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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Psalms 57


This psalm offers a good example of the way in which hymns were sometimes composed for the congregation It is plainly the work of a man with a fine poetic sense. The imagery is striking, and the versification regular and pleasing. A refrain divides it into two equal pieces, each falling into two stanzas of six lines. Yet it is plainly a composition from older hymns. (Comp. especially Psalms 36:5-6; Psalms 56:2-3; Psalms 7:15; Psalms 9:15.) The second part has itself in turn been used by another compiler. (See Psalms 108:0)

Title.—See Psalms 4, 16, title, and comp. titles of Psalms 58, 59, 75

Al-taschithi.e., destroy not, the first words of some song to the tune of which this was to be sung.

Verse 1

(1) Trusteth.—Better, has taken refuge. The future of the same verb occurs in the next clause.

Shadow of thy wings.—See Note, Psalms 17:8.

Until these calamities.Danger of destruction gives the feeling of the Hebrew better than “camities.”

Verse 2

(2) Peformeth all things for me.—Literally, completes for me, which may be explained from the analogy of Psalms 138:8. But as the LXX. and Vulg. have “my benefactor” (reading gomçl for gomçr) we may adopt that emendation.

Verse 3

(3) He shall send . . .—The selah in the middle of this verse is as much out of place as in Psalms 55:19. The LXX. place it after Psalms 57:2. The marginal correction of the second clause is decidedly to be adopted, the word “reproach” is here being used in the sense of “rebuke.” For the verb “send,” used absolutely, comp. Psalms 18:16.

Verse 4

(4) Them that are set on fire.—Rather, greedy ones (literally, lickers) in apposition to lions. The verse expresses the insecurity of the poet, who, his dwelling being in the midst of foes, must go to sleep every night with the sense of danger all round him. (See LXX.) How grandly the refrain in Psalms 57:8 rises from such a situation.

Verse 6

(6) A net.—For this image, so common in Hebrew hymns, see Psalms 9:15, &c, and for that of the pit, Psalms 7:15, &c

My soul is bowed down.—The verb so rendered is everywhere else transitive. So LXX. and Vulg. here, “And have pressed down my soul.” Despite the grammar, Ewald alters “my soul” into “their soul.” But no conjecture of the kind restores the parallelism, which is here hopelessly lost. We expect,

They have prepared a net for my steps;
They are caught in it themselves.

Verse 7

(7) Fixed.—Better, steadfast (See Psalms 51:10, Note.)

Verse 8

(8) My glory.—See Note, Psalms 7:5.

I myself will awake early.—Perhaps, rather, I will rouse the dawn. Comp Ovid. Met. xi. 597, where the cock is said evocare Auroram; and Milton, still more nearly:

“Oft listening how the hounds and horn,
Cheerily rouse the slumbering morn”—L’Allegro.)

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 57". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.