The Treasury of David is one of several C.H. Spurgeon books that are in the public domain. If you propose to study the Psalms, I suggest you download this as a companion for your other references.
TITLE.To the Chief Musician. That mighty minstrel by degrees acquired a noble repertoire of hallowed songs and set them all to music. Upon Jonathelemrechokim—this was probably the title of the tune, as we should say Old Hundred or Sicilian Mariners. Perhaps the title may however belong to the Psalm, and if so it is instructive, for it has been translated as “the silent dove in distant places.” We have here the songs of God’s servant, who rejoices once more to return from banishment and to leave those dangerous places where he was compelled to hold his peace even from good. There is such deep spiritual knowledge in this Psalm that we might say of it, “Blessed art thou David Barjonas, for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee.” When David plays Jonah he is not like the prophet of that name; in David, the love of the dove predominates, but in Jonah, its moaning and complaining are most notable. Michtam of David. This is the second golden Psalm, we had the first in Psalm 16, to which this Psalm has a great likeness, especially in its close, for it ends in the joyful presence. A golden mystery, the gracious secret of the life of faith is in both these Psalms most sweetly unveiled, and a pillar is set up because of God’s truth. When the Philistines took him to Gath. He was like a dove in strangers’ hands, and on his escape, he records his gratitude.
DIVISION. In Ps 56:1-2, he pours out his complaint; in Ps 56:3-4 he declares his confidence in God; in Ps 56:5-6 he returns to his complaining, but pleads in earnest hope in Ps 56:7-9, and sings a grateful song from Ps 56:10 to the close.
Verse 3. What time I am afraid. David was no braggart, he does not claim never to be afraid, and he was no brutish Stoic free from fear because of the lack of tenderness. David’s intelligence deprived him of the stupid heedlessness of ignorance, he saw the imminence of his peril and was afraid. We are men, and therefore liable to overthrow; we are feeble, and therefore unable to prevent it; we are sinful men, and therefore deserving it, and for all these reasons we are afraid. But the condition of the psalmist’s mind was complex—he feared, but that fear did not fill the whole area of his mind, for he adds, I will trust in thee. It is possible, then, for fear and faith to occupy the mind at the same moment. We are strange beings, and our experience in the divine life is stranger still. We are often in a twilight, where light and darkness are both present, and it is hard to tell which predominates. It is a blessed fear which drives us to trust. Unregenerate fear drives from God, gracious fear drives to him. If I fear man I have only to trust God, and I have the best antidote. To trust when there is no cause for fear, is but the name of faith, but to be reliant upon God when occasions for alarm are abundant and pressing, is the conquering faith of God’s elect. Though the verse is in the form of resolve, it became a fact in David’s life, let us make it so in ours. Whether the fear arises from without or within, from past, present, or future, from temporals, or spirituals, from men or devils, let us maintain faith, and we shall soon recover courage.
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