This morning I read Psalm 57. The introductory verse reads:
For the Chief Musician; Al- tashheth. [A Psalm] of David; Michtam; when he fled from Saul, in the cave.
The word Michtam immediately grabbed me. Michtam is first used in Psalm 16, then again in Psalms 57-60. A common definition for the word Michtam is “golden,” from which we are to infer that these Psalms are special, worthy of gold. Charles Spurgeon, in Treasury of David, used the term precious, and tells us that one of his friends believes Michtam means secret, as in a precious secret within this Psalm.
It occurs to me how easy it is to get carried away with this idea a secret. Look at all the self-help books that imply there are easy remedies to our problems kept secret from us and if we will buy the book, the author will guide us into truth. Huh! Arrogance. Foolishness. It is the Holy Spirit that guides us; there are things hidden and secret, and He will bring us into the truth.
Back to Michtam. “Rashi suggests that this word refers to an item that a person carries with him at all times. Thus, David here describes this Psalm as containing ideas that he would carry with him at every stage and setting throughout the life, concepts that he deemed vital as part of his day-to-day spiritual awareness.” —Daily Tehillim
The writer of Psalms Blogger refers to another writer who suggests Michtam means “hidden.” Stuff happens in our lives that we don’t understand, its real purpose is “hidden” from us. Ours isn’t to question why, but simply trust. “All things work for the good. . .” even if at the moment the situation isn’t understood or pleasant.
For me, all the definitions fit well in the context of Psalm 57. There are lessons we can learn from King David’s way of turning to G-d as his hiding place, as his refuge. The Psalm is based on King David’s experience of nearly being discovered by King Saul (see Samuel chapter 24), who entered the cave in which King David was hiding. I read the Psalm and see a wealth of wisdom hidden in what could be a simple Psalm. For the perilous days ahead, we can carry with us this Psalm. We can keep a literal print copy to carry with us and remind us of how Kind David handled the seemingly disastrous situations of his life. We can hold the wisdom of this Psalm, as we do all the promises and covenants we are given, in our hearts. We know that as G-d covered King David, keeping him safe, so G-d’s covering over us will keep us safe. We, like King David, will turn to our L-rd Y’shuaJesus Who is the anointed of G-d to redeem us.
Thinking of things secret and hidden: sometimes there are things that the Psalms “speak” to our hearts that we need not have directly explained to us by any teacher. This is true, too, of all the Bible. I am reminded of a comment by a writer friend about the end of one of my stories. He wanted me to “explain” the ending something like “the moral of the story is. . .” While I gratefully accepted his suggestion, I didn’t act on it. Some things a writer shouldn’t “spell” out; it’s up to the reader to infer or interpret the moral from the story itself. Our L-rd Y’shuaJesus understood this when He spoke about parables, and their usage. Paul spoke about the Gospel being hidden from those that are perishing.
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. —2 Corinthians 4:3-6
In the context of the Bible, it is the L-rd Who opens our minds to the hidden, seemingly secret wisdom. We seek Him and we find Him, and we find the meaning of His Words. If we carry these various understandings in our hearts, we will find ourselves sheltered beneath the “wings of G-d.”
And if you find someone who wants to tell you all the secrets of the Bible, run. . .