Psalm 56, written by David, is a call for God’s protection. Read this Psalm and learn more about the meaning behind the Hebrew words from the CSB Study Bible.

Be gracious to me, God, for a man is trampling me;
he fights and oppresses me all day long.
My adversaries trample me all day,
for many arrogantly fight against me.
— PSALM 56:1-2

Trampling (Hb sh’p) appears twice in these verses. There are two meanings for this Hebrew word: (1) “pant” or “long for” (Is 42:14; Jr 2:24) and (2) “crush” or “trample” (Ps 57:3; Am 8:4). Since the first of these is more common, some translations take that as the meaning here. However, the parallel terms fights and oppresses argue for the second meaning.

When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
— PSALM 56:3-4

Mere mortals is literally “flesh” (Hb basar), which represents man’s weakness and mortality (Is 2:22; 31:3; 40:6). This word is often used to contrast man’s weakness with God’s power (2Ch 32:8). Similar words are repeated in Ps 56:10-11.

They twist my words all day long;
all their thoughts against me are evil.
— PSALM 56:5

Twist (Hb ‘atsav) expresses the idea of “shape” or “fashion” (Jb 10:8). It portrays these enemies as shaping the psalmist’s words into whatever they wanted for their own evil purposes.

They stir up strife, they lurk;
they watch my steps
while they wait to take my life.
— PSALM 56:6

Lurk describes the psalmist’s enemies as predatory animals waiting to attack their prey (10:9; 17:12).

Will they escape in spite of such sin?
God, bring down the nations in wrath.
— PSALM 56:7

The answer to the question is understood to be no, they will not escape. Bring down the nations probably means more than simply defeat them, but rather bring them under divine judgment.

You yourself have recorded my wanderings.
Put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
Then my enemies will retreat on the day when I call.
This I know: God is for me.
— PSALM 56:8-9

Tears probably refers to prayers or, more specifically, laments that involve crying. The bottle refers to God’s storing of these prayers so he can act on them later. This is similar to the image of incense in Revelation to represent the prayers of the saints (Rv 5:8; 8:3-4). The records are similar to the “books of remembrance” referred to in Dn 7:10 and Mal 3:16. The knowledge that God is for me should bring remarkable peace (see Rm 8:31).

In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mere humans do to me?
— PSALM 56:10-11

What can mere humans do to me? again reminds us of Rm 8:31.

I am obligated by vows to you, God;
I will make my thank offerings to you.
— PSALM 56:12

Vows were commonly made during petitions and fulfilled through thank offerings (see note at 22:25-26).

For you rescued me from death,
even my feet from stumbling,
to walk before God in the light of life.
— PSALM 56:13

Light is used as a synonym for life (Jb 3:20) but also may represent joy (Is 9:2) and salvation (Is 58:8). See notes at Ps 27:1; 36:9.

WORD STUDY: BATACH

  • Hebrew Pronunciation: [bah tak]
  • CSB Translation: trust, be confident
  • Use in Psalms: 46
  • Use in Old Testament: 118
  • Focus Passage: Psalm 56:3-4, 11

Batach denotes trust (Jdg 9:26).

  • People are confident (Jdg 20:36) or bold (Pr 28:1). They are (Is 47:10) or feel (Am 6:1) secure.
  • They rely (Ps 21:7), depend (Jb 39:11), and trust (Ps 40:3).
  • Participles imply unsuspecting (Jdg 18:7), overconfident (Is 32:9), or protected (Pr 11:15).
  • Betach (42x) means security (Jr 49:31), confidence (Is 32:17), and safety (Ps 78:53).
  • It appears as securely (Lv 25:18) and unsuspecting (Gn 34:25). Mibtach (15x) means trust (Ps 40:4) or object of trust (Ezk 29:16).
  • It denotes hope (Ps 65:5), security (Jb 18:14), and confidence (Jr 17:7).
  • It appears as safe (Is 32:18). Bitchah is confidence (Is 30:15); battuchot, security (Jb 12:6); and bittachon, hope (Ec 9:4).
  • The latter with batach means what you are relying on or basing confidence on (2Kg 18:19; Is 36:4). Verses say people should trust in God rather than idols, men, or self.

LEARN MORE

These notes came directly from the CSB Study Bible notes, and you can add them to your Olive Tree library today. Also, if you already own the CSB translation, you qualify for an additional discount. Head on over to our website to learn more.

12 Comments

  1. Karen P Lawson Reply

    I enjoy the study notes. it is helpful in fully understanding the meaning of a verse or verses.kpl

  2. Elizabeth Williams Toombs Reply

    Needed this confirmation of my well-placed faith in my Redeemed today. I am trying to maintain my marriage, tho it is abusive, both verbally and emotionally, and has been physically abusive as well. I keep my prayers constant for his salvation and my strength. I KNOW He is watching over me!

      • Nicholas D. Stoney Reply

        I the same but myself a man,suffered violence,verbal abuse calling me a homosexual ,no way have I ever been inclined that way physical abuse,hair pulling,scratching, nose bleeds after abuse,I never raised my hand to her she his behind the fact a man won’t hit a women.I finally warned her anymore and I’m gone.One day I walked out on her,thank goodness the relief!!!6 months later she with another man,lied I saw him he had a 2 inch indentation on his forehead I asked how did you get that?she stepped in and lied he hit his head on the steering wheel we had an accident, later he told me or asked how long were you with her? I said 7 years he said you deserve a medal,me 7 months look what she did to my head,she hit me with a full bottle of Swan lager a West Australian beer bottle!!!!

        • Samson Burgei Reply

          Sorry man, that sounds like a case of demonic oppression, or historical issues beneath the violent behaviour. Have you sought counseling?
          .

    • Samson Burgei Reply

      Keep looking up Elizabeth, surely He has stored your petitions in a bottle. He will heal and save your marriage.

    • Jennifer curlin Reply

      I pray the Lord will watch over you and change the circumstances.. Lord I pray for this person and the marriage that is abusive.. Touch her husband and save him so he and his wife can be at peace with each other in Jesus’name I pray.. Amen..

  3. Tunde Oladeji Reply

    I appreciate what God is using this ministry to do in the life of the devoted Chtistians who are keen to studying the Bible

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