First, as several people have already said, keeping the credentials separate from the script is essential. (In addition to increased security, it also means that you can re-use the same script for several systems with different credentials.)
Second, you should consider not only the security of the credentials, but also the impact if/when those credentials are compromised. You shouldn't have just one password for all access to the database, you should have different credentials with different levels of access. You could, for instance, have one DB user that has the ability to perform a search in the database - that user should have read-only access. Another user may have permission to insert new records, but not to delete them. A third one may have permission to delete records.
In addition to restricting the permissions for each account, you should also have restriction on where each account can be used from. For instance, the account used by your web server should not be allowed to connect from any other IP address than that of the web server. An account with full root permissions to the database should be very restricted indeed in terms of where it may connect from and should never be used other than interactively. Also consider using stored procedures in the database to restrict exactly what can be done by each account.
These restrictions need to be implemented on the DB-server side of the system, so that even if the client side is compromised, the restrictions cannot be altered from it. (And, obviously, the DB server needs to be protected with firewalls etc in addition to the DB configuration...)
In the case of a DB account that is only permitted limited read-only access, and only from a particular IP address, you might not need any further credentials than that, depending on the sensitivity of the data and the security of the host the script is being run from. One example may be a search form on your web site, which can be run with a user that is only allowed to use a stored procedure which extracts only the information that will be presented on the web page. In this case, adding a password does not really confer any extra security, since that information is already meant to be public, and the user can't access any other data that would be more sensitive.
Also make sure that the connection to the database are made using TLS, or anybody listening on the network can get your credentials.
Third, consider what kind of credentials to use. Passwords are just one form, and not the most secure. You could instead use some form of public/private key pair, or AD/PAM or the like.
Fourth, consider the conditions under which the script will be run:
If it is run interactively, then you should enter the password, or the password to the private key, or the private key, or be logged in with a valid Kerberos ticket, when you run it - in other words, the script should get its credentials directly from you at the time that you run it, instead of reading them from some file.
If it is run from a webserver, consider setting up the credentials at the time when you start the webserver. A good example here is SSL certificates - they have a public certificate and a private key, and the private key has a password. You may store the private key on the webserver, but you still need to enter the password to it when you start Apache. You could also have the credentials on some kind of hardware, such as a physical card or an HSM, that can be removed or locked once the server is started. (Of course, the downside to this method is that the server can't restart on its own if something happens. I would prefer this to the risk of having my system compromised, but your mileage may vary...)
If the script is being run from cron, this is the hard part. You don't want to have the credentials lying around anywhere on your system where someone can access them - but you do want to have them lying around so that your script can access them, right? Well, not quite right. Consider exactly what the script is doing. What permissions does it need on the database? Can it be restricted so that it doesn't matter if the wrong person connects with those permissions? Can you instead run the script directly on the DB server that nobody else has access to, instead of from the server that does have other users? If, for some reason that I can't think of, you absolutely must have the script running on an insecure server and it must be able to do something dangerous/destructive... now is a good time to re-think your architecture.
Fifth, if you value the security of your database, you should not be running these scripts on servers that other people have access to. If someone is logged in on your system, then they will have the possibility to get at your credentials. For instance, in the case of a webserver with an SSL certificate, there is at least a theoretical possibility of someone being able to gain root and access the httpd process's memory area and extract the credentials. There has been at least one exploit in recent times where this could be done over SSL, not even requiring the attacker to be logged in.
Also consider using SELinux or apparmor or whatever is available for your system to restrict which users can do what. They will make it possible for you to disallow users to even try to connect to the database, even if they do manage to gain access to the credentials.
If all this sounds like overkill to you, and you can't afford or don't have the time to do it - then, in my (arrogant and elitist) opinion, you should not be storing anything important or sensitive in your database. And if you're not storing anything important or sensitive, then where you store your credentials is also not important - in which case, why use a password at all?
Lastly, if you absolutely cannot avoid storing some kind of credentials, you could have the credentials read-only and owned by root and root could grant ownership on an exceedingly temporary basis when requested to do so by a script (because your script should not be run as root unless absolutely necessary, and connecting to a database does not make it necessary). But it's still not a good idea.