On the RunBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
This Psalm was composed by David while he was fleeing from his rebellious son Avshalom (Absalom), as described in II Samuel chapter 15. (While this incident occurred later in David’s life, the Psalms are not arranged in the order of their composition.)
David acknowledges that he has many antagonists – his own son among them! Many prominent people have turned on him; they think that G-d will not save him because he had sinned. David knows, however, that G-d shields him; He will protect David not only physically and spiritually, but He will restore him to his throne and his former honor.
David calls out to G-d, Who answers him from the future site of the Temple. In David’s darkest moments, he never despaired because he knew that G-d was with him. David does not fear his attackers; instead, he calls upon G-d, upon Whom David relies. G-d slaps the face of David’s enemies and shuts them up. Salvation is in G-d’s “hands” and Israel rightly blesses Him for it.
This Psalm contains the first occurences in the Book of the word “selah.” A common translation of this word is “forever” (see Talmud Eruvin 54a), although that does not always make the most sense in context. Other opinions are that it indicates a point to be emphasized, or a particular musical note. (Remember that the Psalms were composed as songs that were sung in the Temple.)