Chapter 56

1For the leader; on yonath elem rechokim. Of David. A michtam; when the Philistines seized him in Gath.

lam-na-TZAY-akh al yo-NAT AY-lem r'-kho-KEEM l'-da-VID mikh-TAM be-e-KHOZ o-TO f'-lish-TEEM b'-GAT

אלַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל־יוֹנַת אֵלֶם רְחֹקִים לְדָוִד מִכְתָּם בֶּאֱחֹז אֹתוֹ פְלִשְׁתִּים בְּגַת׃

56:1   When the Philistines seized him in Gath

Constantly on the run in a very small Israelite kingdom, David does the irrational; he escapes to the Philistine city of Gath (I Samuel 21:11-16). The Philistines were the main enemy of the Israelites at the time, and David himself had slain Goliath, who was from the same city. How does David survive when the advisors of King Achish reveal that this is the same David who was responsible for the defeat of the Philistines? David feigns insanity. He dances uncontrollably, foams at the mouth and sputters unintelligible words. His behavior leads the king of Gath to make his famous statement “Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to rave for me? Should this fellow enter my house?” (I Samuel 21:16). He lets David free, and David responds to this near-death experience in the best way he knows: With a psalm of gratitude to Hashem.

2Have mercy on me, O Hashem, for men persecute me; all day long my adversary oppresses me.

בחָנֵּנִי אֱלֹהִים כִּי־שְׁאָפַנִי אֱנוֹשׁ כָּל־הַיּוֹם לֹחֵם יִלְחָצֵנִי׃

3My watchful foes persecute me all day long; many are my adversaries, O Exalted One.

גשָׁאֲפוּ שׁוֹרְרַי כָּל־הַיּוֹם כִּי־רַבִּים לֹחֲמִים לִי מָרוֹם׃

4When I am afraid, I trust in You,

דיוֹם אִירָא אֲנִי אֵלֶיךָ אֶבְטָח׃

5in Hashem, whose word I praise, in Hashem I trust; I am not afraid; what can mortals do to me?

הבֵּאלֹהִים אֲהַלֵּל דְּבָרוֹ בֵּאלֹהִים בָּטַחְתִּי לֹא אִירָא מַה־יַּעֲשֶׂה בָשָׂר לִי׃

6All day long they cause me grief in my affairs, they plan only evil against me.

וכָּל־הַיּוֹם דְּבָרַי יְעַצֵּבוּ עָלַי כָּל־מַחְשְׁבֹתָם לָרָע׃

7They plot, they lie in ambush; they watch my every move, hoping for my death.

זיָגוּרוּ יצפינו [יִצְפּוֹנוּ] הֵמָּה עֲקֵבַי יִשְׁמֹרוּ כַּאֲשֶׁר קִוּוּ נַפְשִׁי׃

8Cast them out for their evil; subdue peoples in Your anger, O Hashem.

חעַל־אָוֶן פַּלֶּט־לָמוֹ בְּאַף עַמִּים הוֹרֵד אֱלֹהִים׃

9You keep count of my wanderings; put my tears into Your flask, into Your record.

טנֹדִי סָפַרְתָּה אָתָּה שִׂימָה דִמְעָתִי בְנֹאדֶךָ הֲלֹא בְּסִפְרָתֶךָ׃

10Then my enemies will retreat when I call on You; this I know, that Hashem is for me.

יאָז יָשׁוּבוּ אוֹיְבַי אָחוֹר בְּיוֹם אֶקְרָא זֶה־יָדַעְתִּי כִּי־אֱלֹהִים לִי׃

11In Hashem, whose word I praise, in Hashem, whose word I praise,

יאבֵּאלֹהִים אֲהַלֵּל דָּבָר בַּיהֹוָה אֲהַלֵּל דָּבָר׃

12in Hashem I trust; I am not afraid; what can man do to me?

יבבֵּאלֹהִים בָּטַחְתִּי לֹא אִירָא מַה־יַּעֲשֶׂה אָדָם לִי׃

13I must pay my vows to You, O Hashem; I will render thank offerings to You.

יגעָלַי אֱלֹהִים נְדָרֶיךָ אֲשַׁלֵּם תּוֹדֹת לָךְ׃

14For You have saved me from death, my foot from stumbling, that I may walk before Hashem in the light of life.

ידכִּי הִצַּלְתָּ נַפְשִׁי מִמָּוֶת הֲלֹא רַגְלַי מִדֶּחִי לְהִתְהַלֵּךְ לִפְנֵי אֱלֹהִים בְּאוֹר הַחַיִּים׃