Psalms 54 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
This Psalm consists of two divisions, separated by Selah.
i. A prayer for help in imminent peril from godless enemies (Psa 54:1-3).
ii. A profession of unshaken confidence that God will defend and avenge the Psalmist, with a vow of thanksgiving for the deliverance which he is well assured is in store for him (Psa 54:4-7).
The title refers the Psalm to the time of David’s persecution by Saul. When David became aware that the men of Keilah, with selfish ingratitude, intended to surrender him to Saul, he fled with his men to the wilderness of Ziph, a district to the S. E. of Hebron. But the Ziphites “came up to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us in the strong holds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of the desert?” (1Sa 23:19). Saul came down to seek David, who was in imminent peril of being surrounded and captured, when Saul was compelled to withdraw in order to repel a Philistine raid. On a subsequent occasion (unless the narrative in 1Sa 26:1 ff is only another account of the same incident) the Ziphites repeated their treachery, and again betrayed David’s hiding-place.
It is argued that this reference is excluded by the description of the Psalmist’s enemies in Psa 54:3 as ‘strangers’ and ‘violent men,’ terms elsewhere applied to foreign oppressors This no doubt is the general meaning of the words; but it is difficult to say positively (see note) that they could not have been applied to Israelites. Otherwise the Psalm suits the occasion. If not written by David, it may have been placed in his mouth by some later Psalmist. But its language is so general, that no positive conclusion can be formed from its contents as to the particular circumstances under which it was composed.
The Psalm is a Proper Psalm for Good Friday.
The title may be rendered with R.V., For the chief Musician; on stringed instruments. Maschil of David: when the Ziphites came and said to Saul, Doth not David hide himself with us?
Consult other comments:
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".