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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Psalms 57

Al-taschith signifies destroy not; which some think to be a preface containing the sum of the Psalm, and reminding David of his great distress, in which he then was; which obliged him to make fervent prayers to God that he would not destroy him, nor give him up into the hands of his enemies, who always designed and desired to destroy him, and now seemed to have a fair opportunity to do it.

The cave; either,

1. That of Adullam, 1 Samuel 22:1; or,

2. That of En-gedi, 1 Samuel 24:1.

The psalmist in prayer fleeth to God for protection and favour in his dangerous condition, Psalms 57:1-5; describeth the wicked projects of his enemies, Psalms 57:6, and encourageth himself from God’s mercy to praise him, Psalms 57:7-11.

Verse 1

Be merciful unto me: the repetition implies both the greatness of his danger, and the fervency of his spirit in this request, and withal that his whole trust and hope was in God’s mercy. In the shadow of thy wings, i.e. of thy protection; to which alone I trust, and not to the shadow of this dark cave, in which I now hide myself. These calamities; or, the time of these calamities, which I know will shortly have an end.

Verse 2

Heb. that performeth (or perfecteth, or finisheth, as this word is rendered, Psalms 138:8, i.e. will certainly perform or finish) for, or towards, or concerning me. He doth not express what he performeth, or perfecteth, or fulfilleth, but leaveth it to be understood, as being easy to be understood.

He performeth, or perfecteth, to wit, all that he hath promised; engageth himself to perform what he hath begun to do, or what is yet to be performed; it being usual in the Hebrew language to understand a verbal noun after the verb. He implies that God is not like men, who make large promises, but either through inability, or carelessness, or unfaithfulness, do not perform them, but will certainly be as good as his word.

Verse 3

He shall send, either,

1. His angels, as Daniel 3:28. Or,

2. His help. Or,

3. His hand; which is understood after this verb, 2 Samuel 6:6, by comparing 1 Chronicles 13:9, where it is expressed. Or rather,

4. His mercy and his truth as it here follows, where also this verb is repeated before those words. Save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up, i.e. from that shameful destruction which they design to bring upon me. Or rather, as it is rendered in the margin of our Bible, and by many others, and as it is in the Hebrew, he hath reproached (i.e. he will certainly put to shame or reproach) him that would swallow me up, by disappointing his expectation, and delivering me from his rage.

Shall send forth his mercy and his truth, i.e. shall discover them by their proper fruits, to wit, by affording his gracious help in pursuance of his promises.

Verse 4

I live in the midst of a generation of fierce and bloody men; which both in Scripture and other authors are oft called lions.

I lie, I have my abode and conversation, even among (which particle is easily borrowed out of the foregoing clause)

them that are set on fire, to wit, of or from hell, as is fully expressed, James 3:6; who are mere fire-brands and incendiaries, that are continually breathing out their wrath and threatenings, and incensing Saul against me. The sons of men; whereby he explains what he meant by lions, and tells us they were beasts in the shape of men.

Teeth; which may be considered, either,

1. As instruments of destruction, as they are in lions. Or rather,

2. As instruments of speech, as they are in men; for it here follows by way of explication, as the manner is, and their tongue. And both seem to signify their wicked and pernicious calumnies, of which he every where complains, and particularly in the history to which this Psalm seems to relate, 1 Samuel 24:10, and by which they designed to promote his destruction.

Are spears and arrows, i.e. they grievously wound my name, and are devised to do me mischief.

Verse 5

Be thou exalted; glorify thy power, and goodness, and justice, and faithfulness by my deliverance, all which are exposed to censure and reproach, whilst thou sufferest ungodly wretches to oppress and triumph over the innocent and righteous, that put their trust in thee.

Above the heavens, i.e. higher than the heavens, or to the highest degree possible; or above all the false gods which are supposed to reside in heaven.

Above all the earth, i.e. above all men upon earth, some whereof do now audaciously lift up themselves against thee, and above thee. Or, through (as the Hebrew particle is commonly rendered, and it is no new thing to have the same word or particle diversely taken in the same verse, as hath been formerly showed) the whole earth; not only amongst thine own people, but so that the heathens shall be forced to acknowledge and admire thy glorious deeds.

Verse 6

Is bowed down; or, was bowed down: I was even ready to fall and perish. Or, mine heart was oppressed, and almost overwhelmed.

Before me, Heb. before my face; not in my sight, for that would have been in vain, Proverbs 1:17; but in my way, where they thought I would go. They are fallen themselves: this was fulfilled in Saul, who by pursuing fell into his hands, 1 Samuel 24:4.

Verse 7

Fixed, or established, in a full assurance of thy merciful help. It was ready to sink with fear, or bowed down, Psalms 57:6; but now I have through thy grace conquered my fears, and am fixed in a stedfast belief of thy promises. Or, is prepared, to wit, to sing and give praise, as it follows.

Verse 8

My glory; either,

1. My soul; or rather,

2. My tongue, the instrument of singing, which he was now about to do, Psalms 57:7,Psalms 57:9.

I myself will awake early; I will rouse up and employ all the powers of my soul and body to set forth God’s praises.

Verse 9

Among the people; in the great congregations; amongst the Israelites of all tribes, who are called by this name, Deuteronomy 33:19, and amongst the heathens, as I shall have occasion, as he often had.

Verse 10

i.e. Is most evident, and greatly exalted.

Verse 11

See Poole "Psalms 57:5".

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 57". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.