Summary: Psalm 56 - David is forced to flee to the Philistine city of Gath (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:


Deliver me from death (vs 1-4)

Deliver me from stumbling (vs 5-11)

Deliver me so I can praise you (vs 12-13)



• I guess we are all familiar with the phrase;

• ‘Out of the Frying-Pan Into the Fire’.

• If you are a fan of J.R.R Tolkien's The Hobbit.

• You may well recall that this saying is the title of the sixth chapter.

• But it’s origin goes way back to an Italian author Laurentius Abstemius;

• Who wrote a collection of 100 fables, called ‘The Hecatomythium’, during the 1490s.

• Shortly after him, an anonymous author, penned one of Aesop’s fables;

• Called "Worse and Worse" where we read that;

• The fish jump 'Out of the Frying-Pan, into the Fire'.

• And that expression has of course passed into everyday usage;

• With the general meaning of escaping a bad situation for a worse situation

• TRANSITION: Well for David the author of this psalm;

• That expression perfectly describes his situation!

• He is about to go ‘Out of the Frying-Pan Into the Fire’.

• If you know the story of King Saul and his pursuit of David;

• Then you will know that the ‘frying pan’ in the metaphor is King Saul.


• The writer H.G. Wells in his 1910 comic novel The History of Mr. Polly;

• Says of one of his strange characters, Mr Polly;

• “He was not so much a human being as a civil war”

• That is a perfect description of Saul.

• He became a living civil war, miserable, possessed of an evil spirit,

• Mentally breaking down, a suspicious angry and jealous man.

• Because Saul was unable to deal with his jealousy of David;

• His appreciation of David soon turned into hatred;

• And this hatred consumed him and would cause him to try and kill David.

• To carry on the metaphor ‘the fire’ would be the ‘city of Gath’.

• This was a Philistine city, the home of David’s arch enemies;

• It was also the place were a certain giant of a man called ‘Goliath’ grew up!

• Goliath probably had lots of relatives;

• Who wanted to get even with David for what he did to their relative;

• Also there is a city full of angry people;

• Who again want to take revenge on the foreigner who defeated & killed their champion!

Question: Why did David flee to the city of Gath?


• Desperate times call for desperate measures.

• David felt like he had no choice,

• He had to escape fast, even if this meant going to a dangerous place like Gath;

• David knew that Gath was a place where King Saul and his army;

• Would definitely not go near in their pursuit of him.

• So David left his soldiers behind and walked alone into a city that hated him!

• You would have to be crazy to do that;

• And that was David’s plan!

• This psalm reveals his life as you might expect was in great danger;

• And history tells us that he had to pretend to be insane in order to escape.

• David would lose his self-respect by pretending to be stark raving mad;

• He scratched on doors and drooling like a crazed animal!

• (You can read the full story in 1 Samuel chapter 21 verses 10 to chapter 22 verses 1)

Notice: The psalm has an inscription:

“For the director of music. To the tune of ‘A Dove on Distant Oaks’. Of David. A miktam. When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.”

• The expression: ‘A Dove on Distant Oaks’.

• Can be translated in different ways.

• e.g. ‘A Silent Dove Among Those Far Away’.

• e.g. ‘A Silent Dove Among Strangers’.

• Some bible scholars connect this inscription with verses 6-8:

• They see David as the innocent dove, silent under attack, while far from home.

• And that observation fits well.

• Now, as we scan the Psalm;

• We will note three requests that David makes to the Lord.

• And three answers to his prayers that David received.

(1). Deliver Me From Death (vs 1-4)

“Be merciful to me, my God,

for my enemies are in hot pursuit;

all day long they press their attack.

2 My adversaries pursue me all day long;

in their pride many are attacking me.

3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

4 In God, whose word I praise –

in God I trust and am not afraid.

What can mere mortals do to me?”

• In verses 1&5 David writes “All day long”;

• David felt like there was no let up from the harassment of the Philistines.

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