Psalm 56

The Word Made Fresh

(For the worship leader: to the tune of “Dove on Distant Terebinths.” A song of David, when the Philistines captured him in Gath.)

1Help me, O God! People are walking all over me
and pursuing me all day long.
2My enemies are constantly stepping on me
and opposing me, O God Most High.
3But when I am afraid, I trust in you.
4I rely on God, whose word I praise.
I trust God, and I’m not afraid,
for what can mere humans do to me?
5They are constantly seeking to block my plans.
They want nothing but to bring evil against me.
6They sneak around, watching my every move, and stir up trouble,
hoping to do away with me.
7Punish them for their crimes,
and cast them aside in anger, O God.
8You know well my fears, for you have gathered up my tears.
Haven’t you kept a record of them?
9Cast my enemies aside, and they will run away when I challenge them,
for I am confident that God is with me.
10I praise the word of God!
I praise the word of the LORD!
11I trust God, and I am not afraid.
What can a mere mortal do to me?
12I know that I must keep my promises to you, O God,
and I will give offerings of thanksgiving to you.
13After all, you have saved my life.
You have kept my feet from slipping,
and I will live in God’s sight.


Superscription: these next 5 psalms are called “miktams,” as was Psalm 16. The meaning of the word is unknown, but all six “miktams” are ascribed to David. This psalm is presented “according to Dove on Far-off Terebinths,” the only psalm to receive such a designation. It is thought that this refers to a tune or a musical prelude. In any case it certainly presents a striking picture. The reference to David being seized by the Philistines in Gath is likely based on the story in 1 Samuel 21:10-15, when David feigned insanity. We might therefore expect it to be related to Psalm 34 which bears a similar superscription, but the two psalms have little in common.

1-7: I think most of us could use this psalm as a prayer some days, for we all feel oppressed at times by those who are working at cross purposes from us. The psalm is describing the kind of pressure that comes during the tension of interpersonal conflicts.

8-11: It is comforting to remember that God does indeed count our tears. We are reminded that God is in charge of the universe and that ultimately mere mortals can do nothing to harm us.

12-13: We are reminded that the life of the faithful man or woman is filled with daily praise and thanksgiving.


When the world closes in it is important to remember that we have a refuge. Our “hiding place” is our faith in the God who made us, who claims us, who wants to be involved in our lives and uphold and support us – but only at our invitation. We cannot expect God to barge in unwanted and uninvited.