After the opening cry of verse 1, which sets the theme for the psalm, David begins the prayer in which he asks Jehovah to rescue him in his forsaken situation. His prayer has the following five parts.

What does David mean when he asks God to save him "by your name" in verse 1? That idea does not have a great deal of importance for us, because we do not often think of the "name" itself being particularly significant. We think of God but not the name of God. For the Old Testament saints it was different. For them names were important. They were understood to sum up the character and personality of the person named.

Yesterday we were describing the setting of Psalm 54. David had gone to the town of Keilah to rescue the city from the Philistines. But when David discovered that Saul was coming in pursuit, and that the city was going to deliver David over to Saul, David escaped and fled into the desert of Ziph.

It is not always possible to trace a connection between psalms, but sometimes it is, and that is the case with Psalm 54 and those that surround it. Psalm 54 follows nicely upon Psalm 53. The earlier psalm was about people who act as if "there is no God,” the moral and spiritual "fools" of this world. In Psalm 54 the psalmist is surrounded by just such people. He speaks of them as "ruthless men...men without regard for God" (v. 3). The earlier psalm ends with "the faith of the saints," that is, the faith of believers living in just such a world. Psalm 54 is by one of those saints, by David.

The fruit of sin. Sin destroys the one who pursues it, of course. But verse 4 also shows how it impacts others. The verse uses a simple image, describing evildoers as "those who devour my people as men eat bread." In the Middle East, as in the western world, bread is the most common of food staples. It is eaten regularly and with scarcely a thought. This seems to be how the psalmist regards evildoers as acting when they further their own interests. They devour the weak and poor in order that they might grow strong and rich themselves. What an apt description of our own "dog eat dog" world! We know people who function exactly like that. They don't care what happens to anyone else. Underneath the glamour, that is sin's true nature.