This introduction serves as an invitation to join in an on-going journey of discovery. You will not need to buy tickets nor make travel plans. All that's required is your Bible and a quiet place to read and meditate. Together we'll explore the Book of Psalms, Israel’s hymnal and longest collection of poetry.  

Psalm 57:6-11

How Ironic!

(6) They set a net for my steps. My soul was bowed down. They dug a pit before me, but they have fallen into it themselves. (Selah) (7) My heart is fixed, God, my heart is fixed. I will sing and make music. (8) Awake, my glory! Awake harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn! (9) I will give thanks to you among the peoples, O Lord. I will sing praises to you among the nations, (10) for your steadfast love (is) great to the heavens. Your faithfulness (reaches) to the clouds. (11) Be exalted above the heavens, God! (Let) your glory (be) over all the earth!

This second half of the psalm contains several attention-grabbing repetitions and poetic devices. In the opening two verses, we find a play on words in the three occurrences of the Hebrew verb for “set” or “fix.” First, David uses the word to describe his enemies “setting a net” to ensnare him in their trap (vs. 6). Then in a delightful juxtaposition, the psalmist twice declares, “My heart is fixed (set)...” to sing praise to God (vs. 7).

Three times in the next verse we find the verb “awake(n)” (vs. 8). After rousing himself to give God praise, David “awakens” musical instruments to accompany his praise and then, in exaggerated language that expresses his overflowing joy he declares, “I will awaken the dawn.” Finally, David in verse 11 repeats verse 5 word for word to emphasize the thrust of the psalm: “Let God be exalted on high!”

I.  Why praise God  (6 & 7)
II.  How to praise God  (8-11) 

God’s ensnaring our enemies in the net they originally set for us should motivate us to give extravagant praise to our exalted Lord.

A lot of humor results from irony. To be ironic, a given situation must contain an unexpected twist. This means, according to the dictionary definition, that it should be “coincidental or contradictory in a humorous or poignant and extremely improbable way.” Verses 6 & 7 contain an example of such irony in the play on words found there. In the same way that David’s enemies have “set” or “fixed” a net to trap him and in which they are now ensnared, so the psalmist now “sets” or “fixes” his heart to praise God. What a deliciously ironic outcome! The enemies’ intention to capture and destroy God’s anointed king results, instead, in God’s receiving praise from David’s grateful heart.

We find examples of such irony throughout scripture. In Genesis consider Joseph’s response to his brothers who had sold him into slavery in Egypt: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20). Or think of Jesus’ description of the cross in John’s Gospel: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (Jn. 12:24). Paul described his imprisonment in Rome to the Philippians in quite positive terms: “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ” (Phil 1:12 & 13).

The next time we are caught in a situation that seems to be heading for disaster, we should remember how powerful God is and ask him to turn our negative circumstances into something far more positive. Remember Paul’s encouragement: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Psalm 58:1-5

Psalm 57:1-5