Scripture reading – Psalm 56

As we consider Psalm 56, remember that the Psalms were an integral part of worship in Israel’s history. Also, the Psalms were an important part of worship in the first-century church (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). When studied and set to music, the Psalms resonate with believers of all ages.

Psalm 56

The psalm’s title states the occasion that inspired it, for it was when David fled from King Saul and sought refuge in Gath. When he was identified by the Philistines and taken prisoner, David feared for his life and made a pretense of insanity before King Achish (1 Samuel 21:10-15). Years later, David composed Psalm 56 and sent the verses to the chief musician of the Levites.

David’s Complaint (Psalm 56:1-2)


David recalled his desperation when the Philistines took him prisoner. He had prayed at the time, “Be merciful [be gracious] unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up [trample; crush]; He fighting daily oppresseth [torments] me. 2Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: For they be many that fight against [attack] me, O thou most High” (Psalm 56:1-2).

Trusting in God’s favor, David faced men who threatened his life with malicious words. They made him the daily, perpetual object of derision and tormented his soul (Psalm 56:2).

In desperation, David called upon the LORD. (Psalm 56:3-4)

He prayed, “3What time I am afraid, I will trust [be confident] in thee. 4In God I will praise his word, In God I have put my trust; I will not fear What flesh can do unto me” (Psalm 56:3-4).


David did not deny his fears, however, he determined to trust that the LORD would protect him (Psalm 56:3) and declared, “I will not fear” (Psalm 56:4).


David Begged for Mercy and Justice (Psalm 56:5-7)


Recalling his days as a shepherd, David likened his enemies to ravenous wolves. They twisted his words and were consumed by evil treacherous thoughts (56:5). They hid in the shadows and waited for him to stumble (Psalm 56:5-6). Yet, David questioned the LORD and asked, “Shall they escape by iniquity?” (Psalm 56:7). He wondered if his enemies would escape and be spared the consequences of their sinful ways.

David Took Comfort and Believed He Would Live to Praise God for His Mercies (Psalm 56:8-13)

After he prayed the wicked would be punished, he took comfort in knowing the LORD considered his sorrows and his tears (Psalm 56:8). In fact, he referenced the practice of ancient monarchs who collected their tears in a bottle to memorialize their sorrows. Of that practice, David prayed to the LORD, “Put thou my tears into thy bottle: Are they not in thy book?” (Psalm 56:8)

Confident the LORD would answer his prayers, David made a remarkable statement concerning God’s divine character and declared, “This I know; for God is for me” (Psalm 56:9b).

Closing thoughts:


What a wonderful truth for all believers to embrace! You may be facing trials and feel abandoned. Perhaps an enemy has plotted to injure or destroy you. What comfort to declare, “God is for me!” David expressed his faith in the LORD and declared, “10In God will I praise his word: In the Lord will I praise his word. 11In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (Psalm 56:10-11).


What a great spiritual lesson. You and I, like David, can find comfort and be emboldened in our spirit when we set out hearts to praise God for His Word and promises. We are no longer a prisoner of fear. Indeed, we can echo David’s words and say, “I will not be afraid” (Psalm 56:11b). Psalm 56 concluded as a doxology of praise to the LORD (Psalm 56:12-13). Trusting the promises of the LORD, David praised the LORD at the prospects of his deliverance from his enemy.


Application – It is natural to fear criticism, rejection, and those who gloat about our struggles. When those times come, follow David’s example. Meditate in God’s Word, claim His promises, and declare, “I know, God is for me… I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (Psalm 56:9, 11).

Remember – Wicked men will slander your testimony and may threaten your life, but no man can threaten your soul! (Matthew 10:28)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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