Psalms 54

PSALM LIV

The psalmist complains that strangers were risen up against

him to take away his life, 1-3;

expresses his confidence in God that he will uphold him, and

punish his enemies, 4, 5;

on which he promises to sacrifice to God, 6;

he speaks of his deliverance, 7.

NOTES ON PSALM LIV

The title is, "To the chief Musician upon Neginoth, an

instructive Psalm of David, when the Ziphites came to Saul, and

said, Doth not David conceal himself among us?"

Ziph was a village in the southern part of Palestine. David

having taken refuge in the mountains of that country, the Ziphites

went to Saul, and informed him of the fact. Saul, with his army,

immediately went thither, and was on one side of a mountain while

David was on the other. Just when he was about to fall into the

hands of his merciless pursuer, an express came to Saul that the

Philistines had invaded Israel, on which he gave up the pursuit,

and returned to save his country, and David escaped to En-gedi.

See the account in 1Sa 23:19-29. It is supposed to have been

after this deliverance that he composed this Psalm. Neginoth, from

nagan, to strike or play on some kind of instrument,

probably signifies stringed instruments, such as were played on

with a plectrum.

Verse 1. Save me, O God, by thy name] Save me by thyself alone;

so name here may be understood. The name of God is often God

himself. David was now in such imminent danger of being taken and

destroyed, that no human means were left for his escape; if God

therefore had not interfered, he must have been destroyed. See the

introduction above.

Verse 2. Hear my prayer] In his straits he had recourse to God;

for from him alone, for the reasons alleged above, his deliverance

must proceed.

Verse 3. Strangers are risen up against me] The Ziphites.

And oppressors] Saul, his courtiers, and his army.

They have not set God before them.] It is on no religious

account, nor is it to accomplish any end, on which they can ask

the blessing of God.

Selah.] This is true.

Verse 4. Behold, God is mine helper] This would naturally occur

to him when he saw that Saul was obliged to leave the pursuit, and

go to defend his territories, when he was on the very point of

seizing him. God, whose providence is ever watchful, had foreseen

this danger, and stirred up the Philistines to make this inroad

just at the time in which Saul and his army were about to lay

hands on David. Well might he then say, "Behold, God is mine

helper."

Is with them, that uphold my soul.] naphshi, my life.

This may even refer to the Philistines, who had at this time made

an inroad on Israel. God was even with his own enemies, by making

them instruments to save the life of his servant.

Verse 5. He shall reward evil] Saul and his courtiers, instead

of having God's approbation, shall have his curse.

Cut them off in thy truth.] Thou hast promised to save me; these

have purposed to destroy me. Thy truth is engaged in my defence;

they will destroy me if permitted to live: to save thy truth, and

to accomplish its promises, thou must cut them off.

Verse 6. I will freely sacrifice unto thee] Or, I will sacrifice

nobly unto thee. Not only with a willing mind, but with a liberal

hand will I bring sacrifice unto thee.

For it is good] Thy name is good; it is descriptive of thy

nature; full of goodness and mercy to man. And it is good to be

employed in such a work: whoever worships thee in sincerity is

sure to be a gainer. To him who orders his conversation aright,

thou dost show thy salvation.

Verse 7. For he hath delivered me] Saul had now decamped; and

was returned to save his territories; and David in the meanwhile

escaped to En-gedi. God was most evidently the author of this

deliverance.

Mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies.] It is not

likely that this Psalm was written after the death of Saul; and

therefore David could not say that he had seen his desire. But

there is nothing in the text for his desire; and the words might

be translated, My eye hath seen my enemies-they have been so near

that I could plainly discover them. Thus almost all the Versions

have understood the text. I have seen them, and yet they were not

permitted to approach me. God has been my Deliverer.

ANALYSIS OF THE FIFTY-FOURTH PSALM

There are three parts in this Psalm:-

I. David's prayer for help and salvation, Ps 54:1-3.

II. His confidence that he should have help, Ps 54:4, 5.

III. His gratitude and obedience, Ps 54:6, 7.

1. David's petition: 1. "Save me." 2. "Plead my cause." 3. "Hear

my prayer." 4. "Give ear to my words." He is much in earnest; and

yet does not desire his prayer to be heard unless his cause be

just. If just, then let God plead it.

2. He produces two grounds upon which he petitions: 1. God's

name. 2. God's strength. 1. He that calls on the name of the

Lord shall be saved; I call: "Save me in thy name!" 2. Thou art a

powerful God, able to do it: "Save me in thy strength."

The greatness of his danger causes him to urge his prayer.

1. His enemies were strangers; from whom no favour could be

expected.

2. They were violent oppressors-formidable, cruel tyrants, from

whom he could expect no mercy.

3. They were such as could be satisfied with nothing less than

his blood: "They rise to seek after my life."

4. They had no fear of God: "They have not set God before them."

II. Notwithstanding they are all that I have already stated;

and, humanly speaking, I have nothing but destruction to expect;

yet I will not fear: because, 1. God is with me. 2. He is against

them.

1. "God is my helper:" as he has promised, so he has done, and

will do, to me.

2. "God is with them also who uphold my soul. Selah." Behold

this!

But he opposes them who oppose me; is an enemy to them who are

mine enemies.

1. "He shall reward evil" to such: of this being assured, he

proceeds to imprecate.

2. Destroy thou them: "Cut them off in thy truth." Thou hast

promised that it shall be well with the righteous; and that

snares, fire, and brimstone, shall be rained on the wicked. Let

God be true: Fiat justitia; ruat coelum, pereat mundus. They must

be cut off.

III. For such a mercy David promises not to be unthankful.

1. For this he would offer a princely sacrifice: "I will freely

sacrifice."

2. He would praise the name of the Lord: "I will praise thy

name."

For this he gives two reasons:-

1. That which internally moved him: "For it is good."

2. That which was outwardly impulsive; his deliverance. 1. His

deliverance was great and effectual: "Thou hast delivered me out

of all my trouble." 2. His danger was so imminent that, humanly

speaking, there was no escape. The enemy was within sight who was

bent on his destruction; yet he was delivered; and they were

confounded. On these accounts it was right that he should sing

praise, and offer sacrifice. To the grateful, God is bountiful.

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