To the Choirmaster: With Stringed Instruments. A Maskil of David, When the Ziphites Went and Told Saul, “Is Not David Hiding Among Us?”
The Ziphites only crop up twice in the Bible, and it’s fair to say that they do themselves no favours. Twice they appear, and twice they betray David. I suppose you can at least praise them for being consistent!
Their first betrayal comes in 1 Samuel 23, which reads.
Then the Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is south of Jeshimon? Now come down, O king, according to all your heart’s desire to come down, and our part shall be to surrender him into the king’s hand.” And Saul said, “May you be blessed by the LORD, for you have had compassion on me. Go, make yet more sure. Know and see the place where his foot is, and who has seen him there, for it is told me that he is very cunning. See therefore and take note of all the lurking places where he hides, and come back to me with sure information. (1 Samuel 23:19-23)
David is a fugitive from King Saul, who is seeking his life. He is hiding in the wilderness of Maon, ten miles or so from the shores of the dead Sea. After his betrayal, David was tipped off and fled to the far side of the mountain from where Saul’s army were hunting. At the last moment, Saul received a message that the Philistines were attacking and so the army was sent off to defend the borders. In 1 Sameul 23:28 we read: “therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape”!
This Psalm was sung at a time of great danger, yet is speaks of a great trust in God. Even in times of great distress, God can be trusted to hear and help. He is the “upholder of my life”. When trouble strikes often your focus narrows on the issue at hand. Better to follow David’s example and lift your eyes to heaven.
O God, save me by your name,
and vindicate me by your might.
O God, hear my prayer;
give ear to the words of my mouth.
For strangers have risen against me;
ruthless men seek my life;
they do not set God before themselves.
Behold, God is my helper;
the Lord is the upholder of my life.
He will return the evil to my enemies;
in your faithfulness put an end to them.
With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.
For he has delivered me from every trouble,
and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies. (Psalm 54)