This is one traditional place of David’s tomb. The other is on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, on the first floor of the same building where one traditional site of the Upper Room is on the second floor. In Jacob’s time, it was called Ephrath, which meant “fruitful.” Jacob buried his favorite wife Rachel there after she gave birth to Benjamin. After the conquest of the Promised Land, it was called Bethlehem-judah (Ruth 1: 1). Famine drove Elimelech and Naomi from Bethlehem to Moab, where their sons married Ruth and Orpah. When all three husbands died, Ruth returned to Bethlehem with Naomi and gleaned in the fields of Boaz. She and Boaz married, and their great-grandson was David. In his childhood, David cared for the sheep of his father Jesse in the fields of Bethlehem, possibly the same fields where his great-grandmother Ruth gleaned. A thousand years later, Jesus was born in Bethlehem and angels announced His birth to shepherds caring for their sheep in the fields near there. These fields have become known as The Shepherds’ Fields.
The Hebrew text for this psalm has no superscription or title. The Septuagint, the Vulgate, and others have it as “by David, a song sung by the sons of Jonadab, and the first that were taken captive.” Many commentators do take the position that it was probably written by David in his old age. The inclusion of the fact that it was sung by the sons of Jonadab and by the first of those taken captive is somewhat puzzling, but must have had some historical significance at the time the superscription was added. The sons of Jonadab (the Rechabites) are the subject of Jeremiah 35 for their faithfulness to their father’s command.
It is a song of lament, easily fitting for anyone who is weak and in distress. it is easy to see why the captives would sing this psalm, as it both cries out for help in a dire situation and when one feels helpless:
“forsake me not when my strength is spent…
O God, be not far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!…
I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.”
Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.