According to the superscription of this psalm, it was one written by David when he fled from Saul “in the cave” – possibly on the occasion of either 1 Samuel 22:1 or 1 Samuel 24:1-3, more likely the former. It is hard to imagine the despair that David felt as he had to hide himself in fear for his very life, appealing to God “My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts…”
Verse one is another of the several verses found in the psalms (17:8, 36:7, and 63:7, for example) and elsewhere that refer to a place of safety as being “in the shadow of your wings.” In verses 1-6, David makes his “cry out to God most high” in prayer for His help. But even in so doing, he expresses his faith in the Lord saying “I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.” When we have done all that we can do, we must learn to trust in Him.
Then in verses 7-11, he finishes his prayer renewed with strength, and praises God for his comfort and steadfast love. The refrain of the song, found in verse 5 is returned to in verse 11:
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
It is a song that is a model for prayer most appropriate at times of despair, fear, or oppression – any time that we need to “cry out to God most high” as we often do, remembering as we make our plea, that He hears us and that He deserves our praise for all that He is and does.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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