Psalm 54 – Wikipedia

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Psalm 54
Francesco d'Antonio del Cherico - Leaf from a Gradual- Initial (D) with John the Baptist - 1950.1 - Cleveland Museum of Art.tif
Other name
  • Psalm 53
  • “Deus in nomine tuo salvum me fac”
Text Attributed to King David
Language Hebrew (original)

Psalm 54 is the 54th psalm of the Book of Psalms, beginning in English in the King James Version: “Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength”. In the slightly different numbering system used in the Greek Septuagint and Latin Vulgate translations of the Bible, this psalm is Psalm 53. In Latin, it is known as “Deus in nomine tuo salvum me fac”,[1] Attributed to David, it was written for one who finds oneself betrayed by a friend.[2]

The psalm forms a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant liturgies.

Hebrew Bible version[edit]

Following is the Hebrew text of Psalm 54:[3]

Verse Hebrew
1 לַֽמְנַצֵּ֥חַ בִּ֜נְגִינֹ֗ת מַשְׂכִּ֥יל לְדָוִֽד
2 בְּב֣וֹא הַ֖זִּיפִים וַיֹּֽאמְר֥וּ לְשָׁא֑וּל הֲלֹ֥א דָ֜וִ֗ד מִסְתַּתֵּ֥ר עִמָּֽנוּ
3 אֱלֹהִים בְּשִׁמְךָ֣ הֽוֹשִׁיעֵ֑נִי וּבִגְבוּרָֽתְךָ֥ תְדִינֵֽנִי
4 אֱלֹהִים שְׁמַ֣ע תְּפִלָּתִ֑י הַֽ֜אֲזִ֜ינָה לְאִמְרֵי־פִֽי
5 כִּ֚י זָרִ֨ים | קָ֚מוּ עָלַ֗י וְ֖עָֽרִיצִים בִּקְשׁ֣וּ נַפְשִׁ֑י לֹא־שָׂ֨מוּ אֱלֹהִ֖ים לְנֶגְדָּ֣ם סֶֽלָה
6 הִנֵּ֣ה אֱ֖לֹהִים עֹזֵ֣ר לִ֑י אֲ֜דֹנָ֗י בְּֽסֹמְכֵ֥י נַפְשִֽׁי
7 יָשִׁ֣יב (כתיב יָשִׁ֣וב) הָ֖רַע לְשֹֽׁרְרָ֑י בַּֽ֜אֲמִתְּךָ֗ הַצְמִיתֵֽם
8 בִּנְדָבָ֥ה אֶזְבְּחָה־לָּ֑ךְ א֘וֹדֶ֚ה שִׁמְךָ֖ יְהֹוָ֣ה כִּי־טֽוֹב
9 כִּ֣י מִכָּל־צָרָ֣ה הִצִּילָ֑נִי וּ֜בְאֹֽיְבַ֗י רָֽאֲתָ֥ה עֵינִֽי

King James Version[edit]

The following is the full English text of the Psalm from the King James Bible.

(To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil, A Psalm of David,
when the Ziphims came and said to Saul, Doth not David hide himself with us?)
  1. Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength.
  2. Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.
  3. For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul: they have not set God before them. Selah.
  4. Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.
  5. He shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off in thy truth.
  6. I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good.
  7. For he hath delivered me out of all trouble: and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies.

Verse numbering[edit]

Verses 1 and 2 in the Hebrew Bible correspond to the designation in English translations:

1To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil, A Psalm of David,
2when the Ziphims came and said to Saul, Doth not David hide himself with us? (KJV)

Verses 1–7 in English versions correspond to verses 3–9 in the Hebrew text.[4]

The Ziphims lived in the wilderness of Ziph, a district to the south-east of Hebron in the Judean mountains.[5]

The historical setting of this short Psalm is given in its title, almost a direct quotation from 1 Samuel 23:19 (a similar style of historical setting as with Psalm 52).[6] It is considered one of the psalms containing prayers against false accusations, linked with an ordeal, the taking of an oath, or an appeal to the ‘higher court’, as indicated in the following points:[6]

  • The phrase ‘vindicate me’ (verse 1)
  • A royal perspective of opponents as ‘strangers’ (verse 3; the New Revised Standard Version amends to ‘the insolent’), ‘the ruthless’ (verse 3), and ‘enemies’ (verse 5)
  • A prayer before battle appealing to God as personal savior with a covenant ‘faithfulness’ (verse 5).

It can also be described as a lament, prayer, or complaint of an individual.[6]

Verses 1-3 pray for help and answer. Following an appeal (verses 1–2), the psalmist describes the danger facing him (verse 3), but maintains his confidence in God. In the second half of the psalm (verses 4–7), the poet, in the certainty of being heard, rejoices in help, and makes a vow of thanksgiving,[4] he promises to sacrifice a free-will offering to express ‘the voluntary gratitude of a thankful heart’ (verses 6–7, another example of the ‘certainty of hearing’).[6]

Book of Common Prayer[edit]

In the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer, this psalm is appointed to be read on the evening of the tenth day of the month.[7]

The Psalm is a Proper Psalm for Good Friday.[5]

Musical settings[edit]

Heinrich Schütz set Psalm 54 in a metred version in German, “Hilf mir, Gott, durch den Namen dein”, SWV 151, as part of the Becker Psalter, first published in 1628. Alan Hovhaness set text from this Psalm and from Psalms 55 and 56 in his choral work Make a Joyful Noise.[8]


  1. ^ Parallel Latin/English Psalter / Psalmus 53 / 54 Archived 7 July 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ The Artscroll Tehillim, page 110
  3. ^ “Tehillim – Psalms – Chapter 54”. 2019. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Keil, Carl Friedrich; Delitzsch, Franz. (1857-1878), Commentary on the Old Testament: Psalm 54, accessed 24 November 2021
  5. ^ a b Kirkpatrick, A. (1906), Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Psalm 54, accessed 3 November 2020
  6. ^ a b c d Rodd, C. S. (2007). “18. Psalms”. In Barton, John; Muddiman, John (eds.). The Oxford Bible Commentary (first (paperback) ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 382. ISBN 978-0199277186. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  7. ^ Church of England, Book of Common Prayer: The Psalter as printed by John Baskerville in 1762, pp. 196ff
  8. ^ “Alan Hovhaness List of Works by Opus Number”. Retrieved 2022-10-30.

External links[edit]