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Psalm 56

When I Am Afraid


For the choir director. “A Dove on Distant Oaks.”[a]
By David. A miktam.[b]
When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.[c]

The Enemies

Be merciful to me, O God, for a man pants as he pursues me.[d]
All day long an attacker presses against me.
Those who spy on me pant as they pursue me all day long.
Yes, many are attacking me boldly.[e]

David’s Trust

On the day when I am afraid, I will trust in you.
In God I praise his word.
In God I trust. I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?

The Enemies

All day long they hurt my cause.[f]
All their thoughts against me are evil.
They gather together. They hide.
They try to trip me by grabbing my heels
    while they wait to take my life.

David’s Trust

Because of their wickedness do not let them escape.[g]
In your anger bring down the peoples, O God.
You keep a record of my tossing and turning.[h]
Keep my tears in your bottle.
Aren’t they all listed in your book?
Then my enemies will turn back on the day when I call.
This is how I will know that God is for me.
10 In God I praise a word.[i]
In the Lord I praise a word.
11 In God I trust. I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

David’s Promise

12 My vows to you are binding, O God.
I will complete my thank offerings to you,
13 because you have delivered my life from death.
Have you not delivered my feet from stumbling
    so I can walk before God in the light of life?


  1. Psalm 56:1 This may be the name of the tune. The translation reads the Hebrew word alm as a word which means oaks or terebinths. The standard Hebrew text reads it as a word for silent. This would result in the translation silent dove, distant ones.
  2. Psalm 56:1 A miktam is a type of song. The meaning is uncertain. It may mean a golden psalm or a choice piece or a psalm inscribed on a tablet. Miktams include Psalms 57–60.
  3. Psalm 56:1 See 1 Samuel 21.
  4. Psalm 56:1 Or hotly pursues me. Or the verb may be a homonym that means tramples me.
  5. Psalm 56:2 Some take the word translated boldly as a name of God that means Exalted One. If this is correct, the word may belong with the next verse.
  6. Psalm 56:5 Or they twist my words
  7. Psalm 56:7 The Hebrew reads because of wickedness, deliverance to them. This does not make sense in the context. The translation assumes there was an accidental omission of a negative. Another way to handle the problem is to make the phrase a question: because of their wickedness, will they escape?
  8. Psalm 56:8 Or wandering
  9. Psalm 56:10 This cryptic expression is a literal translation.