This psalm consists of two parts. In the first, David gives expression to the anxiety which he felt, imploring Divine assistance against Saul and his other enemies. In the second, he proceeds upon the confident expectation of deliverance, and stirs up his soul to the exercise of praise.

To the chief musician, Al-tascheth,1 Michtam of David,
when he fled from the face of Saul in the cave.

We are left entirely to conjecture as to the meaning of the word Michtam; and equal uncertainty prevails among interpreters regarding the reason of the inscription given to the psalm, Al-tascheth, i.e., destroy not. Some are of opinion that this formed the commencement of a song well known at the time; others take it to be an expression uttered by David in the desperate exigency to which he was reduced, O God! destroy me not. Others conceive that the word is inscribed upon the psalm in praise of the high principle shown by David when he prevented Abishai from slaying Saul, and are confirmed in their opinion by the fact, that this is the very expression which the inspired historian represents him as having used, (1 Samuel 26:9.) But as the prayers which follow must have been offered up before he gave any such injunction to Abishai, this explanation is not satisfactory; and we are left to adopt one or other of the two former suppositions, either that the psalm was composed to the air of some song generally known at the time, or that the word expresses a brief prayer, which David notes down as having been uttered in memorable circumstances, and in circumstances of great danger.

1 The words, txstala, al-tascheth, are found in the titles of three other psalms, the 58th, 59th, and 75th.


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