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Prayer for Rescue from Persecutors
For the Chief Musician; set to Al-tashheth
A Psalm of David Michtam; when he fled from Saul in the cave
This psalm was written for the Chief Musician (see notes at Psalm 4). The son; was to be "set to Al-tashheth" which is a Hebrew word meaning -destrr'/ not. • The Hebrew word Al-tashheth is likely a musical expression that denoted a popular tune of David's day. Today, most everyone knows the tune that goes with "Amazing Grace." David intended the psalm to be sung to this popular tune as the worship and praise God. Psalm 57 is also identified as a -rníchtarnwhich illustrates the precious nature of its content (see notes at Psalm 16).
Psalm 57 was written by David at a time in his life when he was fleeing from Saul. This particular song was written as David flees to a cave for safet/. There are two recorded occasions of David fleeing from Saul to a cave. First, David flees to the cave of Adullam where four hundred men become loyal to him (see 1 Samuel 22:12). A second time David flees from Saul to a cave for safety was at Engedi. Saul had been warring with the Philistines and breaks from them to pursue David with three thousand men. The king of Israel goes into a cave where David is secretly hiding to "relieve himself' (ESV 1 Samuel 24:3). David could have killed his enemy Saul yet he knew that the king was God's anointed and would do no such thing against his Lord. It is most likely that this song was composed after the events at the cave in Engedi. Once again we study a Psalm about David's enemies. Twenty nine of the first 57 Psalms have dealt exclusively with enemies. While such repetition may appear redundant they are actually very significant. God would not have devoted so much divine text to a singular subject if it were not of utmost significance in our lives.
We have learned something different in each of the twenty eight previous Psalms that dealing with enemies as their primary objective. We learned from Psalm 56 to keep a spirit of joy and happiness when pursued and persecuted by our enemies. We have learned that our enemies have souls too and we ought pray in ways that they too may be saved. Jesus said, "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). As we study Psalms about David's enemies we gain greater insight into God's love, mercy, and care for his beloved saints. When pursued and persecuted by the enemy we learn to trust in God as our rock and place of refuge. We also learn about the final outcome of those who set themselves against God and his elect. God's wrath will be poured out upon the ungodly of every generation (see 2 Peter 2:46). There is never a dull moment as we study these Psalms that, on the surface, appear to be redundant.
Psalm 57 teaches us more aspects of Christian character as we suffer through persecution at the hands of enemies. First, we learn the value of having a proper view of God. David saw God as the "Most High" (Psalm 57:2) that is exalted above the heavens (Psalm 57:5) and whose glory fills the entire earth (Psalm 57:11). None of us will have a proper view of our enemies until we have a proper view of God. The Lord occupies the greatest position of sovereignty and power among mankind. There is no other to turn to than God for help at times when we are persecuted. Secondly, we learn that we must never quit on God, his church, our spouses, our children, or anyone else just because we are suffering at the hands of the ungodly. David said, "My heart is steadfast" even though that same heart was broken due to haters relentlessly pursuing him (see Psalm 57:7). Thirdly, we learn that a big reason that David kept pressing forward in this life and never giving up was that he understood God's purpose for him (Psalm 57:2). David knew that he would be the person that the promises of God, regarding a savior and kingdom, would come through (see 1 Samuel 16:13-18 and 2 Samuel 7:12-17). A fourth lesson learned about facing and dealing with enemies who pursue and persecute us is that if we pray and keep our mind focused on our duties we will get through them. David prayed every morning to God (Psalm 57:8). Athletes are motivated for an upcoming competition by listening to certain songs and watching certain movies. Likewise God's saints are motivated to keep pressing in life by the word of God.
John C Robertson