Psalms 56-62
(In God We Trust)
June 14th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Trust in him at all times, O people;
    pour out your heart before him;
    God is a refuge for us.

- Psalm 62:8 (NRSV)

Summary of Chapters

This group of Psalms dwells on the themes of protection from enemies and the related topics of justice, refuge, and trust in God. King David is presumed to be the author of all the Psalms in this group.

Psalms 56 and 57 appear to be connected as a call for protection from vicious enemies, and may have been written when David was taking refuge in Gath because he was being hunted by the jealous King Saul (1 Samuel 21:10-14). Both Psalms begin with a request for mercy. In Psalm 56, the author describes a verbal attack by slanderers who twist his words and lurk nearby conspiring to take his life. The psalmist expresses his confidence in God’s protective power and notes the limitations of his antagonists in a refrain that is used twice in this Psalm:

    in God I trust and am not afraid.
        What can mere mortals do to me?

    - Psalm 56:4 and 56:11 (NIV)

In the 56th Psalm, the author notes his confidence in God in a poetic and touching expression of faith:

    My wanderings you have noted;
    are my tears not stored in your flask,
    recorded in your book?

    My foes turn back when I call on you.
    This I know: God is on my side.

    - Psalm 56:9-10 (NAB)

In Psalm 57 David describes an immediate physical danger using the metaphor of lions and fire "My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword (Ps 57:4 - KJV)." The 56th and 57th Psalms both end in a description of victory and praises for God's mercy and glory.

The 58th Psalm is a call for justice from God because the rulers on earth have been unjust, rendering their victims powerless with their “venom” and turning a deaf ear to law and conscience: “like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be (58:5 - NIV).” The psalmist then graphically describes the unmerciful punishment he desires for these venomous corrupt leaders:

    O God, break the teeth in their mouths;
       tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!

    Let them vanish like water that runs away;
       like grass let them be trodden down and wither.

    Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime;
       like the untimely birth that never sees the sun.

    - Psalm 58:6-8 (NRSV)

The psalmist then attests that the glory of God will be revealed in victory. “The men will say, ‘Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.’ (Ps 58:11 - NIV).”

Psalms 59 and 60 continue the theme of calls for deliverance from enemies at hand. The persistence and sneakiness of these enemies are described in a verse that is repeated in 59:6 and 59:14: “They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city (NIV).” In this case, the author is referring to wild packs of untamed dogs, not a bunch of cuddly and amiable Golden Retrievers. One translation refers to them as coyotes in order to provide a more applicable imagery for the modern-day readers. The author is frustrated that these dog-like enemies are allowed to roam without retribution while he and other innocent people suffer, so he calls out to God in frustration:

    Wake up and see for yourself! You're GOD,
       GOD-of-Angel-Armies, Israel's God!
    Get on the job and take care of these pagans,
       don't be soft on these hard cases.

    They return when the sun goes down,
       They howl like coyotes, ringing the city.
       Then suddenly they're all at the gate,
       Snarling invective, drawn daggers in their teeth.
       They think they'll never get caught.

    But you, GOD, break out laughing;
       you treat the godless nations like jokes.
    Strong God, I'm watching you do it,
       I can always count on you.
    God in dependable love shows up on time,
       shows me my enemies in ruin.

    -Psalm 59:4-10 (MSG)

The 60th Psalm alleges that God has rejected the nation of Israel, making them vulnerable to other nations. The psalmist asks for God to deliver them with victory as he did when he granted them the Promised Land. The psalm ends with a confident forecast: “With God we will gain victory and we will trample down our enemies (60:12 - NIV).”

The 61st Psalm asks for refuge and the 62nd testifies to the author’s trust in God’s protection: “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him (Ps 61:1- NIV).” In the 62nd Psalm, he reminds his own soul and his people to seek rest and refuge in God, who is “my rock and salvation (62:7 - NIV).”

Reflection and Application

The words on the back of the US currency, “In God We Trust” may have derived from the repeating verse in Psalm 56. We also saw a similar phrase in a verse from the last Psalm we studied today: 62:8.

The phrase was officially approved for display on US coins and currency in 1956, and had been used off and on before that. The use of the phrase has raised objections from Atheists who say it is a constitutional violation, and some Chrstians object to the idea of putting a holy name on money. But apparently, over 90% of Americans approve – so it’s likely to remain for quite some time (1).

When we see this verse on the currency or in the Bible we can remind ourselves of the following verse, “what can man do to me?” Our opponents may slander us, and our enemies may take our lives, but God limits their power. No one can take away our souls and our relationship with God. If we truly trust in him, he will respond to our request to Save Our Souls. When we see that motto on our money, we can also remind ourselves our ultimate source of our refuge is God in our hearts, not the money in our hands. He is the rock and the foundation.

If we find ourselves in a place or era of oppression we can turn to Psalm 60 and complain to God for allowing man and beast to terrorize the innocent. Then we can open Psalm 61 and take solace in the claim that the life of the wicked is “but a breath” and that the LORD is strong and loving and “will reward each person according to what they have done (Ps 60:12 - NIV).”

If we look in the mirror and discover that we are the venomous cobras or the prowling dogs, then it’s not too late to respond to our conscience – the voice of God, telling us that we are wrong. The proper response begins with confession and sacrifice of that which we have valued. God patiently waits for us.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. In what circumstances have you unexpectedly found unclaimed money on the sidewalk or grass or other places?
    2. In what circumstances have you unexpectedly found God in your life?
    3. How do we keep our trust focused on God?

    Recommended Prayer
    God, we know you are the God of angel armies and bring justice in your own time. Help us trust in you.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Those who manage the money of nations


    (1) Wikipedia, "In God we trust," 6/13/12

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: 63-68 (My Soul Thirsts for You)

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