Psalms 57–59: My Refuge & My Strength

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 20: Wednesday

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,
For my soul takes refuge in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings
I will take refuge
Until destruction passes by.
I will call to God Most High,
To God who accomplishes
all things for me.
Psalm 57:1–2 LSB

All three psalms in Wednesday’s Bible reading of Psalms 57–59, are psalms of David. Pray and ask God through His Word to enable you to know that He is your refuge and  strength, and to help you trust Him in your own times of distress.

Psalms 57 and 59 are also psalms “written on the run” and belong to his days of persecution by Saul: when he hid in caves (Psalm 57: cf 1 Samuel 22:1 or 24:3) and when his wife, Michal, who was also Saul’s daughter, had to lower David from a window because Saul was watching his house to seize him and kill him (Psalm 59: cf. 1 Samuel 19:11–18).

As you read Psalm 57, remember David is hiding in a cave. Refuge is a common word in the psalms. David uses it frequently. He needed God as His refuge so often because he had no other safe place. Notice the word refuge in Psalm 57 (and in Psalm 59), and see how he describes those who are after him:

My soul is among lions;
I am lying down among those who breathe forth fire,
Sons of men whose teeth are spears and arrows
And their tongue a sharp sword.
Psalm 57:4 LSB

There’s a sharp change in verse 5. How does David describe God in the rest of the psalm and how does he describe himself?

Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.
Psalm 57:5 LSB

Psalm 58 describes the wicked: their heart and their actions. Notice that David is asking to God to take vengeance.

O God, shatter their teeth in their mouth;
Break out the fangs of the young lions, O Yahweh.
Psalm 58:6 LSB

Derek Kidner writes:

“With its passion for justice, the Psalter does not allow us to get used to the scandal of evil in high places. David’s outcry against human despots is matched by Asaph’s in Psalm 82 against principalities and powers…

“A change of form marks off each stanza from its fellows, as the tyrants are first addressed (1f.), then described (3–5), prayed against (6–9), and finally, at their downfall, rejoiced over (10f.).”1

The superscription of Psalm 59 is:

For the choir director. Al-tashheth. Of David. A Mikhtam. When Saul sent men and they watched the house in order to put him to death.
Psalm 57 LSB

Kidner explains the occasion of this psalm, when his wife, Michal, let David down through a window so he could escape from her father, King Saul:

“David’s night escape from an upper window of his house (1 Sa. 19:11ff.). gives the psalm its urgency, its sense of outrage—’for no fault of mine’ (4)—its scorn of the nocturnal prowlers who would trap him (6f., 14f.) and its fierce delight in God’s deliverance. But the adventure and its song have flowered into something greater so that ‘all the nations’ (5, 8) and ‘the ends of the earth’ are in view in the completed psalm, which must be dated after David’s accession, when he can speak of ‘my people’ (11) and of the world-wide repercussions of his enemies’ defeat (13). The psalm has, in fact, much in common with Psalm 2, just as David the outlaw showed all the promise of David the king.”2

Alec Motyer titles Psalm 59, A Trial of Strength, because of,

“the fourfold references to ‘strong’ and ‘strength’ around which the psalm is written: the first reference is to how strong3 the enemies are (3). The exclamation in verse 9, ‘his strength’, the strength of David’s God, ‘your strength’ (16), and finally God as ‘my strength’ (17).”4

Notice also in this psalm how often David calls God his stronghold. The word describes:

“…properly, “a secure high, retreat” (BDB [Brown-Driver-Briggs]); a stronghold, well-protected from attackers because too high for ordinary climbing; a safe, fortified high place (not a cultic high place, 1116/bāmâ); impregnable location, preeminently used of Yahweh (Ps 9:10, 18:3, 59:10).”5

David writes:

For behold, they have lain in wait for my soul;
Fierce3 men launch an attack against me,
Not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Yahweh,
Psalm 59:3 LSB
Because of his strength I will watch for You,
For God is my stronghold.
Psalm 59:9 LSB
But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength;
And I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For You have been my stronghold
Psalm 59:16 LSB
O my strength, I will sing praises to You;
For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.
Psalm 59:17 LSB

Remember these psalms. They are God’s Word. They are handholds for you in your day of distress. Even as in David’s day, God is our strength, our stronghold, and our refuge.

For a brief overview of the structure and poetry of Psalms see my post, The Five Books of Psalms.
Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Michal lowering David from a window from The Bible panorama, or The Holy Scriptures in picture and story: Public domain.
1,2Derek Kidner, Psalms 1–72, (Inter-Varsity Press, London, England: 1973) 207–208, 211.
3,4Alec Motyer, Psalms By The Day: A New Devotional Translation (Christian Focus Publications Ltd, Ross-shire, Scotland, U.K. 2016) 155, Motyer translates “fierce” in verse 3 as “strong”; 155.
5miśgāb̠, Psalm 59:9, HELPS Lexicon, The Discovery Bible. Retrieved 17 May 2023.

I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.

Copyright ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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