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: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.