Theme: A Heightened Testimony
This week’s lessons teach us of the need to rest in the Lord during difficult trials, and to praise him for his faithful care.
Scripture: Psalm 57:1-11
I want to deal now with part two of this psalm, holding consideration of the chorus or refrain for last. Generally speaking, part two has the same themes as part one. But I want you to see how they are introduced and what happens to them the second time around. Seeing this will help you to understand something about Hebrew poetry.
First, look at the general subject matter of the three stanzas the New International Version rightly identifies as stanzas in part one. Verse 1 is the first. It is an appeal to God for mercy, coupled with a resolute determination to take refuge in him. Verses 2 and 3 are the second stanza. They are a testimony to God’s faithfulness to David. Verse 4 is the third stanza, the last of part one, apart from the chorus. It is a description of David’s enemies and of the danger he is in because of them.
Now look at part two. In part two these same general themes occur, only they occur in inverse order. The first stanza is verse 6. It deals with David’s enemies, which is what the third stanza did in part one. The second stanza is composed of verses 7 and 8. It also deals with faithfulness or steadfastness, only here the steadfastness is David’s. Because God is faithful, David will also be faithful and will sing praises to him. The third stanza, verses 9 and 10, is like the first in part one in that it is another cry to God. So the structure of the psalm is:
A, B, CchorusC, B, Achorus
But notice this. The second time around, each of the three themes is raised a notch or two higher, and the tone of the psalm becomes gloriously strong and confident, all because the psalmist is focusing on God—primarily he is hiding in God, after all—and not in his problems.
The stanzas that I have identified as “C” deal with David’s enemies, but the description of danger that is found in the first part gives way to the confidence that the pit they have dug for David will trap them. They will fall into it themselves.
The stanzas that I have identified as “B” deal with David’s relationship to God. But the earlier expression of confidence, which is already on a very high note, rises even higher as David moves from confidence in God to actual singing, so wonderful does God seem to him: “…my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music…Awake, harp and lyre I will awaken the dawn.”
The stanzas that I have identified as “A” are direct addresses to God. But the appeal for mercy in part one rises to pure praise in part two: “I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.”
This is not the first occurrence of the words “love” and “faithfulness” in this psalm. They are found first in verse 3, at the beginning, and now also here in verse 10, at the end. In between we have David’s believing declaration, “My heart is steadfast,” repeated twice for emphasis (a Hebrew poetic device). Because God is faithful, David will be faithful. This makes verse 7 the emotional focal point of the psalm.
Describe the structure of the psalm. Label the lines in the ABC, CBA pattern Dr. Boice mentioned.
How are the two parts of the psalm similar, and how are they different?
Application: What does this psalm teach you about God’s character? Praise him for how he demonstrates his attributes in your own life.
For Further Study: To learn more about God’s presence and what it is meant to achieve in us, download for free and listen to James Boice’s message from the book of Genesis, “The Proof of God’s Presence.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)