Of the 150 Psalms in the Bible, five are identified as “a Michtam,” which means golden or profound.1 Easton’s Bible Dictionary says,
The root of the word means to stamp or grave, and hence it is regarded as denoting a composition so precious as to be worthy to be engraved on a durable tablet for preservation…
The message of the Bible is profound by it’s very nature, so when it tells us a text is golden, we really ought to take note. One of those golden psalms is Psalm 56. We want to note some things from it today.
The psalm is related to events recorded in 1 Samuel 21. We’re not told why, but while on the run from Saul, David went to Achish, king of Gath (1 Samuel 21:10). Maybe he thought he’d be safer in enemy territory than among his own people, not knowing who might turn him over to Saul. But any perceived safety in Gath disappeared when the king’s servants recognized him and called to mind the song of the maidens in Israel, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 21:11; cf. 18:7). 1 Samuel 21:12 says David was afraid of Achish after his identity was made known. revealed.
Coming to Psalm 56, though he was afraid, he put his trust in the LORD (v 3-4). What did the enemy do that he should fear?
All day they twist my words; all their thoughts are against me for evil. They gather together, they hide, they mark my steps, when they lie in wait for my life. (v 5-6)
There’s no indication that physical harm came to David at all in Gath; neither the Psalm nor the historical record in 1 Samuel speak of the enemy hurting the Psalmist, but the threat was real; his life was in danger.
In the midst of his discussion about the enemy and God’s protection, we read:
You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book? (v 8)
How comforting to know that God is watching over us, and He is aware of every move we make. He knows our wandering. In David’s case, the Lord knew every hiding place and retreat the future king of Israel had to make. It would be easy to feel alone and forsaken, but David reveals he was confident in God’s concern for him. We too can find comfort in the fact that our Father numbers our wanderings.
In Luke 12:7 we are told that God knows how many hairs are on our head. He knows us better than we know ourselves. In our text, David says God is also aware of every knows and stores up every tear His people shed. It is not literal, but an image of course, but what a great image! God has a record of our tears. Not a single tear falls from our eyes, but God takes note and is there for us in the trials and griefs we endure.