The Berean Expositor
Volume 34 - Page 213 of 261
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The removal of Fear (Psalm 56: 3).
pp. 19, 20
It is a far cry from the story of the men of valour of I Chron. 5: 20, which formed the
basis of the last article of this series, to the one we are now to consider, where the historic
reference over Psalm 56:, "Michtam of David, when the Philistines took him in Gath",
sends us back to I Sam. 21: 13, to find David feigning madness, scrabbling on the doors
of the gate, and letting his spittle fall down his beard.
David was "sore afraid of Achish, the king of Gath" (I Sam. 21: 12), and Psalm 56:
gives something of the hidden history of that period of David's perilous life. The critics
have not been backward in declaring that the title of the Psalm has nothing in it
corresponding with history, but in this, as in many other judgments pronounced by them,
their reading has been superficial.
De Wette alleges that in the record of I Samuel, it is not stated that the Philistines
laid hold of David, but Hengstenberg draws attention to the words "in their hands" of
I Sam. 21: 13, and others have observed the "escape" of I Sam. 22: 1.  When we
remember that David, in fleeing from Saul, had put himself into the hands of Goliath's
people, we may well understand his sense of peril, even though the historic account of
I Sam. 21: makes little or nothing of it. It is the Psalm written of that period that draws
the veil aside, and where the words "sore afraid" (I Sam. 21: 12) find an exposition:
"What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee" (Psa. 56: 3).
This trust in God is also a trust in His Word. God had made promises to David, and,
although they were separated from fulfillment by years of wandering and persecution,
David knew that God would honour His word. So, in verse 3, we read of David's trust in
the Lord when he was afraid, but in verse 4, as he trusts in His word, his fear departs:
"In God I will praise His word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh
can do unto me" (Psa. 56: 4).
The structure of the Psalm shows how these items are repeated:
Prayer offered.
A1 |
1, 2. The antagonism of the enemy: "Swallowed me up."
| 3, 4. Trust and praise: In God and His word.
Deliverance Expected.
A2 |
5, 6. The antagonism of the enemy: "My words", "my steps", "my soul".
| 7-11. Trust and praise: In God and His word.
Prayer answered.
A3 |
12, 13. Deliverance from death and falling.
| 13. Walk before God in the light of the living.