Psalm 56 concludes in verses 12-13 with the psalmist expressing her or his gratitude to Yahweh for delivering her of him from dangerous enemies:
"My vows to you I must perform, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
and my feet from falling,
so that I may walk before God
in the light of life."
1. When the worshipper is in great trouble, he or she pleads with Yahweh for help, and vows to show his or her gratitude to Yahweh in some meaningful way when the deliverance comes. An Israelite man or woman who became a Nazirite for a designated period of time did so by taking a vow. During the time they were a Nazirite, they vowed not to eat or drink anything that came from grapes, to bring no razor on their head or beard, and not to touch a dead body--Numbers 6:1-8. They are strictly bound to bring an offering to Yahweh in accordance with their Nazirite vow--Numbers 6:21. Numbers 30; Deuteronomy 23:21-23; and Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 admonish men and women to honor their vows to Yahweh and not to break their word. Leviticus 22:17-25 states that when a worshipper offers a sacrifice as a vow, that sacrifice must be without blemish and in keeping with what the law prescribes. Psalmists often declare that they will pay the vows they have made to Yahweh for delivering them from great affliction--see for example Psalms 22:25; 50:14; 61:5, 8; 65:1; 66:13; 116:14, 18.
2. Thanksgiving is the appropriate, natural human response to God's help and deliverance--see Psalms 7:17; 9:1; 28:7; 35:18; 50:14, 23; 116:17; etc. Psalm 107 contains four concrete examples of people whom Yahweh delivered, and whom the psalmist summons to give Yahweh thanks for doing so.
3. All people "walk (live) before God (in God's living presence)" whether they realize it or not. God tells Abraham in Genesis 17:1: "I am God Almighty [El Shaddai]; walk before me, and be blameless." Hebrews 4:13 says: "And before him [God] no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account."
4. "The light of life" is God's brilliant presence which dispels the darkness of wicked angelic creatures and wicked human beings which leads to death. Jesus says in John 8:12: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." Light and life are closely connected throughout scripture. John describes Jesus this way in John 1:3b: "What has come into being in him [Christ] was life, and the life was the light of all people." See further Acts 26:17-18; Ephesians 5:6-14.
Psalm 56 is an exemplary declaration of trust in God in the face of powerful, harmful enemies. The author encourages us not to fear the enemy, but to trust in the all-powerful Creator and Sustainer of all that is.