Psalm 57


In this psalm David laments over the situation he find himself in, that is, on the run from King Saul, but he was confident that God would continue to deliver the righteous and bring judgment on the wicked. Verses 7-11 are identical with Psalm 108:1-5.


‘‘For the director of music. To the tune of ‘Do Not Destroy.’ Of David. A miktam. When he had fled from Saul into the cave.’

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding about the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

The heading tells us that this psalm of David for the director of music. Some commentators believe that ‘director or music’ is God Himself and others believe that it is a song leader who led choirs or musicians, 1 Chronicles 6:33 / 1 Chronicles 16:17 / 1 Chronicles 25:6.

The psalm was to be directed to the ‘tune of a do not destroy’, no one knows what this tune was but some suggest it reflects David’s words to Saul, 1 Samuel 26:9.

The word, ‘miktam’ means golden, hence why it’s often referred to as the ‘golden psalm’. However, there are others who believe that the word ‘miktam’ may have some musical meaning.

Still others believe that the word means to cover, when we look at other psalms with the same heading, Psalms 56-60, they all appear to be written in times of distress, which leads some to believe that the word ‘miktam’ has the idea of covering the lips in the sense of secrecy. In other words, these are silent or secret psalms which were whispered during times of distress.

The historical setting was David’s flight from Saul. On this occasion he hid in a cave near the camp of Saul, 1 Samuel 22:1 / 1 Samuel 24:1-8.

‘Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed’. Psalm 57:1

David begins by telling us that God is his ‘refuge’, Psalm 56:1, but notice David starts this Psalm by pleading for mercy twice, this tells us just how desperate he is.

But he’s not pleading mercy from Saul, he’s pleading mercy from God. He’s not relying on Saul changing his mind, he’s relying on God saving him from Saul. Not for one minute did David trust Saul but he trusted God wholeheartedly.

He was probably around twenty years old when he wrote this psalm and he knew, as long as Saul was chasing him, like chicks to the hen, he would take refuge in the shadow of God’s wings, Psalm 17:8 / Psalm 36:7.

God is bigger than any disaster we’re going through right now and although He doesn’t promise to remove those disasters from our lives. He does promise to give us shelter from them, until those disasters have passed. The question is, who to do you turn to when disaster strikes and who is your shelter?

‘I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me—God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.’ Psalm 57:2-3

The world turns to drugs, alcohol and antidepressants when times of disaster strikes, but David turned to God in his time of disaster. David says, if we’re facing a disaster right now, there are five things we need to do.

1. David says we need to ‘speak to God’.

David cried out to God Most High, he spoke to God, he poured his heart to God in prayer. When disaster strikes, and all hope seems to disappear, then speak to God about it, 1 Peter 3:12.

Prayer isn’t for God’s benefit, it’s for our benefit and when we cry out to God for help, it reminds us of our reliance upon Him to help us out. David says, we won’t get through any disaster if don’t first speak to God, Ephesians 3:20.

2. David says we need to ‘remind ourselves of everything God has already done in our life.’

David says it’s ‘God, who vindicates him’, that word, ‘vindicate’ means to complete or to finish. He’s saying that God is not like men, who make huge promises and don’t fulfil them.

He remembers how God helped in the past, he remembers how Saul promised time and time again that he wouldn’t kill him. But he knows that God would once again deliver from the hands of Saul.

When we’re going through any disaster and remember what God has done for us in the past, then we can be sure we are in safe hands.

3. David says we need to ‘rely on God to send help.’

David says that ‘God sends from heaven and save him’. Let me ask you, who does God send to help us when disaster strikes? Now God could and does send His people who are living here on earth to help those who are going through disasters.

But notice that David says, ‘God sends help from heaven.’ In other words, this is divine help and the only beings I know which would fit into this category are angels, Hebrews 1:14. The Hebrew writer asks this question and the answer is ‘yes’, God’s angels are sent by God to serve us.

How do the angels go about their work? That’s for them to know, we’re simply to have faith in our heavenly Father’s promised care for His people.

4. David says we need to ‘trust that God will deal with our enemies’.

David says, God will, ‘rebuke those who hotly pursue him’. The idea here is that David’s troubles wanted to swallow him up, but God would swallow up David’s troubles.

5. David says we need to ‘remember God’s mercy and truth.’

The N.I.V. says, says, ‘God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.’ Psalm 40:11. But the K.J.V. has a more accurate translation of this verse where it says, ‘God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.’

Notice that mercy and truth are personified here and are poetically represented as ministers of God. They are pictured as standing in God’s presence ready to do whatever it takes to save a person’s soul.

They too, like the angels, are sent from heaven, to save David from the hands of Saul and his men. David needed mercy to be saved from Saul but David also needed truth. Many people had lied about him and even Saul himself, went about spreading lies about him.

And so, David realises he needs not only salvation from Saul but he needed the truth about himself to be known. He wanted people to know that God wanted him to be king of Israel, this wasn’t his idea, he wanted God to reveal to everyone the real character of David.

David says if we’re going through a disaster of any kind, we must speak to God first and trust that He will send help to deliver us from our enemies. He wants us to remember that ‘God is our refuge.’

You may notice at the end of verse three, some translations have the word, ‘selah’, although no-one really knows what this word means, it’s likely it means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.

We can almost imagine David pausing for a breath as he contemplates how God helps him in his time of need.

‘I am in the midst of lions; I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.’ Psalm 57:4

Not only is God our refuge, David says that ‘He’s also our protector’. Now remember when it comes to lions David knew all about them. He fought a lion as a youth when it attacked his sheep, 1 Samuel 17:34-37, but there’s an important point we shouldn’t miss here.

Notice that David says, ‘the LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.’ 1 Samuel 17:37. In other words, he knew he couldn’t escape that lion by his own power and his own ability, He needed God to rescue him from the lion.

Remember when Daniel was put in the lion’s den because prayed to God? Remember what he said to king Darius when he survived the night with the lions? ‘My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions.’ Daniel 6:22.

Daniel survived the night with the lions because God protected him. Daniel was in the lion’s den but here David is in the lion’s cave. And just like Daniel, he knew he couldn’t escape these lions without God’s protection.

David isn’t speaking about literal lions here, he’s describing his enemies. They are ‘ravenous beasts, men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.’ David knew his enemies really well, he knew what they were really like. He knew that they were looking for any opportunity and any excuse to devour him.

Do you know that we have an enemy who want to devour us too? ‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.’ 1 Peter 5:8.

David knows if God can protect him from literal lions, he knows God can protect him from all these lion-like men. And as Christians, we too should have the confidence to know that our God will protect us from our enemies, 2 Timothy 4:17-18.

God protected Daniel from the lions, God protected David from the lions, God protected Paul from the lions and He will certainly protect us when the devil and lion-like men attack us.

‘Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. They spread a net for my feet—I was bowed down in distress. They dug a pit in my path—but they have fallen into it themselves.’ Psalm 57:5-6

David has just been speaking about his enemies but now he suddenly turns his attention to God. He saw Saul and his men, these lion-like men chasing him and hunting him like a dog.

He’s constantly on the run, knowing that they have set traps for him and dug pits for him to fall into. He’s feeling the pressure in his soul, but for a moment, he stops and thinks, he turns his attention to God.

He knows that Saul and his men have fallen into the very nets and pits that they set for David to fall into. He has only one thing on his mind, ‘God, let your glory be over all the earth.’ Psalm 8:1.

When we turn our attention away from our enemies and turn to towards God, then the situation we’re in, will change our perspective.

David didn’t cry out, why is this happening to me? He didn’t throw himself a pity party and stay in that cave until Saul and his men had gone. David’s men wanted to kill Saul, but David spared his life. In other words, God allowed David to face these lions because He wanted David to learn to trust Him and David learned that lesson.

God allowed David to face these lions because He wanted David to set the example for those who were watching him and throughout his life he set that example. God is God our refuge and God is our protector.

You may notice at the end of verse six, some translations have the word, ‘selah’, although no-one really knows what this word means, it’s likely it means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.

We can almost imagine David pausing for a breath as he contemplates how God protected him from his lion-like enemies.

‘My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.’ Psalm 57:7-10

David finishes by reminded us that, ‘God is our deliverer’. He had no hesitation in celebrating the fact that God delivered him from Saul and his men. While David struggled with discouragement and fear, he knew that God would be there to save him.

Notice how sure David was that God would save him, he went from a double request for mercy to a double confession of steadfastness. In other words, he went from fear to faith, from worry to calmness, from despair to security. His heart is now confident, and with a confident heart, he can’t wait to sing praises to God.

His heart is now awake, and he wants to use the harp and lyre to wake the dawn with a song, 1 Samuel 16:23 / 1 Samuel 18:10 / 1 Samuel 19:9 / Psalm 33:2. He wants to thank God in front of everyone, Psalm 18:49, while he proclaims the vastness of God’s love, and the greatness of God’s faithfulness, Psalm 36:5.

And notice again how David repeats himself, what he wrote in verse 5, he repeats here in Psalm 57:11, ‘Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth’. He doesn’t exalt himself, he doesn’t exalt any man, he wants God to be exalted so that His glory can be seen all over the earth.


In this psalm, David openly admitted that he was living among the ‘lions’, and he openly spoke about those lion-like men who were his enemies. As Christians, we too, are living amidst the lions but we must never forget that we too, have a Lion fighting for us.

When John, in a vision is looking for someone who is worthy to open the scrolls, and it appears that no one can be found, he wept and wept, but then, out of nowhere one of the elders says, ‘do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.’ Revelation 5:5.

When life gets tough and all seems lost, when the lions of this life bring us to our knees and all we want to do is weep. Then remember what Jesus, the Lion of Judah has done, He has been victorious in defeating the lions of sin and death.

I think it would be useful if congregations, spoke about their troubles more openly. We’re very reluctant to speak about when we’re facing the lions, because when we ask most Christians, how they’re getting on, most of the time people say, ‘I’m fine thanks, I’m doing great.’

There’s a huge television campaign on at the moment which I’m sure your aware of, which is trying to encourage people to talk more. This is aimed to help us with our mental health, but how much more important is it, for Christians to speak about their problems more openly, to help with their spiritual health.

Wouldn’t it be great if we openly spoke to each other about the lions we are facing? When we do that, we soon realise we’re not the only ones who are facing those lions. But not only should be openly speak about the lions we’re facing, but we should also openly speak about how delivered us from the mouth of those lions.

We would praise God together more often, we would exalt God together more often, we would sing of God’s love and faithfulness together more often.

God’s glory will shine brighter in this dark world, as we give Him all the glory for everything He has done in the past, continues to do in our lives today and will do in the future, Isaiah 12:2 / 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

Go To Psalm 58


"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."

John 5:24