Introduction to Psalm 57

To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave. Some think the words "Altaschith" are the beginning of a song, to the tune of which this was set, as Aben Ezra; others, that they are taken from Deuteronomy 9:26; they signifying "destroy not" {g}; others, that they refer to what David said to Abishai, when he would have slain Saul, "destroy him not", 1 Samuel 26:9; but that was an affair that happened after this psalm was penned: they seem rather to be words which were frequently used by David in the time of his distress; who often said unto the Lord, either in an ejaculatory way, or vocally, or both, "do not destroy [me]", or "suffer [me] to be destroyed"; of which he was in great danger, as appears from

Psalms 57:4; and therefore prefixed these words in the title of the psalm, in memorial of the inward anguish of his mind, and of what his mouth then uttered; and to this agrees the Chaldee paraphrase,

"concerning the trouble at the time when David said, do not destroy.''

Of the word "michtam", See Gill on "Psalms 16:1", title. The occasion and time of writing this psalm were David's fleeing from Saul in the cave; or rather "into" {h} the cave, as it should be rendered; for it was after that Saul was gone that David and his men came out of the cave; but he fled hither for fear of Saul; and while he was here, Saul, with three thousand men, came to the mouth of the cave, and he himself went into it; which must have put David and his men into a very great panic, there being no retreat, nor any human possibility of an escape, but must expect to fall into the hands of the enemy, and be cut to pieces at once. This cave was in Engedi, 1 Samuel 24:1; of which Le Bruyn {i} says, it is on the top of a very high hill, and is extremely dark; which agrees with the account in the above place, since it was on the rocks of the wild goats Saul sought David, and coming to the sheepcotes there, went into the cave where David was.

{g} txvt-la "ne disperdas", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus; "ne perdas", Tigurine version, Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis
{h} hremb "in speluncam", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, &c. "in specum", Tigurine version.
{i} Voyage to the Levant, ch. 51. p. 199.