Psalms 57 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
This Psalm resembles the preceding Psalm in thought, language, and structure. It breathes the same lofty spirit of confidence in the presence of danger; it begins with the same cry, ‘be gracious unto me,’ and uses the same word ( Psa 57:3) to express the enemy’s ferocity; it has two principal divisions, each closed with a refrain ( Psa 57:5 ; Psa 57:11). But it has also marked characteristics of its own in thought, language, and rhythm. Its tone is more triumphant; and it is distinguished by the use of the figure, common in lyrical poetry, of ‘epizeuxis,’ or emphatic repetition of words ( Psa 57:1 ; Psa 57:3 ; Psa 57:7-8).
The title attributes the Psalm to David when he was “in the cave” during his flight from Saul. It is doubtful whether the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22), or the cave in the wilderness of En-gedi, on the western shore of the Dead Sea (1 Samuel 24), is meant. The reference to enemies caught in their own trap ( Psa 57:6) may perhaps point to the latter occasion. There is nothing in the Psalm (not even Psa 57:9, see note), inconsistent with its Davidic authorship, but on the other hand nothing decisively in favour of it. It may have been written to illustrate this episode in David’s fugitive life. This Psalm, like the preceding one, has been explained as a prayer of the suffering nation: but its language is certainly more appropriate to an individual than to the nation.
The Psalm consists of two divisions, each ending with the same refrain, an appeal to God to manifest His supreme and universal sovereignty.
i. Prayer for protection and confident anticipation of help in the midst of imminent danger (Psa 57:1-5).
ii. Resolution to give thanks to God for His goodness in the certain prospect that the malice of enemies will recoil upon themselves (Psa 57:6-11).
The Psalm is appointed as a Proper Psalm for Easter Day, partly as an appropriate thanksgiving for Christ’s triumph over the powers of Death and Hell; partly because the refrain is the expression of the Messianic hope which finds its guarantee in the triumph of the Resurrection (1Co 15:24-28).
The melody to which this Psalm, as well as the two following Psalms and also Psalms 75, was to be sung is described as Al-tashchçth, i.e. ‘Destroy not.’ Of the song which gave this title it is possible that “a trace is still preserved in Isa 65:8. ‘When the new wine is found in the cluster,’ says the prophet, ‘men say, ‘Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it.’ These words in the Hebrew have a distinct lyric rhythm. They are the first line of one of the vintage songs so often alluded to in Scripture. And so we learn that the early religious melody of Israel had a popular origin, and was closely connected with the old joyous life of the nation.” Robertson Smith, Old Test, in the Jewish Church, p. 209.
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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".