March 2: Psalm 57


March 2: Psalm 57

A cry to God and thankful praise

Long meter double                                     Before the Throne of God Above
In Christ Alone
Duke Street
(Jesus Shall Reign), p. 80
(Lift Up Your Heads), p. 89

Thy mercy, God, to me extend; on thy protection I depend,

And to Thy wings for shelter haste until this storm be overpast.

To Him I will in trouble cry, the sovereign judge and God Most High,

Who wonders hath for me begun, and will not leave His work undone.

For He from heav’n shall send His power ‘gainst him who would my life devour;

Forth shall His truth and mercy send and all my faithfulness defend.

For I from cru-el men must hide, with hungry lions I must lie;

With men whose teeth are spears, their words are poisoned darts and two-edg’d swords.

Be Thou, O God, exalted high; and, as Thy glory fills the sky,

So be it o’er the earth displayed, and Thou, as there, be here obeyed!

To take me they their net prepared; my sinking soul almost despaired;

But they are fall’n, by Thy decree, into the pit they dug for me.

O God, my heart is fixed, ‘tis bent, its thankful tribute to present;

And with my heart my voice I’ll raise to Thee, my God, in songs of praise.

Awake my glory; harp and lute, no longer let your strings be mute;

And I, my tuneful part to take, will with the early dawn awake.

Thy praises, Lord, I will resound to all the listening nations round;

Thy mercy highest heav’n transcends, thy truth beyond the clouds extends

Be Thou, O God, exalted high; and, as Thy glory fills the sky,

So be it o’er the earth displayed, And Thou, as there, be here obeyed!

Psalm 57 is another of those instances of duplication in the Psalter, its last half being nearly identical with the opening lines of Psalm 108. The Psalm breaks neatly into two parts, each of which ends with the same refrain. The dominant motif in the first half is trust in God, while the second half is chiefly a praise of God. In the first part of the psalm, God is sought as refuge in the day of distress. In lines that deserve to be fixed in memory and often invoked, we pray for God’s mercy and put our confidence in His redemption which is “sent forth” from heaven. (Think of how both the Second and Third Persons of the Holy Trinity have been “sent forth” into the world for its full salvation in mercy and truth.) The second half of our psalm is more directly concerned with the praise of God. Like so many of the psalms, this one also calls on all nations to praise God. The praise of God is a catholic thing, not an individual enterprise. No matter how private the setting of our praying the psalms, the psalms themselves repeatedly speak of their native catholicity: “I will confess You among the peoples, O Lord, I will praise You among the nations.” God has sent His Son and His Spirit to catholicize the heart in His praise. (Reardon, p. 111-112)