Snakes in the Grass

Psalm 54

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 54

Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

Words marked with a *star are described in the word list at the end.

The translated Bible text has yet to go through Advanced Checking.


Jesus said, "You children of snakes, you are *evil. How can you say anything that is good?" (Matthew 12:34)

Psalm 54

  (This is) for the music leader.
(He must use) *musical instruments.
(It is) a *maskil for David.
(It was) when the men that lived in Ziph went to Saul.
They told him, "David is hiding with us".

v1   God, give me help because of your name.
  Use your power to make me safe.

v2   God, hear my *prayer and listen to what I am saying.

v3   Because my enemies are fighting against me
  and *cruel people are trying to kill me.
  They do not think about God.  *SELAH

v4   But God, listen and give me help!
  *Lord, it is you that keeps me alive!

v5   Send back this *evil to my enemies.
  Because you (love what) is true, destroy them.

v6   I want to *sacrifice to you because I am free to do it.
  I want to *praise your name, *LORD, because it is good.

v7   (Your name) saved me from all my trouble.
  When I looked at my enemies I saw (that I had won the battle).

The Story of Psalm 54

Saul wanted to kill David. David went to Ziph to hide from Saul. Ziph was near where David's family lived. David gave help to the people of Ziph to fight their enemies. The enemies were the Philistines. But the men of Ziph *betrayed David. This means that they told Saul where David was. This was wrong because:

    David had given them help

    David was one of their tribe (a tribe is *like a big family).

A snake is an animal. In the Bible, it is often a picture of Satan. Satan is Godís great enemy. When Jesus called people "snakes", he meant that they were friends of Satan. "A snake in the grass" is an enemy that you think is a friend. The men of Ziph were *like this with David.

What Psalm 54 means

The important word (or key word) in the psalm is name. In verse 1 we read "because of your name". This means "because of all that your name means". What does Godís name mean? It means many things, but one is that he will give help to his servants. In verses 6 and 7 we find the name again. But now it is different!

In verses 1 - 3 David is asking for help because of Godís name. In verses 4 - 7 David has received Godís help, so he *praises Godís name.

Something to do

1.  Find as many names for God as you can. Does each one tell you something different about God?

2.  Read the story of what happened in 1 Samuel 23:1-15. In 1 Samuel, Ziph becomes Keilah, one of the towns in the *wilderness of Ziph. A *wilderness is a wild place where there are not many farms.

Word list

betray ~ lead an enemy to someone.

cruel ~ not kind, hurting people.

evil ~ very very bad people (or the things that they do).

like ~ another word for "as".

LORD ~ a special name for God; only his people use it (look after Psalm 25).

lord ~ someone with authority (with a capital L a name for God, look after Psalm 25).

maskil ~ a psalm that teaches you something.

musical instruments ~ something that you make music with.

praise ~ (noun, or being something) words that say that someone or something is very good.

praise ~ (verb, or doing something) say that someone or something is very good.

praises ~ saying good things about someone, and how great they are.

prayer ~ words that you say when you pray.

sacrifice ~ an animal killed and burnt for God.

sacrifice ~ burn an animal to make God happy (see after Psalms 4 and 50).

SELAH ~ a word often used in the psalms; we do not know what it means, probably stop and think, or pray, or make music.

wilderness ~ a wild place with not many farms.


© 2000-2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words)

July 2001

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