Psalm 56: Are You Walking Before God in His Mercy & the Light of Life?

Psalm 56: Are You Walking Before God in His Mercy & the Light of Life?

Between increasing unrest and lawlessness, wars and rumors of wars, throw in terrorism and persecution, and we’ve got a very dark and evil world. We can ask — where is God’s Mercy? Where is His Light of Life? What’s more, how much longer do we have to live in this darkness?

In this psalm, we can feel David’s fear and pain, but we also realize that our answer, our light, is not in this world. Let’s dig in…

Psalm 56

For the choir director: A psalm (miktam) of David, regarding the time the Philistines seized him in Gath. To be sung to the tune “Dove on Distant Oaks (or Lands).”

O God, have mercy on me,
    for people are hounding me.
    My foes attack me all day long.
I am constantly hounded by those who slander me,
    and many are boldly attacking me.
But when I am afraid,
    I will put my trust in you.
I praise God for what he has promised.
    I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
    What can mere mortals do to me?

They are always twisting what I say;
    they spend their days plotting to harm me.
They come together to spy on me—
    watching my every step, eager to kill me.
Don’t let them get away with their wickedness;
    in your anger, O God, bring them down.

You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.

My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help.
    This I know: God is on my side!
10 I praise God for what he has promised;
    yes, I praise the Lord for what he has promised.
11 I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
    What can mere mortals do to me?

12 I will fulfill my vows to you, O God,
    and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help.
13 For you have rescued me from death;
    you have kept my feet from slipping.
So now I can walk in your presence, O God,
    in your life-giving light.

Psalm 56 NLT

The Back Story

Many of the psalms were not just poems but songs. Thus, some have instructions to sing them to known tunes of that day. It’s interesting that the name of the tune is “The Silent Dove of Distant Oaks (or Lands)”. Some Bible scholars surmise that he’s talking about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Pastor Sandy Adams explains…

He is indeed “The Silent Dove in Distant Lands”.

The Holy Spirit is a long way from home, and he works silently in the hearts of men — but his ministry is powerful and strategic.

The psalm is also labeled, “A miktam of David when the Philistines captured him in Gath.” (1 Samuel 18) David went to Gath, home of Goliath, naively thinking his enemies would grant him exile. Instead, they took him prisoner. He escaped only by pretending madness and insanity. (1 Samuel 20)

Pastor Sandy Adams

Having a Bad Day

Needless to say, David was having a bad day. Here he was, God’s anointed king of Israel and he was trying to hide from King Saul who wanted to kill him and he makes a bad decision and goes to his other enemy, the Philistines.

So, he prays, “O God, have mercy on me!”

We say that a lot — “Lord, have mercy!” Usually, it’s when things aren’t going as we planned. We may say it in jest, to make ourselves feel better, but why don’t we actually make it a heartfelt prayer?

Living in a scary world, it’s easy for us to lose heart and be afraid of what may or may not happen tomorrow. That’s why verses 3 and 4 are important…

But when I am afraid,
    I will put my trust in you.
I praise God for what he has promised.
    I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
    What can mere mortals do to me?

Psalm 56:3-4 NLT

In that day, God promised David that he’d be king. Clearly, he trusted that God would keep his promise. So, he reassures himself with, “What can mere mortals do to me?”

Paul reassured us…

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Romans 8:31-34 NLT

Getting Away with Wickedness

What’s more, looking around the world today, verses 5-7 can apply to us now. Evil people twist people’s words, our technology spies on us, eager to rip us off. We cry, “Don’t let them get away with their wickedness; in your anger, O God, bring them down.”

God Knows What You’re Going Through

You may not feel it all the time, but God does know what you’re going through. He keeps track of all your sorrows, your wanderings, and He’s collected all your tears in His bottle! He’s recorded each one in His book! God is on YOUR side!

God Keeps His Promises!

We can praise God for what He has promised and trust Him. Why should you be afraid? What can mere mortals do to you? We must thank Him every day for what He’s given us.

Walking in His Presence and Light of Life

He rescued us from death by sending His Son, Jesus, the Light of Life, to save us. He keeps our feet from slipping if we put our total and complete trust in Him. When we surrender our lives to Jesus, we walk in His presence, in His light. Furthermore, no matter how dark the world is, the darkness can never extinguish it.

John wrote…

The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness can never extinguish it.

John 1:4-5 NLT

Later, Jesus himself said…

“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

John 8:12 NLT

By now, if you’ve been following all the Praying the Psalms posts, you know that you can take the words of these psalms and rewrite them into your own words and pray them back to God. This exercise helps us get closer to God and strengthen our relationship with Him.


Jesus knocking at the door of your heart.
Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart.
Isn’t it about time you let Him in?

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

I Am A Child of God

Who You Say I Am

Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be The Glory!

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