- A psalm of David, running for his life during a coup, trying to get away from his son Absalom1
A warrior’s morning prayer
- 1 LORD, look at all those enemies.
My goodness, there are a lot of them.
- 2 They talk about me and say,
“You’re hopeless. God won’t save you.”
- 3 But you, LORD, do protect me—as a shield surrounding me.
You, who are so awesome, give me the courage to hold my head up high.
- 4 So, I’ll pray to the LORD.
And he’ll answer me from his holy mountain.
- 5 I was able to get a good sleep.
I woke refreshed because the LORD gives me strength.
- 6 I won’t be afraid when enemies swarm me
And surround me, in numbers too high to count.
- 7 Get up, LORD.
Save me, God.
When you slug my wicked enemies
Across the side of their faces, Busted teeth go flying.
- 8 You’re the one who saves us, LORD.
You’re the one who shows that you favor3 your people.
The subtitle wasn’t part of the original psalm. And “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. Almost half of the psalms are attributed to David in this way, 73 of 150. Ancient Jewish history tells of David playing a lyre and writing songs. For one, he wrote a song of mourning at the battlefield death of King Saul and his sons: “How have the mighty fallen!” (2 Samuel 1:19-27 New American Standard Bible). An ancient Jewish scroll from about the time of Jesus, discovered among the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, reports that David wrote 3,600 songs.
The word in the original language of Hebrew is selah. Bible scholars haven’t figured out what it means yet, so all we can do is guess. It could mean “pause for effect,” “instrumental interlude,” or “choir singing ‘Amen.’” We’re offering a guess instead of selah. Though selah might be the better way to go because it’s always correct, it’s also always incomprehensible. “Instruments only” has a good chance of being wrong, but at least we convey the idea that the Hebrew word behind it probably has something to do with enhancing the song.
More literally, “your blessing” is on your people.