Psalm 59:1-17 (1 Samuel 19:11-17), When Saul sent men to watch the house in order to kill David (10/29/12)
If you look carefully at the bottom of the pages in your hymnal, you will normally see the names of the person who wrote the words and the person who wrote the tune, the name of the tune (as opposed to the lyrics), and the date of writing. For many of the psalms, roughly the same information is presented in the first verse. While St. John’s is reading about David in The Story
, we here are going to read fourteen of David’s psalms, each of which he wrote as a response to some event in his life. We will read them in chronological order, and I’ll also refer you to the historical description of the event in 1 or 2 Samuel.
Most of your Bibles will call today’s psalm a miktam
, which is a technical musical term whose meaning is lost to us. ISV calls it “a special psalm.” The tune, “Do Not Destroy,” is also lost to us, but more than one psalm is set to this tune, just as various hymns in our own hymnal are set to the same tune. Another musical word used in psalms is selah
, which probably means something like “pause.” ISV translates it “interlude.” Whether the pause is silent or a musical bridge is unknown. Sometimes the first verse of the psalm specifies a particular instrument for its performance.
David and Saul had their ups and downs, and in one of the downs, Saul sent men to kill David. David wrote this psalm about how it feels to be under attack through no fault of your own.
Psalm 56:1-13 (1 Samuel 21:10-15), When the Philistines seized David in Gath (10/30/12)
On one of the occasions that David was running from Saul, he went to the Philistines in Gath. Although 1 Samuel does not say that the Philistines “seized” him, it does say that the servants of the king told him about David’s reputation as a warrior, which alarmed David enough that he pretended to be insane. King Achish said to his servants, “I don’t have enough madmen already, so you’ve brought me another?” In this psalm, David attributes his safe escape from Gath to God’s protection.
Psalm 52:1-9 (1 Samuel 22:6-10), When Doeg the Edomite went to Saul (10/31/12)
Many of your Bibles will say in Psalm 51:1 that this is a maschil
, which means an “instruction,” as the ISV calls it, or a “teaching poem.” So what is the lesson that David is teaching? Possibly, “Don’t be a tattle-tale,” since he wrote it after Doeg told Saul where to find David in order to kill him.
Or how about, “Don’t make evil the foundation of your boasting”? If I were empress of the universe, one of the first laws I’d make is that no one can make any money whatsoever by telling about their crimes.* That would cut the number of such books, articles, movies, and YouTube videos dramatically, and people would have more time to study their Bibles.
But the fact is, there shouldn’t have to be a law. If you or I commit an evil act, we should be too embarrassed, not to mention too repentant, to tell anyone but God, whose gracious love never ceases.
* Specifically including adultery.
Psalm 63:1-11 (1 Samuel 23:1-13), While David was in the Judean wilderness (11/5/12)
God has a plan for your life! Nevertheless, if you or someone else does something that doesn’t fit into that plan, God will develop a new plan for your life! God always has a plan for your well-being.
I have heard it said (even by people who should know better) that God knows – down to the minutest detail – what is going to happen to each one of us. How then can we explain this psalm? David asks in 1 Samuel 23:11, “Will Saul come here to Keilah after me?” God says, “He will come.” David asks in 1 Samuel 23:12, “Will the people of this town give me to Saul?” God says, “They will give you to him.” David takes off for the wilderness. Saul hears about it and does not come down. David’s not in the town any longer, and the people don’t give him up. God was really saying, “If you go on the way you are now, such and such will happen.” But if you change, so will God’s plan for your life.
David wrote this song praising God while he was in the wilderness.
Psalm 54:1-7 (1 Samuel 23:19-23), When the Ziphites came to Saul (11/1/12)
Here’s a psalm that specifies what instruments should be used; many of your Bibles will say, “on Neginoth
,” which means “stringed instruments.” David might have had the lyre, harp, or psaltery in mind, but I have to tell you that the differences between these are somewhat obscure to me as a non-musician. The psalms mention quite a few other instruments as well, for example, the horn, the flute, the timbrel, the trumpet, the “instrument of ten strings,” and the organ.
David wrote this psalm about another case of people finding out where he was and reporting the information to Saul. Unlike Doeg the Edomite, the Ziphites were Jews; apparently they were loyal to King Saul.
Psalm 57:1-11 (1 Samuel 24:3-22), When David fled from Saul in the cave (11/2/12)
Saul and 3000 of his men came after David, who hid in a cave. Saul came alone into the cave to relieve himself, but David refrained from killing him. When he called out to Saul to show that he, David, was not Saul’s enemy, Saul was remorseful and stopped trying to kill him. For a while.
This psalm that David wrote reminds me of the 19th-century hymn, “How Can I Keep from Singing?”
What tho' my joys and comforts die? The Lord my Saviour liveth;
No matter what happened to David, he trusted in God and kept singing.
What tho' the darkness gather round? Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, How can I keep from singing?
More of The Rest of the Story
Week 1. Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 1. More on the Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Abraham … But Not Lot
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Isaac…But not Ishmael or the sons of Keturah
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau
Week 3. Joseph Preserves Two Nations
Week 4. Deliverance
Week 4. More on Deliverance
Week 5. New Commands and a New Covenant
Week 6. Wandering
Week 6. More on the Wandering
Week 7. The Battle Begins
Week 8. A Few Good Men...and Women
Week 9. The Faith of a Foreign Woman
Week 10. Standing Tall, Falling Hard
Week 11. From Shepherd to King
Week 12. The Trials of a King
Week 13. The King Who Had It All
Week 14. A Kingdom Torn in Two
Weeks 15 and 16. God's Messengers and The Beginning of the End
Week 17. The Kingdoms' Fall
Jeremiah, Prophet of the Exile
Story 19. The Return Home
in the Old Testament
Story 21. Rebuilding the Walls
Story 22. The Birth of the King
Story 23. Jesus’ Ministry Begins
Story 24. No Ordinary Man
Story 25. Jesus, the Son of God
Story 26. The Hour of Darkness
Story 27. The Resurrection
Story 28. New Beginnings
James, Brother of the Lord
John and Jude
Story 31. The End of Time
Copyright 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
The woodcut showing King David playing the harp is from the family Bible of
John O. Spencer and Lydia Bunn, married 18 Nov. 1857 in Hector, Schuyler Co., NY.
A complete listing of the posted images from this Bible is given at
Ducks in a Row, Inc.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
St. John’s United Methodist Church,
2626 Arizona NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110
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Traditional worship services are held Sundays at 8:15 and
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