Psalm 56

For the Chief Musician. To the tune of “Silent Dove in Distant Lands.” A poem by David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.
1 Be merciful to me, God, for man wants to swallow me up. All day long, he attacks and oppresses me. 2 My enemies want to swallow me up all day long, for they are many who fight proudly against me. 3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. 4 In God, I praise his word. In God, I put my trust. I will not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? 5 All day long they twist my words. All their thoughts are against me for evil. 6 They conspire and lurk, watching my steps, they are eager to take my life. 7 Shall they escape by iniquity? In anger cast down the peoples, God. 8 You number my wanderings. You put my tears into your bottle. Aren’t they in your book? 9 Then my enemies shall turn back in the day that I call. I know this, that God is for me. 10 In God, I will praise his word. In the LORD, I will praise his word. 11 I have put my trust in God. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? 12 Your vows are on me, God. I will give thank offerings to you. 13 For you have delivered my soul from death, and prevented my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

(Previous Chapter)    •    (Next Chapter)

Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–7

Be merciful unto me, O God. This petition includes all the good for which we come to throne of grace. If we obtain mercy there, we need no more to make us happy. It implies likewise our best plea, not our merit, but God’s mercy, his free, rich mercy. We may flee to, and trust the mercy of God, when surrounded on all sides by difficulties and dangers. His enemies were too hard for him, if God did not help him. He resolves to make God’s promises the matter of his praises, and so we have reason to make them. As we must not trust an arm of flesh when engaged for us, so we must not be afraid of an arm of flesh when stretched out against us. The sin of sinners will never be their security. Who knows the power of God’s anger; how high it can reach, how forcibly it can strike?

Verses 8–13

The heavy and continued trials through which many of the Lord’s people have passed, should teach us to be silent and patient under lighter crosses. Yet we are often tempted to repine and despond under small sorrows. For this we should check ourselves. David comforts himself, in his distress and fear, that God noticed all his grievances and all his griefs. God has a bottle and a book for his people’s tears, both the tears for their sins, and those for their afflictions. He observes them with tender concern. Every true believer may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and then I will not fear what man shall do unto me; for man has no power but what is given him from above. Thy vows are upon me, O Lord; not as a burden, but as that by which I am known to be thy servant; as a bridle that restrains me from what would be hurtful, and directs me in the way of my duty. And vows of thankfulness properly accompany prayers for mercy. If God deliver us from sin, either from doing it, or by his pardoning mercy, he has delivered our souls from death, which is the wages of sin. Where the Lord has begun a good work he will carry it on and perfect it. David hopes that God would keep him even from the appearance of sin. We should aim in all our desires and expectations of deliverance, both from sin and trouble, that we may do the better service to the Lord; that we may serve him without fear. If his grace has delivered our souls from the death of sin, he will bring us to heaven, to walk before him for ever in light.

Back to Top