A Psalm a Day: Psalm 56

Throughout September 2022, I managed to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. For December 2022, attempted to pick up the discipline. I got part-way through that month, and so after a long hiatus, am determined to get going. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:

  • What is this Psalm about?
  • What does this Psalm teach about God?
  • How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?

I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.

psalm 56

On the 13th of October 2023, here’s Psalm 56:

Be merciful to me, my God,
    for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
    all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
    in their pride many are attacking me.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?

All day long they twist my words;
    all their schemes are for my ruin.
They conspire, they lurk,
    they watch my steps,
    hoping to take my life.
Because of their wickedness do not let them escape;
    in your anger, God, bring the nations down.

Record my misery;
    list my tears on your scroll—
    are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back
    when I call for help.
    By this I will know that God is for me.

10 In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can man do to me?

12 I am under vows to you, my God;
    I will present my thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered me from death
    and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
    in the light of life.

What is this Psalm about?

This is a Psalm about trusting God in the face of immediate danger – David finds himself with his ‘enemies in hot pursuit’ (v.1). It is a Psalm whose shortest verse is perhaps the most challenging – ‘When I am afraid I put my trust in you’ (v. 3). This is a Psalm about trusting God in the normal, less normal, and downright terrible times of life.

What does this Psalm teach about God?

The God that Psalm 56 speaks about is a God who can grant mercy (v.1), who can be trusted, who has the power to bring down nations (v. 7) and more. Verse 11 teaches that the God who can be trusted is also the God who can make those who trust him ‘not afraid’, which is a powerful thing. The closing words of the Psalm teach that God is worthy of worship, and that God delivers from death.

How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?

It’s unlikely that anyone reading my reflection on this Psalm today is being pursued unto death by enemies. It is likely that someone reading Psalm 56 is weeping, is sad – and verse 8 offers a profound reassurance that tears are recorded and noted by God. This is a God who can take away fear, who brings light to lives that can be dark.

A prayer drawn from Psalm 

Be merciful to me, God. When I am afraid, help me to put my trust in you. You know every particle of me, every aspect of my tears and pain is not beyond your sight. Lead me to walk before you, God, in the light of life. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *