May 22 2023
Today, Monday May 22
“In the Shadow of Your Wings…”
To the Chief Musician. Set to ‘Do Not Destroy.’ A Michtam of David when he fled from Saul into the cave.
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by. I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me. He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah God shall send forth His mercy and His truth. My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men Who are set on fire, Whose teeth are spears and arrows, And their tongue a sharp sword.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth.
Psalm 57 is a Psalm that historically follows the preceding Psalm. Remember Psalm 56 was written by David after he had been captured by the Philistines in Gath. When David heard the Philistines repeating the song that the Israelites began singing after his victories in battle over the Philistines, “Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 21:11), David knew they were making plans to kill him. He made plans to escape by acting like an insane madman and King Achish let him go free and he fled for protection to the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1).
David later would move to a cave in Engedi (1 Samuel 24), where he probably writes Psalm 142. But here at the cave of Adullam, still fleeing for his life from King Saul, he writes Psalm 57. He knew that it was better to be in the will of God in a cave than out of His will in a king’s palace or trying to find protection in the camp of the enemy. You do crazy things when you sit down at the enemy’s fire seeking to be one of them for protection. Remember when Peter stood at the fire to warm himself with those who were plotting to kill Jesus and then next you know he is cursing and denying that he even knows Jesus (John 18:18-25: Matthew 26:69-74).
The title of Psalm 57 also informs us that this Psalm was to be set to the melody "Do Not Destroy". This same melody was also assigned to Psalms 58, 59, and 75. 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."
Psalm 57 is also one of the Michtam Psalms 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, and 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 above.
This Psalm covers one day in David's life as a fugitive, for verse 4 records his lying down and verse 8 his waking up to greet the dawn. God quieted his heart and gave him the sleep he needed (see 4:8 and 5:3). Note the repetition of mercy and refuge (v. 1), sends (v. 3), steadfast (v. 7) and awake (v. 8), and refrain in verses 5 and 11. From his difficult experience in Gath and here in the cave, David shares with us some responsibilities and privileges that believers have every day.
David made each day a day of prayer and so should we (vv. 1-5). As in Psalm 56:1, he began with a cry for mercy, for David depended on the grace of God to see him through his trials. His worship and prayer turned the cave into a Holy of Holies where he could hide under the wings of the cherubim on the mercy seat of the ark. Read Exodus 25:17-20 and note the verb "overshadowing". This image is found frequently in Scripture and must not be confused with the wings of the bird as in Psalm 91:4. In Psalm 55:6, David wanted the wings of a dove to fly away when what he needed was the wings of the cherubim in "the secret place of the Most High" where he could safely hide (Hebrews 10:19-25). David had taken refuge in the Lord many times in the past, and he knew the Lord was faithful. The word "calamities" means "a destructive storm that could engulf me."
David included a song of praise in his evening prayer (v. 5) and lay down and went to sleep. David didn't pray only at bedtime, as too many people do, but all day long; however, he closed the day with a special time of worship and commitment. May the Lord help us to do the same as we take refuge “in the shadow of His wings” at the mercy seat!