Megan (jehoshabeath) wrote,

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Three Psalms in context

This morning I was curious to see if there were any psalms composed during the period of 1st Samuel. I skimmed through the poem headers and found a few. It's incredibly refreshing to read these in context. In my ignorance of Jewish history, I have an unfortunate tendency to gloss over the book of Psalms aimlessly and randomly. Each psalm seems the same and no one seems very different from the next. But the psalms were written by real people in very real life situations. They are each unique and precious if one will patiently and carefully seek them out. Come listen to David during the years of 1 Samuel!

Just a note before I start - I'm fairly certain that I fit these psalms in their proper places, but I could be mistaken. Only Scripture is without error, so let it speak for itself (Psalm 18:30, Psalm 19:7).

Context: Saul has been anointed king by the prophet Samuel and his kingship is recognized by the people after his victory against the Ammonites at Jabesh Gilead. However, Saul is not fully devoted to the Lord. This is revealed when he offers a sacrifice in place of Samuel. Later, Saul disobeys a direct command from God to destroy Amalek and God rejects him from being king.

God then sends his prophet Samuel to anoint David as king. David is called to serve as a musician before Saul and later shows his courage in battle by defeating the champion Goliath. Initially, Saul is very pleased with David; but he soon begins to view David as a threat because of David's popularity. Saul decides to kill David. One day, while David is playing music to comfort Saul from the evil spirit, Saul attempts to kill David with a spear. David escapes and is later brought back into the presence of Saul at the prompting of Saul's son Jonathan. Later, Saul again tries to spear David while he plays music, but David escapes to his house. This time, Saul sends messengers after David, but David's wife Michal helps him to escape the city.

In Psalm 59, David asks God to defend him and to save him. He trusts in God's justice and mercy, confident that he will sing in the morning. David calls God "my defense," "refuge," "my God of mercy," "Lord our shield," and "my Strength."

Psalm 59
To the Chief Musician. Set to "Do Not Destroy." A Michtam of David when Saul sent men, and they watched the house in order to kill him.

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
Defend me from those who rise up against me.
Deliver me from the workers of iniquity,
And save me from bloodthirsty men.

For look, they lie in wait for my life;
The mighty gather against me,
Not for my transgression nor for my sin, O LORD.
They run and prepare themselves through no fault of mine.

Awake to help me, and behold!
You therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel,
Awake to punish all the nations;
Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah

At evening they return,
They growl like a dog,
And go all around the city.
Indeed, they belch with their mouth;
Swords are in their lips;
For they say, “Who hears?”

But You, O LORD, shall laugh at them;
You shall have all the nations in derision.
I will wait for You, O You his Strength;
For God is my defense.
My God of mercy shall come to meet me;
God shall let me see my desire on my enemies.

Do not slay them, lest my people forget;
Scatter them by Your power,
And bring them down,
O Lord our shield.
For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips,
Let them even be taken in their pride,
And for the cursing and lying which they speak.
Consume them in wrath, consume them,
That they may not be;
And let them know that God rules in Jacob
To the ends of the earth. Selah

And at evening they return,
They growl like a dog,
And go all around the city.
They wander up and down for food,
And howl if they are not satisfied.

But I will sing of Your power;
Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning;
For You have been my defense
And refuge in the day of my trouble.
To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises;
For God is my defense,
My God of mercy.

Context: After David escapes from the city, he flees to Samuel at Ramah. Saul pursues him with messengers and later goes himself, but he and all his messengers end up prophesying and David escapes. Jonathan can't believe that his father is trying to kill David, but after he learns that this is indeed the case, he warns David and bids him a mournful farewell.

From here, David flees to Nob where he stops to ask the priest for food and weapons. He then seeks refuge in various places. Meanwhile, Saul is told that Ahimelech the priest assisted David in Nob, and so Saul kills the priests and destroys their city.

In Psalm 52, David begins by considering the destructive, lying tongue of the enemy. (This makes me pause to contrast the life-giving words of God with the murdering, lying words of the evil one.) After this, David turns his thoughts to the future, remembering what is to come for the wicked man and what is to come for the man who makes God his strength.

Psalm 52
To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of David when Doeg the Edomite went and told Saul, and said to him, "David has gone to the house of Ahimelech."

Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man?
The goodness of God endures continually.
Your tongue devises destruction,
Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.
You love evil more than good,
Lying rather than speaking righteousness. Selah
You love all devouring words,
You deceitful tongue.

God shall likewise destroy you forever;
He shall take you away, and pluck you out of your dwelling place,
And uproot you from the land of the living. Selah
The righteous also shall see and fear,
And shall laugh at him, saying,
“Here is the man who did not make God his strength,
But trusted in the abundance of his riches,
And strengthened himself in his wickedness.”

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.
I will praise You forever,
Because You have done it;
And in the presence of Your saints
I will wait on Your name, for it is good.

Context: After this, David fights against the Philistines in Keilah and defeats them. Saul plans to trap David in Keilah, but he escapes into the wilderness of Ziph. Saul continues to seek David's life and is pleased when the Ziphites inform him of David's whereabouts. Saul is dreadfully close to overcoming David, but he is called away to defend the country against Philistine forces. Later, the people of Ziph again report to Saul and he returns on a mission to kill David.

In Psalm 54, David cries out for rescue from strangers who have "not set God before them." He hopes in God's salvation and God's judgment with thanksgiving.

Psalm 54
To the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. A Contemplation of David when the Ziphites went and said to Saul, "Is David not hiding with us?"

Save me, O God, by Your name,
And vindicate me by Your strength.
Hear my prayer, O God;
Give ear to the words of my mouth.
For strangers have risen up against me,
And oppressors have sought after my life;
They have not set God before them. Selah

Behold, God is my helper;
The Lord is with those who uphold my life.
He will repay my enemies for their evil.
Cut them off in Your truth.

I will freely sacrifice to You;
I will praise Your name, O LORD, for it is good.
For He has delivered me out of all trouble;
And my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.
Tags: bible people, i samuel, psalms

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