John T. Willis

Sunday, February 26, 2017

God is Above the Heavens--Psalm 57

Psalm 57:7-11 is equivalent to Psalm 108:1-5. The historical setting of Psalm 57 is unknown. The superscription is: "To the Leader: Do not Destroy. Of David. A Miktam, when he fled from Saul, in the cave." All the superscriptions in the Psalms are later additions, and come from different people who want to connect a psalm with some historical event. The superscription of Psalm 57 is somehow related to David and his men hiding in a cave near En-gedi just west of the central part of the Dead Sea. Saul went into this cave to relieve himself, and when Saul was relieving himself, David cut off the hem of Saul's garment. After Saul left, David called out to Saul telling him he could have killed him, but refused to do so because Saul is the Lord's messiah or anointed one. 1 Samuel 24. But if Psalm 57 actually belongs to that event, no one knows with certainty. Read the content of Psalm 57.
Psalm 57 naturally falls into two sections indicated by the recurring refrain or chorus in verses 5 and 11:
      "Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
            Let your glory be over all the earth."

1. Psalm 57:1-5 is a confident cry for help in a time of severe trouble.
    a. "Destroying storms" encounter the psalmist. In the center of that difficult situation, the psalmist beseeches Yahweh to be merciful to him. The psalmist takes refuge in Yahweh during the destroying storms; he takes refuge in the shadow of Yahweh's wings. This is a striking figure of an eagle or a hen protecting her young when threats arise. 57:1.
    b. The psalmist cries out to God Most High, confident that God fulfills his purpose for the psalmist. He is sure that God will send his steadfast love and faithfulness from heaven above and save him. God will put to shame his enemies who attempt to trample on him. His enemies are like lions that greedily devour human prey, whose teeth are spear  and arrows and their tongues sharp swords. 57:2-4.
    c. In this first stanza, the psalmist declares: "Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let your glory be over all the earth." He envisions Yahweh as the universal God over all creation. 57:5.

2. Psalm 57:6-11 is a song of praise and thanksgiving to God for delivering the psalmist from his troubles. 57:6-11.
    a. The psalmist explains to his audience that his enemies set a net for his steps and he was bowed down. They dug a pit in his path, but Yahweh intervened and they have fall into this pit themselves. 57:6.
    b. Because of Yahweh's presence and protection, the psalmist says confidently: "My heart is steadfast." He will sing and make melody. Singing is vocal singing, and making melody is music intoned by musical instruments of various kinds. This is exactly the same language as that in Ephesians 5:19, where Paul instructs Christians to sing with their voices and to make melody with instrumental music by means of psalms, hymns, and spiritual song all with the heart, since vocal music and instrumental music are useless unless the worshippers express their thoughts from the heart (see Amos 5:21-24). Speaking to himself, the psalmist continues: "Awake, my soul! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn." 57:7-8.
    c. The psalmist declares he will give thanks to Yahweh among the peoples and sing praises to Yahweh among the nations. He will do this because Yahweh's steadfast love is as high as the heavens and his faithfulness extends to the clouds. 57:9-10.
    d. Finally, the psalmist concludes by repeated 57:5: "Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let your glory be over all the earth." True worship always exalts Yahweh. 57:11.

Share YOUR experiences and worship services and expressions of faith and love and compassion with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis



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