(The following texts highlighted in this color of blue is taken from
The Treasury of David by Charles Haddon Spurgeon) "Excerpted text
Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved. Materials are reproduced
TITLE. To the Chief Musician. So glad a song as this becomes ere it
closes, should be in the keeping of the most skilled of all the temple
minstrels. Altaschith, i.e., DESTROY NOT. This petition is a very
sententious prayer, as full as it is brief, and well worthy to be the motto for
a sacred song. David had said, "destroy not, "in reference to Saul, when he
had him in his power, and now he takes pleasure in employing the same
words in supplication to God. We may infer from the spirit of the Lord's
prayer, that the Lord will spare us as we spare our foes. There are four of
these "Destroy not" Psalms, namely, the 57th, 58th, 59th, and 75th. In all
of them there is a distinct declaration of the destruction of the wicked and
the preservation of the righteous, and they all have probably a reference to
the overthrow of the Jews, on account of their persecution of the great Son
of David: they will endure heavy chastisement, but concerning them it is
written in the divine decree, "Destroy them not." Michtam of David. For
quality this Psalm is called golden, or a secret, and it well deserves the
name. We may read the words and yet not know the secret joy of David,
which he has locked up in his golden casket. When he fled from Saul in the
cave. This is a song from the bowels of the earth, and, like Jonah's prayer
from the bottom of the sea, it has a taste of the place. The poet is in the
shadow of the cave at first, but he comes to the cavern's mouth at last, and
sings in the sweet fresh air, with his eye on the heavens, watching joyously
the clouds floating therein.
DIVISIONS. We have here prayer, vs. 1-6, and praise, vs. 7-11. The hunted
one takes a long breath of prayer, and when he is fully inspired, he breathes out
his soul in jubilant song.
1 “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me:” - Urgent need
suggests the repetition of the cry, for thus intense urgency of desire is
expressed. If `he gives twice who gives quickly, 'so he who would receive
quickly must ask twice. For mercy the psalmist pleads at first, and he feels
he cannot improve upon his plea, and therefore returns to it. God is the
God of mercy, and the Father of mercies, it is most fit therefore that in
distress he should seek mercy from Him in whom it dwells - “for my soul
trusteth in thee:” - Faith urges her suit right well. How can the
Lord be unmerciful to a trustful soul? Our faith does not deserve mercy,
but it always wins it from the sovereign grace of God when it is sincere, as
in this case where the soul of the man believed. "With the heart man
believeth unto righteousness." (Romans 10:10) - “yea, in the shadow
of thy wings will I make my refuge,” - Not in the cave alone would he
hide, but in the cleft of the Rock of ages. As the little birds find ample shelter
beneath the parental wing, even so would the fugitive place himself beneath the
secure protection of the divine power. The emblem is delightfully familiar and
suggestive. May we all experimentally know its meaning. When we cannot see
the sunshine of God's face, it is blessed to cower down beneath the shadow of His
wings - “until these calamities be overpast.” Evil will pass away, and the
eternal wings will abide over us till then. Blessed be God, our calamities are
matters of time, but our safety is a matter of eternity. When we are under
the divine shadow, the passing over of trouble cannot harm us; the hawk
flies across the sky, but this is no evil to the chicks when they are safely
nestling beneath the hen.
2 “I will cry” - He is quite safe, but yet he prays, for faith is never dumb.
We pray because we believe. We exercise by faith the spirit of adoption
whereby we cry. He says not I do cry, or I have cried, but I will cry, and
indeed, this resolution may stand with all of us until we pass through the
gates of pearl; for while we are here below we shall still have need to cry.
“unto God most high: - Prayers are for God only; the greatness and
sublimity of His person and character suggest and encourage prayer;
however high our enemies, our heavenly Friend is higher, for He is Most
high, and He can readily send from the height of His power the succor
which we need - “unto God that performeth all things for me.” - He has
cogent reason for praying, for he sees God performing. The believer waits and
God works. The Lord has undertaken for us, and He will not draw back, He
will go through with His covenant engagements. Our translators have very properly
inserted the words, "all things," for there is a blank in the Hebrew, as if it
were a carte blanche, and you might write therein that the Lord would
finish anything and everything which He has begun. Whatsoever the Lord
takes in hand He will accomplish; hence past mercies are guarantees for the
future, and admirable reasons for continuing to cry unto Him.
3 “He shall send from heaven,” - If there be no fit instruments on earth,
heaven shall yield up its legions of angels for the succor of the saints. We
may in times of great straits expect mercies of a remarkable kind; like the
Israelites in the wilderness, we shall have our bread hot from heaven, new
every morning; and for the overthrow of our enemies God shall open His
celestial batteries, and put them to utter confusion. Wherever the battle is
more fierce than ordinary, there shall come succors from headquarters,
for the Commander in chief sees all - “and save me from the reproach
of him that would swallow me up.” He will be in time, not only to rescue His
servants from being swallowed up, but even from being reproached. Not only
shall they escape the flames, but not even the smell of fire shall pass upon them.
O dog of hell, I am not only delivered from thy bite, but even from thy bark.
(Exodus 11:7) Our foes shall not have the power to sneer at us, their cruel
jests and taunting gibes shall be ended by the message from heaven, which
shall for ever save us. “Selah.” Such mercy may well make us pause to
meditate and give thanks. Rest, singer, for God has given thee rest!
“God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.” - He asked for mercy, and
truth came with it. Thus evermore doth God give us more than we ask or
think (Ephesians 3:20). His attributes, like angels on the wing, are ever ready to
come to the rescue of His chosen.
4 “My soul is among lions:” He was a very Daniel. Howled at, hunted,
wounded, but not slain. His place was in itself one of extreme peril, and yet
faith made him feel himself secure, so that he could lie down. The cave may
have reminded him of a lion's den, and Saul and his band shouting and
yelling in their disappointment at missing him, were the lions; yet beneath
the divine shelter he finds himself safe.
“and I lie even among them that are set on fire,” - Perhaps Saul and his
band kindled a fire in the cavern while they halted in it, and David was thus
reminded of the fiercer fire of their hate which burned within their hearts.
Like the bush in Horeb, the believer is often in the midst of flames, but
never consumed. It is a mighty triumph of faith when we can lie down even
among firebrands and find rest, because God is our defense - “even the
sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their
tongue a sharp sword.” Malicious men carry a whole armory in their
mouths; they have not harmless mouths, whose teeth grind their own food
as in a mill, but their jaws are as mischievous as if every tooth were a
javelin or an arrow. They have no molars, all their teeth are canines, and
their nature is canine, leonine, wolfish, devilish. As for that busy member
the tongue, in the case of the malicious, it is a two edged, keen, cutting,
killing sword. The tongue, which is here compared to a sword, has the
adjective sharp added to it, which is not used in reference to the teeth,
which are compared to spears, as if to show that if men were actually to
tear us with their teeth, like wild beasts, they could not thereby wound us
so severely as they can do with their tongues. No weapon is so terrible as a
tongue sharpened on the devil's grindstone; yet even this we need not fear,
for "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every
tongue that riseth against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn."
5 “Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens;” - This is the chorus of
the Psalm. Before he has quite concluded his prayer the good man
interjects a verse of praise; and glorious praise too, seeing it comes from
the lion's den and from amid the coals of fire. Higher than the heavens is
the Most High, and so high ought our praises to rise. Above even the
power of cherubim and seraphim to express it, the glory of God is revealed
and is to be acknowledged by us - “let thy glory be above all the earth.”
As above, so below, let thy praises, O thou great Jehovah, be universally
proclaimed. As the air surrounds all nature, so let thy praises gird the
earth with a zone of song.
6 “They have prepared a net for my steps;” - The enemies of the godly
spare no pains, but go about their wicked work with the coolest
deliberation. As for each sort of fish, or bird, or beast, a fitting net is
needed, so do the ungodly suit their net to their victim's circumstances and
character with a careful craftiness of malice. Whatever David might do, and
whichever way he might turn, his enemies were ready to entrap him in
some way or other - “my soul is bowed down:” - He was held down like
a bird in a trap; his enemies took care to leave him no chance of comfort.
“they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen
themselves.” He likens the design of his persecutors to pits, which were
commonly dug by hunters to entrap their prey; these were made in the
usual path of the victim, and in this case David says, before me, i.e., in my
ordinary way. He rejoices because these devices had recoiled upon
themselves. Saul hunted David, but David caught him more than once and
might have slain him on the spot. Evil is a stream which one day flows back
to its source. “Selah.” We may sit down at the pit's mouth and view with
wonder the just retaliations of providence.
7 “My heart is fixed,” - One would have thought he would have said,
"My heart is fluttered;" but no, he is calm, firm, happy, resolute,
established. When the central axle is secure, the whole wheel is right. If our
great bower anchor holds, the ship cannot drive. “O God, my heart is fixed:” –
I am resolved to trust thee, to serve thee, and to praise thee. Twice does he
declare this to the glory of God who thus comforts the souls of His servants.
Reader, it is surely well with thee, if thy once roving heart is now firmly fixed
upon God and the proclamation of His glory. “I will sing and give praise.”
Vocally and instrumentally will I celebrate thy worship. With lip and with heart
will I ascribe honor to thee. Satan shall not stop me, nor Saul, nor the Philistines,
I will make Adullam ring with music, and all the caverns thereof echo with joyous
song. Believer, make a firm decree that your soul in all seasons shall magnify the
"Sing, though sense and carnal reason
Fain would stop the joyful song:
Sing, and count it highest treason
For a saint to hold his tongue."
8 “Awake up, my glory;” - Let the noblest powers of my nature bestir
themselves: the intellect which conceives thought, the tongue which
expresses it, and the inspired imagination which beautifies it --let all be on
the alert now that the hour for praise has come - “awake, psaltery and harp.”
Let all the music with which I am familiar be well attuned for the hallowed
service of praise. “I myself will awake early.” I will awake the dawn with
my joyous notes. No sleepy verses and weary notes shall be heard from me;
I will thoroughly arouse myself for this high employ. When we are at our best
we fall short of the Lord's deserts, let us, therefore, make sure that what we
bring Him is our best, and, if marred with infirmity, at least let it not be deteriorated
by indolence. Three times the psalmist calls upon himself to awake. Do we
need so much arousing, and for such work? Then let us not spare it, for the
engagement is too honorable, too needful to be left undone or ill done for
want of arousing ourselves.
9 “I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people:” Gentiles shall hear
my praise. Here is an instance of the way in which the truly devout
evangelic spirit overleaps the boundaries which bigotry sets up. The
ordinary Jew would never wish the Gentile dogs to hear Jehovah's name,
except to tremble at it; but this grace taught psalmist has a missionary
spirit, and would spread the praise and fame of his God. “I will sing unto
thee among the nations.” However far off they may be, I would make
them hear of thee through my glad psalmody.
10 “For thy mercy is great unto the heavens,” - Right up from man's
lowliness to heaven's loftiness mercy reaches. Imagination fails to guess the
height of heaven, and even thus the riches of mercy exceed our highest
thoughts. The psalmist, as he sits at the cave's mouth and looks up to the
firmament, rejoices that God's goodness is more vast and more sublime
than even the vaulted skies - “and thy truth unto the clouds.” Upon the
cloud He sets the seal of His truth, the rainbow, which ratifies His covenant;
in the cloud He hides His rain and snow, (which we are getting tonight –
January 25, 2011 – CY) which prove His truth by bringing to us seedtime
and harvest, cold and heat (Genesis 8:22). Creation is great, but the Creator
greater far. Heaven cannot contain Him; above clouds and stars His
goodness far exceeds.
11 “Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens:” - A grand chorus.
Take it up, ye angels and ye spirits made perfect, and join in it, ye sons of
men below, as ye say, “let thy glory be above all the earth.” The prophet
in the previous verse spoke of mercy "unto the heavens," but here his song
flies "above the heavens; " praise rises higher, and knows no bound.
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