We are in the Wisdom Stream and using the New International Version this week.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
Thank you Lord for being with us, for hearing us, for stepping in for us and defending us even and especially when things are at their worst. You truly are our Savior. Amen
Today’s run of Psalms is like trouncing through a jungle, escaping the lion to encounter the huge snake, then running into an angry gorilla, and then the demented explorer who sic’s the blood-thirsty warriors on you so you run to a “Tarzan vine” that allows you to swing over and narrowly escape across the pirhana-infested river so you can have a moments rest with … the Lord! “whew” Somehow the Lord brought David through harrowing times like this for years on end.
55 – David is pleading for a reply and some relief. He is in anguish, and distraught with terror and worse. Things are bad. Oh, would he love to fly away. David longs to flee back to the desert – probably because it reminds him of peaceful sheep tending during his youth. His prayer for the destruction of his enemies is warranted. And what is compounding matters is that the enemy in this case was once a close companion and believer along with David as they worshiped together – that was then. Now he’s turned on David. Honestly it sounds like Ahithophel the wretch whom we [red] read about last week. This cut David deep. II Samuel 15 is the narrative that triggered this particular prayer from David. Amazing that David ends this Psalm, “cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain … as for me, I trust in you.”
56 – This Psalm corresponds with the story from I Sam. 21 when David was being “held” in Gath. He is being resourceful, thinking quickly on his feet so to speak. And it is of note that his most intense interaction during this time in Gath is with his God. The timing is intriguing (since you asked!), David is frightened in Gath; I Samuel 21:10-15. He prays this Ps. 56 here, then he escapes unscathed and then prays Psalm 34 to give thanks for delivery. He is walking with God whatever “jungle” he finds himself in, doesn’t he?
57 – David is hiding in a cave when he writes this Psalm – I Sam. 22 coincides with this prayer. I Sam 24 and 26 are similarly tense for David and David is saying in so many words, “God all I have is you. I cannot count on anyone else.” Interesting that David killed a lion and a bear perhaps in this same region and he likens those who are chasing him now to lions and ravenous beasts [MEN this time!] whose teeth are actual spears and arrows. Still David’s heart is steadfast on God, he is praising, knows of God’s great love and David is in worship.
58 – David is especially bothered that the judges and rulers of this era are akin to poison on the land. He wishes that they would befallen upon their own wickedness and things would change quickly. He wants them to have no descendants to carry on the wrong doing. They were as dangerous for the country of Israel as a lion prowling through a village with children playing outside. David just wants all the rulers who have a corrupted soul to vanish and David uses colorful illustrations to portray the depth of his desire to see them gone.
59 – This Psalm and I Sam.19 is the concurrent literature. Saul tried to drill David through with a spear (for Saul, btw, this was an “indoor sport” that he was quite unsuccessful at). Again, the spear stuck in the wall and David fled for his life. So Saul sent soldiers after David. It was a recurring game of tag where ‘winner takes all’. We remember the crazed excitement of playing tag as children, don’t we? Well this is just as exciting and it is gone way past being a game. Losing/getting caught was not an option. Yet David is very much on the run and very much filled with faith and trust. David prays for deliverance and that is what happens. The “howling dogs” are not victorious. David is victorious because his God is.
60 – was written during a moment when the battles David was embroiled in were not going so well. Thankfully it was a brief enough stint and God responded quickly to David’s discouraged cry. II Sam. 8 -somewhere during this chapter- was the setting of the prayer of David here. And God responded as we can see in II Sam. 8:14 wherein God granted victory to David wherever he went.
61 – The Psalm opens with a song that is sung even today. You probably remember the melody. .It is most likely that David wrote this when he was “in flight”, far from home, and running from the pesky Absalom who had gone evil as a maniac. David longed to be home in the house of God and in worship there again. It would come. David’s faith was anchored forever. It’s interesting, whether we realize day to day or not, but our prayers and the Psalms are basically assisting us to walk with God like David did. He is a sterling example for this. We need to be spending our lives in the Psalms.