Book 2: Psalm 56 of 72 – What can man do to me?

VV.1-9 continues David’s plea, David’s tossing and turning and his pain in writhing.  All day long the enemies plot to injure this son of God.  However, the rousing climax comes through vv.4, 10-13: In God, whose Word I praise, in the Lord, whose Word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.  What can man do to me?

It’s as if the previous chapters are a crescendo to reach this moment.  David’s vows amount to mere thank offerings (v.12) – because the Lord is powerful enough to rise one’s soul from the dead, from one’s feet from falling.  It is that resurrection, not only of the body, but of the soul, that enables and strengthens David to walk before God in the light of life (v.13).     Even the atheists will be resurrected in the last days (Revelation 20), but it is God who can rise one’s soul from the dead this day.

Do we therefore praise the Word of the Lord, the incarnate Word who fulfils the promise of such present deliverance?  Spurgeon comments:

He is a wretch who, having obtained help, forgets to return a grateful acknowledgment. The least we can do is to praise him from whom we receive such distinguished favours. Does David here mean “by God’s grace I will praise him”? If so, he shows us that all our emotions towards God must be in God, produced by him and presented as such. Or does he mean, “that which in God is most the object of my praise is his word, and the faithfulness with which he keeps it”? If so, we see how attached our hearts should be to the sure word of promise, and especially to himwho is the WORD incarnate. The Lord is to be praised under every aspect, and in all his attributes and acts, but certain mercies peculiarly draw out our admiration towards special portions of the great whole. That praise which is never special in its direction cannot be very thoughtful, and it is to be feared cannot be very acceptable. In the Lord will I praise his word. He delights to dwell on his praise, he therefore repeats his song. The change by which he brings in the glorious name of Jehovah is doubtless meant to indicate that under every aspect he delights in his God and in his word.




Book 2: Psalm 56 of 72 – What can man do to me?

Book 2: Psalm 55 of 72 – Betrayal

The theme of Psalm 55 continues from Psalm 54.  It opens, however, on a bizarre note – “Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!  Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan” (vv1-2).  This is very different from the confidence in Psalm 54; however, this is the raw heart of David.  Even his own faith in God, his own confidence in Him, wavers.  We therefore cannot even have faith in our own faithfulness – only He can sustain us in that respect.

Just as Jesus pleaded that the cup be passed from him (Matthew 26:39), so also David wishes to escape the fear and trembling by imagining flight as a dove (v.6).  Again, another moment for pause and meditation brings David’s focus back to the true deliverance; he is not to run from circumstance, but to run to the Lord who delivers (vv.9, 16).

Yet the cause of his pain isn’t the atheist as in Psalm 54; the cause of his pain is his companion; his familiar friend; a friend whom he used to take sweet counsel together, within God’s house (vv.13-14).  This is a betrayal that only Jesus knew in the name of Judas.  A companion who would stretch out his hand against his friends, violating the sacred covenant of fellowship (vv.20-21).

This is the pain that causes David to waver, sharply in contrast with the strikes of clear enemies which David could more easily bear (v.12).  But the acts of betrayal are worthy of nothing less than Sheol, the pit of destruction (vv. 15, 23; see also Numbers 16:32).  Such is the eternity of betrayal, of the sons of the chief liar, versus He whose eternal love is enthroned from of old – the unchanging nature of the deceiver and the reliever (v.19).  Spurgeon says in his Treasury of David:

Religion had rendered their intercourse sacred, they had mingled their worship, and communed on heavenly themes. If ever any bonds ought to be held inviolable, religious connections should be. There is a measure of impiety, of a detestable sort, in the deceit which debases the union of men who make profession of godliness. Shall the very altar of God be defiled with hypocrisy? Shall the gatherings of the temple be polluted by the presence of treachery? All this was true of Ahithophel, and in a measure of Judas. His union with the Lord was on the score of faith, they were joined in the holiest of enterprises, he had been sent on the most gracious of errands. His cooperation with Jesus to serve his own abominable ends stamped him as the firstborn of hell. Better had it been for him had he never been born. Let all deceitful professors be warned by his doom, for like Ahithophel he went to his own place by his own hand, and retains a horrible preeminence in the calendar of notorious crime. Here was one source of heart break for the Redeemer, and it is shared in by his followers. Of the serpent’s brood some vipers still remain, who will sting the hand that cherished them, and sell for silver those who raised them to the position which rendered it possible for them to be so abominably treacherous.


Book 2: Psalm 55 of 72 – Betrayal

Book 2: Psalm 54 of 72 – Deliver me by Your Name

God is intimately interested in our deliverance, in our salvation.  He is not distant; he is not intangible.  He is alive, and He walks with us.

David makes this abundantly clear: O God, save me, by your name, and vindicate me by your might (v1).  O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth (v2).  God is my helper (v.4).  The Lord is the upholder of my life (v.4).  He has delivered me from every trouble (v.7).

The key distinction is v3 – the strangers who rose against David did not set God before themselves; followed by a pause of Selah for meditation.  As Spurgeon says in his Treasury of David:

They have not set God before them. They had no more regard for right and justice than if they knew no God, or cared for none. Had they regarded God they would not have betrayed the innocent to be hunted down like a poor harmless stag. David felt that atheism lay at the bottom of the enmity which pursued him. Good men are hated for God’s sake, and this is a good plea for them to urge in prayer. Selah. As if he said, “Enough of this, let us pause.” He is out of breath with indignation. A sense of wrong bids him suspend the music awhile. It may also be observed, that more pauses would, as a rule, improve our devotions: we are usually too much in a hurry: a little more holy meditation would make our words more suitable and our emotions more fervent.

On meditation – what, however, would be the logical conclusion if the strangers who rose against David do have God before themselves?  The possibility is that God is not with David; the possibility is that David is walking in sin.  Indeed, the rebuking of David by the prophet Nathan certainly points to that truth  (2 Samuel 12).

Yet, the comfort comes from those who do stand with Him; God has — not that He will – but He has delivered David from every trouble.  David claims that victory just as we should; how many times do we claim the kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it has been done in heaven?

This too is a continuation of the theme in Psalm 53 – that only God is good.   That is why salvation is done by His Name, by His might, by His deliverance.  So also those who spit on the Name of Christ face the Father’s wrath; the underlying atheism of the one true Lord the reason for the persecution of His body, His church; all such would lead to the inevitable deliverance that David is claiming.  Do we claim that deliverance on the merit of Christ’s work?  Or do we doubt God’s goodness because of our failures?


Book 2: Psalm 54 of 72 – Deliver me by Your Name