- An enlightening psalm1 of David. A prayer written when he was hiding in a cave.2
Please don’t let them kill me
- 1 I’m praying out loud to the LORD.
I’m pleading for mercy.
- 2 I’m complaining to him,
Laying out my troubles
And asking him to help me.
- 3 I have a sinking feeling inside.
So I’m telling him, “You know where I’m headed.
My enemies have set traps along the path.
- 4 Look around and see for yourself.
I don’t have a friend in sight.
There’s no one who cares about me.
And there’s no escape route.
- 5 That’s why I’m praying to you, LORD.
You are my protection.
You’re the only reason
I’m still in the land of the living.
- 6 Please listen to me.
I’m down and out—in big trouble.
Rescue me from these people chasing me.
They’re too strong for me.
- 7 I’m trapped in this prison.
Spring me out of here
So I can thank you for who you are.
Good people will praise you for it
And for the kindness you’ve shown me.
The subtitle wasn’t part of the original psalm. “An enlightening psalm” is a guess. The original Hebrew word is maskil (mass-KEEL). Scholars say they aren’t sure what it means. They say they don’t even know if the word refers to the lyrics or the music. Maskil sounds a bit like another Hebrew word, askilkha, which means “let me enlighten you.” Some scholars associate maskil with a root word, sakal, which generates a lot of words with various meanings such as: thoughtful, instructive, wise, and proper. One theory is that the word relates to both lyrics and music. It could, for example, describe the lyrics as “thoughtful” and the music as a harmony fit for that theme. And the possible byline “of David,” isn’t necessarily a byline. The vague phrase could mean the song was written by David, about David, or was inspired by David.
The title seems to suggest that David prayed this prayer while he and his men were hiding from King Saul and his men in the caves of Ein Gedi, south of Jerusalem and on the west shores of the Dead Sea. The story appears in 1 Samuel 24. The title of Psalm 57also refers to it.