeatedly in these verses. This time, his appeal to god is to hide His face from his sins. Of course, if His face was hidden from them, He would not be looking on them and remembering them, which is what David is asking Him to do.

And blot out all my iniquities.

Again this is a repetition of the same thought as in the previous line. He does not just want God to hide His face from his sins, but also to blot out his iniquities. If God blots them out, he is sure they will be blotted out and gone from then on. Read the rest of this entry »

confess02Psalm 51

A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

Here we have another Psalm by David, the great king and psalmist of Israel. This psalm was written at a most critical moment in David’s life: when, after his terrible sin of adultery with Bathsheba and his equally terrible murder to cover up her subsequent pregnancy, Nathan the prophet went to David to convict him of his sin. In II Samuel 12, we read of this.

1. Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. 2. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. 3. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. .4 And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”
5. So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6. And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”
7. Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Read the rest of this entry »

Psalm 50

A Psalm of Asaph.

Psalm 50 is the first of twelve psalms credited to the man Asaph.

1. The Mighty One, God the LORD,

In Hebrew, this Psalm is introduced by three names of God: El, Elohim, and Jehovah. El is the singular name of God, and it emphasizes His might and strength, as the New King James has rendered it “The Mighty One.” Elohim is the plural name of God, as we would make it “Gods,” and yet it always takes a singular verb, as “Gods is.” There is always an ongoing argument as to whether this is merely the “plural of majesty,” as when kings speak using the royal “we,” or whether it is an indication of plurality within the Godhead. The plural name Elohim is particularly used of God as Creator, and yet the One Who created us is also the One Who has the right to judge us, so it speaks of God as Judge as well. Jehovah (or Yahweh) is used of God in relationship with His people. It is used when the relationship has developed, so that it is more than the relationship between the Creator and His creature, but between two, a person and God, who have established a closer relationship on another footing (as by a covenant, or by some other means). Read the rest of this entry »