Week 18: Psalms 54-56


Reading: Psalms 54-56

           Click on the link for the reading to read the Psalms for this week.  As we read, let us not do so in haste.  Take time to read each Psalm at least three times:  once to understand the content, once as a poem or song to feel the meaning, and once as a prayer to appropriate the Psalm into your life.   There will often be a hymn attached at the bottom of the page that helps bring meaning to one of the Psalms for the week.


PSALM 54: Surely, God is My Helper

            Psalm 5 is a bri3f individual prayer for help.  The psalmist is not being vindictive: he does not personally seek revenge but appeals to God’s character and will to give life and to enact justice among human beings.  In essence, the psalmist demonstrates the same faith and prays the same way Jesus taught his disciples: “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven . . . deliver us from the evil one.” 


PSALM 55: Betrayal by Friends

            The psalmist describes the hostility that afflicts him in terms of general urban lawlessness (vv 9-11) and betrayal by a covenant partner of his intimate circle (vv 12-14, 20-21).  The violence and strife of his city and the scorn of his closest friends are experienced as the very terrors of death (vv 4-5).  Jeremiah once spoke of a wish to flee to the wilderness to escape a collapsing society in which even neighbors were dangerous (Jer. 9:2-9).  There is a similar lament over social chaos in Micah 7:1-6.  Perhaps these are hints of the circumstances for which the prayer was composed.  Life is so inextricably connected with friends and society for support and confidence that the betrayal of the one and the unreliability of the other are threatening to life.  “Cast your burden on the LORD” in such times the psalmist urges in verse 22.  


PSALM 56: In God I Trust

            The superscription to Psalm 56 connects it to David’s presence in Gath (1 Sam. 21:10-14), however some older texts offer the setting as being “for the people far removed from the sanctuary.”  The psalm would have been an appropriate communal prayer in the exilic era.

            The psalmist’s affirmation of a trust that moves the self from “afraid” to “not afraid” suggests that the opposite of faith is not so much doubt as it is fear.  Jesus seemed to reinforce this conclusion when he said to Jairus in a moment of great distress, “Do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5:36).  Such a response is possible, according to Psalm 56 because we both are known by God (v. 8) and know that God is for us.  Again, Jesus also encouraged his followers not to fear for the same reason: God knows, and God cares (Luke 12:4-7).




This is the Psalm in hymn form.  Read or sing it through with melody to give the Psalm another dimension. 









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