Psalm 59

Psalm 59[a]

Against Wicked Enemies

1 For the director.[b] According to “Do not destroy.” A miktam of David. When Saul sent people to watch David’s house in order to kill him.

2 Rescue me, O my God, from my enemies;
defend me[c] against those who rise up against me.
3 Deliver me from those who do evil;
save me from the violence of the bloodthirsty.
4 They are lying in wait to take my life;
the powerful gather together against me.
For no offense or sin of mine, O Lord,
5 for no guilt of mine,
they stand ready to attack me.
Rise up to help me, and look on my plight;
6 you, Lord, God of hosts,[d] are the God of Israel.
Rouse yourself and punish all the nations;
show no mercy to these wicked deceivers. Selah
7 They return each evening,
snarling like dogs
as they prowl through the city.
8 [e]See what spews from their mouths—
they spew forth from their lips,
and they assert, “Who is there to hear us?”
9 However, you laugh at them, O Lord;
you show your disdain for all the nations.
10 [f]O my strength, I will keep watch for you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
11 O God of mercy.
May God go before me
and allow me to have my way with my enemies.
12 Do not put them to death,
lest my people forget.[g]
Scatter them in your power
and bring them to their knees,
O Lord, our shield.[h]
13 For the sins of their mouths
and the words of their lips,
let them be trapped in their pride.
For the curses and lies they speak,
14 put an end to them in your wrath;
put an end to them until they are no more.
Then it will be known to the ends of the earth
that God is the ruler over Jacob.[i] Selah
15 [j]They return each evening,
snarling like dogs
as they prowl through the city.
16 They roam about searching for food,
and they growl if they do not have their fill.
17 But I will sing of your strength;
when morning dawns, I will proclaim your kindness.[k]
For you have been my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.
18 O my Strength, I will sing your praises,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me love.[l]

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 59:1 The most realistic situation for this psalm is as follows: a believer, a Jewish group, or the whole people is exposed to persecution; it comes from forces that wish to impose paganism on the exiles or perhaps on Jerusalem itself. Like raging dogs that prowl the night in the cities of the East in search of prey, evil-intentioned persons attack the innocent victim with slander and curses, seeking to destroy his reputation and ultimately his life. The description is ferocious and the imprecation vehement and vengeful; but God will not tolerate lying and perfidy without end; the Almighty One cannot let himself be mocked, for his honor is at stake (v. 14).
    We can pray this psalm to God and to Christ inserting our own name in all our temporal struggles, and even more in the bitter spiritual struggles we must constantly wage against our powerful spiritual enemies.
  2. Psalm 59:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation. According to “Do not destroy”: see note on Ps 57:1. Miktam: see note on Ps 16:1. The superscription imagines that the occasion for this psalm was the narrative in 1 Sam 19:11-17. Some believe it might have been when Jerusalem was under siege as at the time of Hezekiah (see 2 Ki 18:19), while others point to the time of Nehemiah (see Neh 4).
  3. Psalm 59:2 Defend me: literally, “lift me to a high, safe place.”
  4. Psalm 59:6 Lord, God of hosts: an expression used first in 1 Sam 1:3 to designate the Lord as the sovereign over all powers in the universe—the God of all armies, both the heavenly army (see Ps 68:17; Deut 33:2; Jos 5:14; Hab 3:8) and the army of Israel (see 1 Sam 17:45). See also note on Ps 24:10. God of Israel . . . punish all the nations: seems to indicate an attack on Israel by the nations.
  5. Psalm 59:8 The wicked curse God as if he cannot see and hear and will not respond. But God laughs at them (see Pss 2:4; 37:13) and listens until the day of reckoning when the curses will fall back in judgment on the wicked themselves.
  6. Psalm 59:10 The psalmist asks God to put his foes to death, so that his people may not be seduced by them and so that the people will remember this particular saving act longer than they have remembered others (see Pss 78:11; 106:13).
  7. Psalm 59:12 Another translation possible is: “O God, put them to death, / so that they may not seduce my people.”
  8. Psalm 59:12 O Lord, our shield: just as the king was regarded as the people’s shield in ancient Israel (see Ps 84:10), so the Lord was called the Shield of his people (see Pss 7:11; 84:12; 89:19; 91:4; 115:9-11; Deut 33:29; Prov 30:5). Accordingly, the psalmist invokes this attribute of the Lord at this point.
  9. Psalm 59:14 God’s punishment of the nations will show that God, the King of Israel (see Ps 24:1, 6; Isa 41:21ff; 63:19), is also the Master of the universe (see Pss 46:11f; 83:19).
  10. Psalm 59:15 The wicked wreak havoc like a pack of dogs, snarling and howling as they prowl about the city. The godly take courage in hearing of God’s laughter (v. 9) and the assurance of his love (vv. 10-11). For the Lord is their strength and their fortress, who will deliver them from all their enemies and whom they will praise.
  11. Psalm 59:17 After the night of danger (vv. 7, 15), the psalmist will sing to God on the morning of deliverance (see notes on Ps 57; 57:9). Kindness: see note on Ps 6:5.
  12. Psalm 59:18 The psalmist vows to offer ritual praise for his deliverance (see note on Ps 7:18).

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