David’s Songwriting in Times of Distress

It is a great study to take the inscriptions at the beginning of many of David’s Psalms and then fit them into the timeline of his life. Look specifically at the 50’s (Psalms 51-59). These inscriptions were added sometime later, but it seems that whoever added them had a good knowledge of the history of David’s life. Regardless, it makes you think about how these Psalms, God’s songs, were born out of all kinds of circumstances (victory, fear, sin, sorrow, anxiety, etc.).

Take a look at these inscriptions.

Psalm 18:1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who addressed the words of this song to the LORD on the day when the LORD rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. (See 2 Samuel 22).

Psalms 51:1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. (See 2 Samuel 11-12).

Psalms 52:1 To the choirmaster. A Maskil of David, when Doeg, the Edomite, came and told Saul, “David has come to the house of Ahimelech.” (See 1 Samuel 21).

Psalms 54:1 To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David, when the Ziphites went and told Saul, “Is not David hiding among us?” (See 1 Samuel 23:19; 26:1).

Psalms 56:1 To the choirmaster: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath. (See 1 Samuel 21:11-15).

Psalm 57:1 To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave. (See 1 Samuel 22:1; 24:3).

Psalm 59:1 To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him. (See 1 Samuel 19).

These words for today are meant to encourage you to sing and to specifically sing the Psalms. There is a Psalm for pretty much any situation you face in life. You can see that David was always writing music to express his emotions and his relationship with God during those times of great victory or immense pain. God’s word is complete – He has given us in His word what we need for any circumstance in life (2 Peter 1:3).

James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

I would also encourage you to try to write your own songs. Have you ever thought about it? You might have a hidden talent for writing God’s songs that you didn’t even know you had!

Aaron Kemple

Author: Aaron Kemple

Romans 8:1 - There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.