Psalms 56 Commentary

Psalms 56-57 David escapes from Saul

Both these psalms belong to the time when David fled from Saul, first to the city of Gath, then to the cave of Adullam. (For the historical background see introductory notes to Psalm 34.)

David is in great distress in Gath, as he learns that certain people in the city are planning to kill him (56:1-2). The increased danger he faces drives him to an increased dependence on God (3-4). Enemies watch his every move, plotting how they can best attack him (5-7). He is so tense with fear that he cannot sleep at night. He knows God takes notice of his distress, and this reassures him that God will protect him (8-11). In fact, his confidence in God is so secure that he considers his prayer as already answered. He pictures himself fulfilling his vows by offering sacrifices of thanksgiving to God for his deliverance (12- 13).

Having escaped from Gath, David now takes refuge in a cave. More importantly, he takes refuge in the Most High God (57:1-3). As a lion hunts down its prey, so Saul’s men hunt down David. They are like those who hunt innocent animals by laying traps for them. But they themselves are the ones who will suffer (4-6). David is so confident of God’s deliverance that he pictures singers and musicians joining in praise to the God of love and faithfulness who has saved him (7-11).

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