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Bible Commentaries

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Psalms 59

Psalms 59

THE Psalm falls, like so many others, into two chief divisions, the one of 10 verses, and the other of 7. The ten, as usual, are divided into two fives, the seven fall into three and four. The first strophe in both parts contains a prayer for the overthrow of the ungodly enemies, and the deliverance of the Psalmist, Psalms 59:1-5, and Psalms 59:11-13; the second, the hope of this overthrow and this deliverance; and the confident expectation of the same, Psalms 59:6-10, and Psalms 59:14-17. At the conclusion of the prayer-strophes, which are already distinguished from the two others by the use of the imperatives, the Selah is both times used, externally also bounding them off. Hence the main divisions do not lie loosely beside each other; in the second hope-strophe the first is again resumed. The first verses of both take up the beginning of the first and expand it, their last ones the conclusion. It is not accidental that in the second main division the confidence externally predominates over the prayer, (4-3), while in the first the hope occupies the same space with the prayer, (5 and 5). It is in perfect accordance with this, that in the second hope-strophe, the hope has received a firm foundation in the internal assurance of being heard, and has thereby risen to confidence, which discovers itself especially in the two concluding verses.

The occasion of the Psalm is given in the superscription: to the chief musician, destroy not, (Psalms 57) of David, a secret, (Psalms 16, Psalms 56, Psalms 57) when Saul sent, and caused his house to be watched, that he might kill him. The history is contained in 1 Samuel 19:11, ss. Saul caused the house of David to be surrounded, with orders to kill him, whenever he might come out. David was delivered through the artifice of his wife Michal, which was blessed by God, but this transaction formed the commencement of his long-continued flight, during which he had to encounter unheard-of dangers, and to endure nameless sufferings. The fact being of such importance, we are prepared to expect, that David would perpetuate its remembrance by a Psalm, the superscription of which would expressly make mention of it, (comp. on Psalms 34). Such a superscription was the more necessary, since, according to David’s manner, the references to the event in the Psalm itself, which was naturally composed immediately after the danger had been surmounted, are very general—the special references to it, which have been sought in Psalms 59:6 and in Psalms 59:14 and Psalms 59:15, are not found in these. So much only is clear from the Psalm, that it was called forth by some plot upon the life of the Psalmist; for the rest, the relations are the general ones belonging to the Sauline period.

Many modern expositors have rejected the announcements of the superscription, and denied the composition by David. But their reasons are any thing but convincing. The description of the enemies as mighty or powerful in Psalms 59:3, it is maintained, suits better heathenish oppressors, tyrants, than the messengers of Saul. As if David had not, in all the Psalms of this period, primarily and chiefly before his eyes Saul himself, and his instruments merely as such, merely as members of that body of wickedness of which he was the head! The idea that the heathen being once and again mentioned, Psalms 59:5 and Psalms 59:8, indicates that the Psalm refers to foreign enemies, rests upon a false exposition, as we shall see. As to the multiplication of titles of God in Psalms 59:5 proving, as is alleged, that the Psalm belongs to a later age, this is disproved by a single glance at the prayer of David in 2 Samuel 7, which is distinguished by a heaping together of the names of God, and where, particularly in 2 Samuel 7:27, “for thou Jehovah, the Lord of Hosts, God of Israel,” the address here is literally repeated, with the omission merely of Elohim.

The positive grounds for referring this Psalm to David, and at the period in question, are, besides the superscription, to which the Psalm itself appears to contain a reference in Psalms 59:9, and the enigmatical character of which (indicated by: “destroy not,” and: “the secret,”) bespeaks David for its author—the use, characteristic of David, of military expressions, Psalms 59:4, Psalms 59:9, Psalms 59:16, the strong asseveration of innocence, Psalms 59:3-4, and the lively conviction, also so characteristic of David, of the reality of a divine recompense, of the connection between a venomous slandering, and violent deeds, which meets us in all the Psalms of the Sauline period; to which may be added the circumstance, that all the strikingly agreeing parallel passages belong to the Psalms of David, and especially to such as were composed in the times of Saul.

Those, who reject the superscription, wander hither and thither, and each one excogitates his own hypothesis and satisfies himself. According to De Wette it is a plaint of the people, and has reference to the relations which arose in the time of the exile. According to Ewald, the poet is one of the last kings of Judah, who was besieged in Jerusalem by a multitude of heathenish enemies, the surrounding tribes in league with the Chaldeans—of such a combination history says nothing. Koester refers the Psalm to “the nocturnal assaults of the Samaritans in the time of Nehemiah,” but himself also discreetly adds, that “there is no absolute certainty on the subject.” Hitzig pleads for the times of the Maccabees.

The objections to these hypotheses are that the assaulted is throughout only one, in the presence of a great number of mighty adversaries, no hint being ever given that a multitude lay concealed in this oneness, the Psalmist rather expressly distinguishing himself, in Psalms 59:14, from “his people;” that the reproach particularly discovering itself in the Psalm of venomous slandering, and malicious lying, comp. Psalms 59:7 and Psalms 59:12, does not at all suit heathenish enemies, nor also the epithet of “men of blood,” in Psalms 59:2, which is never used of heathenish national enemies; that the heathen are excluded by Psalms 59:14-15, according to which Israel has the spectacle of the humiliation of the wicked constantly before his eyes, sees them wandering about in misery and want; that the threatening of a hungry and wretched existence in Psalms 59:6 and Psalms 59:15 is suitable only to individuals, not to nations; finally, that the overthrow of the wicked could afford a proof that “God rules in Jacob,” Psalms 59:13, only if the Psalm refers to domestic enemies, to conflicts among the people of God, upon whom he exercises judgment.

Verses 1-5

The Psalmist prays for deliverance from his enemies, Psalms 59:1 and Psalms 59:2, grounds this prayer by alluding to the powerful malice of the enemies, and his own innocence, Psalms 59:3 and Psalms 59:4, and reminds God, that he, as the Almighty and the Covenant-God of Israel, cannot let wickedness rage with impunity among his own people. Ver. 1. Deliver me from my enemies, my God, and defend me from those who raise themselves against me. Ver. 2. Deliver me from the evil-doers, and from the men of blood redeem me. Ver. 3. For lo! they lay wait for my-soul, gather themselves against me the strong, without my crime and my sin, O Lord. Ver. 4. Without my fault they run and plant themselves firmly; awake and meet me, and see here. Ver. 5. And thou, Lord, God of Hosts, God of Israel, wake up, visit all the heathen, be not gracious to all wicked men of perfidy. On Psalms 59:1 and Psalms 59:2, Arnd: “Although these words are in themselves simple and mean, yet we must look mainly upon the heart and the spirit of David, how firmly he held by his faith and confidence in God.” Upon שגב , to lift up, in the sense of “deliver,” comp. on Psalms 20:1.

On the expression: they lay wait for my soul, in Psalms 59:8, comp. 1 Samuel 19:11, “And Michal his wife said to David, If thou deliver not thy soul this night, to-morrow thou shalt be slain,” Psalms 7:2, Psalms 7:5. That עז , strong, (not, rash, Ew.) is used in its common signification, appears from עזו in Psalms 59:9, עזךָ? in Psalms 59:16, עזי in Psalms 59:17, and Psalms 18:17. Arnd: “The strong gather themselves against me, as if he would say: But I am weak, be thou, however, my strength, and vindicate my innocence.” גור , as in Psalms 56:6, in the sense of gathering themselves; the exact agreement with that passage implies, since both bear the mark of originality, the identity of the writers of both Psalms. The words, “not my crime, and not my sin,” is a concise form for, “not on account of my sins.” Where the relation in itself is clear, there not rarely the word expressive of the relation is omitted. Most render: not is my crime. But the supplying of the is is not enough, and then instead of לא there would rather have been אין . The crime, comp. on Psalms 19, is the particular, the sin the general. It were, for example, a crime to project a plan for murdering the king; while under sin, all disobedience and unfaithfulness is comprehended. When David here denies, that sin is the cause of his suffering, he thinks of the human cause. He was deeply penetrated by the conviction, that before the divine judgment-seat, an entirely different standard is to be taken; he recognized with bitter anguish in every suffering a deserved punishment. We are to compare the similar protestations of the innocence of David in 1 Samuel 24:10, and in Psalms 7:3-5. On the “O Lord,” Kimchi: “Thou Lord knowest it.” David can appeal to the knowledge of the Omniscient for his innocence in respect to Saul.

How necessary it is to have this innocence coupled with the assault, if this it is to be an occasion for God to step in is indicated by the Psalmist, while in Psalms 59:4, he rises from the innocence to the assault, as in Psalms 59:3 he had risen from the assault to the innocence. Only the assault of the innocent comes under the idea of perfidiousness, which the Psalmist in Psalms 59:5 describes as the object of divine judgment. Upon בלי , without, comp. Ewald, § 506. To this: without fault, naturally suggests itself to be supplied: on my part. The: “ run,” is used, as in Psalms 18:29, in a war-like sense. יכוננו , fut. Hithp. from כין , with compensation of the ת charact. by Dag., which is common with this verb, is for the most part expounded: they prepare themselves. But we have the less reason for renouncing here the elsewhere common sig. of the Hithp.: to be settled, established, as the preparing of themselves for the tempestuous onset, does not follow, but goes before. It is beyond doubt a military expression: to fix one’s self, to get firm footing, from the attacking host, which, planting its firm foot in the walls of the beleaguered city, is ready to rush in over them, or rather through them, as being already broken through, into the city, comp. Job 30:14. On עורה , not with Ewald, stir thyself, but: awake, comp. Psalms 7:6, Psalms 44:23. Meet me, as a true member of the covenant for my relief. At the, “see,” the object is awanting: their wickedness and my danger. Calvin: “When he says, see, he mingles the feeling of the flesh with the teaching of faith. For as if God, with shut eyes, had overlooked till then all unrighteousness, he prays, that he would now begin to see; this after the weakness of the human mind. Meanwhile he confesses, while he attributes seeing to God, that nothing is concealed from his inspection. Yet it is to be noticed, that David, while he so stammers after the manner of a man, at the same time is satisfied, that his sufferings, as well as his own innocence, and the wickedness of his enemies, are known to God. But he gives over in these words the whole cause to the judgment of God for trial.”

On Psalms 59:5, Geier: “He here resumes more fully the address already begun in the preceding verse, while he describes Him more narrowly, whose awaking he wishes. But the names contain at the same time, the reasons for the divine help being immediately extended to him.” The “Jehovah” is the deepest and most comprehensive name of God. The following names divide its import into the particular parts. Jehovah is first Elohim, God in the full sense, (God) of Hosts, (comp. on Sabaoth at Psalms 24:10,) the Almighty; he therefore cannot want power to restrain the mighty ones of the earth, whose strength is sheer impotence against him; he cannot find, should the right not prevail, the justification that is so often sought for human judges. Then, Jehovah is the God of Israel; Arnd: “that is, who has taken the church, with all the believing members, under his powerful support.” Has he, as God and as Sabaoth, the power, he must as the God of Israel have the will to punish and deliver. The God of Israel (comp. Psalms 59:13) must establish right and righteousness without which Israel comes to nothing. We may compared Jeremiah 35:17, where the God of Israel is called God as judge of the wicked in it; there, and in Jeremiah 38:17, the Jehovah, the God of Hosts, the God of Israel, are taken from this verse, only with the putting of אלהי instead of אלהים here. The proper wish and the proper prayer of the Psalmist here is contained in the words: be not gracious to all wicked perfidious persons, prop. all perfidious persons of wickedness; perfidiousness in Israel, the people who are all friends and brethren, is every violation of neighbourly love not called forth by the commission of any misconduct, comp. on Psalms 25:2; wickedness (comp. the פעלי און in Psalms 59:2, through which the opinion of Koester, in itself of no weight, that און here denotes idolatry, is disproved,) is that, through which the perfidiousness has been committed: toward brothers and friends to be wicked is perfidiousness. That these words alone could contain the proper prayer of the Psalmist, is clear simply from this, that they alone admit a reference to enemies from amongst the covenant people: only in Israel was wickedness at the same time perfidiousness. Now, since the enemies could not be of a twofold kind, at once heathens and Jews, the preceding supplication: “awake and visit all heathen,” can only have the force of a preliminary step to the proper prayer, and that so much the more, as the wicked perfidious persons are manifestly those of whose unprovoked attacks the Psalmist had complained in Psalms 59:3 and Psalms 59:4—comp. in Psalms 25:3: those who without cause are perfidious. In substance: awaken to visit all heathen, is q. d. thou, who judgest all heathen. Because every special judgment of God is a consequence of this, that he is judge of the whole world, as already Abraham calls him, so the holy Psalmists very often place him as such before their eyes, ere they call upon him to judge in their own cause, comp. on Psalms 7:7-8, Psalms 56:7. The right view is given already by Calvin: “He reasons from the greater to the less, since not even the profane and aliens can escape the hand and vengeance of God, a more sure and severe judgment must impend the domestic enemies, who, under the name of brethren, are inimical to the pious, and disturb the order divinely settled in the church. At the same time also, he wrestles with a temptation, with which it is probable he was much disquieted. For he was not pressed by four or five wicked persons, but by a great multitude. On the other hand, however, he elevates his mind, considering it to be the proper office of God not only to bring a few into order, but to inflict punishment on the crimes of the whole world. For as God’s judgment extends to the farthest bounds of the earth, he ought not to be frightened by that multitude, which was still but a small portion of the human race.” That the point brought out last by Calvin is to be kept most prominently in view; that the Psalmist on this account especially places God here before his eyes as the judge of all the heathen, so that he might be no more disturbed by the great number and might of his enemies, is manifest from Psalms 59:8.

Verses 6-10

In the second strophe of the first main division, the prayer is followed by the hope. Ver. 6. They shall return back at even, howl like a dog, and run through the city. Ver. 7. Behold they belch with their mouth, swords are on their lips; for who hears? Ver. 8. And thou, O Lord, laughest at them, thou mockest all the heathen. Ver. 9. His strength will I preserve to thee, for God is my fortress. Ver. 10. My God will with his favour surprise me, God makes me see my desire upon my adversaries. The Psalmist in Psalms 59:6 sees his enemies, the strong, Psalms 59:3, brought down, wandering about in hunger and sorrow. Because in their conduct they resembled hounds, with hound-like fury had attacked him, comp. on Psalms 22:16, Ps 26:20, they must now also experience a hound-like fate; in regard to which we must consider, that the dogs in the east run about without any master, and seek their food wherever they can find it. Psalms 59:11 gives the commentary on this passage: “Make them wander about through thy power, and overthrow them,” the more so as in Psalms 59:15 there is a resumption and farther expansion of what is said here. Whence it is clear, that our passage must not be referred, with many, to the want of success of the plan against David, that it rather contains the hope of the overthrow of the wicked themselves. They return back at even, namely, after they have in vain sought the whole day for food. The dog cries or howls for hunger. They also run through the city at even, in order, perhaps, to obtain somewhat of nourishment. Various expositors find here, not the hope, but the wish of the overthrow of the wicked: might they return. But this is refuted by all the other contents of the strophe, which throughout expresses, not a wish, but a hope, and the resumption in Psalms 59:14 and Psalms 59:15, comp. especially the second half of the latter verse. Then, according to some, the verse must refer, not to the fate of the wicked, but, as Psalms 59:7, to their procedure, (Ewald, Maur.) But Psalms 59:14 is opposed to this view. When there is such a similarity in the words, a difference in the sense is not to be supposed; this would certainly have been indicated by some change in the expression. Then, by this exposition, we cannot explain why precisely the evening is thought of, unless one should take refuge in some far-fetched supposition. The Psalmist, in Psalms 59:7, casts a glance back on the malice of his enemies, only in order to give opportunity for exercising hope in God, that it may break forth the more vigorously. The consideration of the need is only a preliminary step to him, on which he can raise himself to the contemplation of the helper for the time of need. Behold, they belch, &c. is in meaning, q. d. let them belch, &c., thou, O Lord, mockest them. On הביע , to make, to belch forth, comp. on Psalms 19:12. What they belch or bubble forth, is not expressly mentioned here, as it is in Proverbs 15:2, Proverbs 15:28, comp. Psalms 94:4. It may be easily understood from the character of the persons; according to that, we can only think of a torrent of lies and calumnies, which instrumentally serve the purpose of their actual persecution. Arnd: “Just as smoke proceeds from the fire, so do lies and slanders from open persecutions.” The verb retains its common meaning. The Psalmist says only, that there was an entire flood of what they bring forth. On the expression: swords are on their lips, Calvin: “they vomit forth as many swords for the murder of the poor as they utter words.” Arnd: “Just as a naked sword inflicts wounds, so do such lies and calumnies cut in pieces upright hearts,” comp. Psalms 55:21, “his words are smoother than oil, and they are drawn swords,” Psalms 52:2, “upon evil thinks thy tongue, as a sharp razor, thou worker of deceit,” Psalms 57:4, “whose tongue a sharp sword.” These parallel passages especially preclude us from thinking of insults, and oblige us to understand only false charges and calumnies. This trait is only applicable to internal enemies; heathenish ones wield not the sword of the word. Who hears? is commonly regarded as a speech of the wicked: for, say they, who hears and judges. “God certainly hears it not, he will neither hear, nor punish,” (Arnd,) comp. a similar speech of the wicked in Psalms 10:11, Psalms 10:13. But we can also conveniently take the words as a sad lamentation of the Psalmist, that God through his past inaction, had strengthened the wicked in their wickedness, comp. a similar lamentation in Psalms 10:5. Hitherto God had actually not heard, comp. the see in Psalms 59:4. The malice of the enemies does not distress the Psalmist, it only leads him to raise his mind with the loftier elevation to God, and since he sees God laugh at them, he will also treat them as a mockery, Psalms 59:8. On the expression: thou laughest, comp. Psalms 2:4, “he who is throned in heaven laughs, the Lord holds them in derision,” Psalms 37:13. Thou mockest all the heathen, q. d. how shouldest thou not mock them, how should it not be a light thing for thee, to annihilate all their malicious projects, since all the heathen, with their far greater might, can do nothing against thee, comp. Psalms 59:5. In Psalms 59:9 the suffix in עזו refers to the strong, עזים , in Psalms 59:3. The singular goes, as so often happens, upon the ideal person of the wicked. Since in the other Psalms of the Sauline period, the singular constantly interchanges with the plural, it can only be regarded as purely accidental, that in this Psalm the enemy is nowhere else mentioned in the singular. The אליךָ? , to thee, so that thou keepest it, and in reference to it doest what is necessary. שמר , to keep, to secure, as in Exodus 22:6, and here in the supers. The Psalmist, conscious of his own impotence, will have nothing to do himself with the strength of his enemies; he rolls it wholly upon God, who will already know what he has to make of it. The expression: his strength, is here used in a thoughtful reference to “thy power” in Psalms 59:16, my strength in Psalms 59:17, similar to that between: his countenance, in Psalms 42:5, and my countenance, in Psalms 59:11: the enemies’ strength he delivers over to the Lord, he celebrates God’s strength, and for his own strength he gives thanks to him. This designed reference is destroyed, if we read with many here עזי : my defence, upon whom I wait, (Ew.) Psalms 59:17 speaks against, not for this change; for deviations do occur in the reiterations, comp. on Psalms 42:5, and עזי would, if it had been original, have been preserved by Psalms 59:17; nowhere should we hesitate more in changing the reading, than precisely where the reiterating verses deviate from each other. Those, who abide by the common text, usually expound: what concerns their strength, I have thee in my eye. But עזי would then probably have stood by itself; that it is the accusative, which is governed by the verb, appears from the analogy between Psalms 59:16 and Psalms 59:17. In the first member of Psalms 59:10, the reading of the text should be אֱ ל י הֵ סְ דוֹ? . Where the distinction stood merely in the vowels, as here in the אלהי , there the Masorites wrote no Kri on the margin, but where, as here, the context of itself led to the conclusion, that the vowels could not belong to the reading of the text, they gave to the Chetib exactly the vowels of the Kri, or, where that was not the case, they gave to the word a double punctuation, comp. on Psalms 7:6. We can either expound: my God, his favour will surprise me, comp. Psalms 79:8; or: my God will with his favour surprise me, comp. Psalms 21:3, where the קדם occurs with a double accus. The latter mode is recommended by the parallel. That of the Masorites: my favour-God, is a bad conjecture from Psalms 59:17. On the second member, comp. Ps. 54:8, Psalms 54:6, where all the words have already occurred. Calvin: “The sum is, whensoever God may withhold, or delay his aid, he will be present at the critical moment.”

Verses 11-13

There follows now the second main division, first the prayer, in Psalms 59:11-13. Ver. 11. Slay them not, lest my people forget, make them wander up and down through thy power, and overthrow them, thou our shield, O God. Ver. 12. Sin of their mouth is the word of their lips, and let them be taken through their pride, and on account of the cursing and lies, which they speak. Ver. 13. Consume in anger, consume, that they may be no more, and that it may be known that God is ruler in Jacob, even to the ends of the earth. That the: slay them not, in Psalms 59:11, refers not to the individuals hostile to the Psalmist, as such, but to their race, appears from Psalms 59:13, where he seeks for the same persons their destruction, as constantly, indeed, in the Psalms belonging to the Sauline period. The enemies must serve for monuments of the divine righteousness, not less in the abiding wretchedness of their race, than by their own sudden destruction. Parallel to this verse, and to Psalms 59:6, Psalms 59:14, is the curse which David utters upon Joab, in 2 Samuel 3:29, “let there never fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue, and a leper, and that leaneth on a staff, and that lacketh bread;” then, the threatening of the man of God to Eli, in 1 Samuel 2:36, where, after announcing the violent death of the evil-doers themselves, corresponding to Psalms 59:13 here, it is said, “and it shall come to pass, that whosoever is left of thy house will come, and crouch to him, (the new high-priest), for a piece of silver and a bit of bread, and will say: Put me, I pray thee, in something of the priesthood, that I may eat a piece of bread.” The Christian exposition of this verse has all along drawn attention to the fact, that the substance of our verse, as that also of Psalms 59:6, Psalms 59:14, has gone into fulfilment on the Jews. “They have been scattered into all lands, and must go and stand before the eyes of all Christians, as a living witness, that they have crucified the true Messiah and Saviour of the world. So that if you see a Jew, think on this word,” (Arnd.) The Psalmist calls all Israel his people; so the expression: my people, often occurs, for ex. Judges 14:3, Psalms 14:4. Many think without reason exclusively of the righteous seed; the ungodly needed the warning example of the divine punitive righteousness still more than they. On the expression: let them wander about, comp. the divine judgment on Cain in Genesis 4:12, Numbers 32:13, “Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he caused them to wander in the wilderness forty years,” and Psalms 109:10, “Let his children be continually vagabonds and beg.” On the: through thy power, (falsely Hitzig: through thy host,) “David invokes God’s power for the destruction of the wicked, because they, trusting in their earthly power, thought themselves invincible;” comp.: they gather themselves together against me strong, in Psalms 59:3. On the: overthrow them, prop. make them come down, Calvin: “He wills that they should be thrown down from their honourable position, be cast, as it were, before one’s feet, so that they may afford in their misery and disgrace a standing spectacle of the divine indignation.” The designation of God as the shield of the righteous, is of frequent use in the mouth of David, comp. Psalms 3:3, Psalms 18:2, Psalms 28:7. By saying “ our shield,” he indicates that his cause is that of the whole church, comp. in Psalms 59:5: thou God of Israel. David was the bearer and representative of the good principle, and this was endangered in him. Saul’s victory would have opened a deep wound in the kingdom of God.

The words: Sin of their mouths is the word of their lips, in Psalms 59:12, are q. d. they sin, as often as they but speak. That the wish of their destruction is to be supplied here, which the simple representation of the matter-of-fact includes in itself, is evident from the second member. The ב in בגאום is explained by the following מן . The pride must be viewed as the cause of their destruction in so far as it served to draw down upon them the divine vengeance. Pride was manifestly the root of Saul’s hatred to David; the more he was devoid of true greatness, the more insupportable to him was the thought of true greatness beside him, it filled him with rage, and he would, at whatever expense, have it driven out of the world; comp. the account of the first origin of Saul’s enmity to David, in 1 Samuel 18:8, and 1 Samuel 19:8, ss. The curse is connected in Psalms 10:7, as here, with lying and deceit. There are curses which the wicked pronounces upon himself, so that his deceit prospers with him, his lie finds currency. Saul protested loudly and vehemently, that David sought occasion against his life. Before יספרו the relative is to be supplied. The word is used in its common sig.: they tell under solemn protestations lies for truth. That the entire verse is unsuitable to heathen armies, is clear as day, comp. Psalms 5:9.

In Psalms 59:13, the first words of which are seen reflected in the fate of the Jews, when they were “mercilessly extirpated at the destruction of Jerusalem,” not less than in Psalms 59:6 and Psalms 59:13, but the immediate fulfilment of which is exhibited in the signal overthrow of Saul, we must connect: that it may be known to the ends of the earth, that God is ruler in Jacob, not that God is ruler in Jacob to the ends of the earth, against which already the accents speak, and in which case also an and should have been prefixed before unto. Calvin: “David indicates an extraordinary kind of punishment, the report of which would reach to the most distant people, and force even on blind and profane men the fear of God.” It is characteristic of David that he everywhere thinks also of the heathen as interested in that which God did among the Israelites, for ex. Psalms 18:49, Psalms 57:5, Psalms 57:9, Psalms 57:11. In remarkable agreement with our passage David says to Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:46, “And all the earth shall know, that the God of Israel is God.” On the expression: that God is ruler in Jacob, it is justly remarked by expositors: not Saul or any other person whatever. From this contrast we are to explain the position of the general name of God.

Verses 14-17

The Psalm closes in Psalms 59:14-17 with the second hope-strophe, in which, as the result of the whole, the destruction of the enemies, and the Psalmist’s rejoicing at his own deliverance, are represented. Ver. 14. Yea, they shall return back at even, make a noise like a dog, and run through the city. Ver. 15. They shall wander about for food, although they shall not be satisfied, so shall they stay over night. Ver. 16. But I will sing of thy strength, and praise thy favour in the morning, for thou wert my fortress and my refuge in the time of my necessity. Ver. 17. My strength will I sing to thee; for God is my fortress, my gracious God.

Psalms 59:14 is a resumption of Psalms 59:6, Psalms 59:15 serves only for expansion and colouring. Instead of the fut. in Kal ינועון , the Masorites would read the fut. in Hiph., merely because in Psalms 59:11 the Hiph. is used, and without any tolerable sense. The אם is found not rarely where we put “although,” Ges. Thes. Ew. § 625. So they stay over night, so must it still happen to them, that the night overtakes them in this condition. Hence it is the image of a wretched existence in hunger and pain.

The: in the morning, Psalms 59:16, stands in obvious reference to the expression in Psalms 59:6 and Psalms 59:14 in the morning, and on that account alone we must not think of the besides ungrammatical exposition: every morning. The morning is not uncommonly mentioned in connection with salvation, comp. for example, Psalms 90:14, Psalms 92:2, Psalms 144:8, because it presents an image of that, comp. 2 Samuel 23:4, where David thus describes the salvation of the future, “and as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth; a morning without clouds.” Job 11:17, “Now art thou dark, then shalt thou be as the morning.” The fancy, occupied with images of future prosperity, will dwell with special delight on the morning, and conceive of this as the time of an uninterrupted prosperity. To the enemies the Psalmist assigns the evening and the night, because their lot is a matter of darkness, but he himself sings praise to God in the morning, because his lot is a morning. רנן with the accus. as in Psalms 51:14. On משגב here, and in Psalms 59:9, comp. Psalms 17:2. In reference to צר , distress, necessity, see on Psalms 18:6. In Psalms 59:17, the words: my strength will I sing to thee, q. d. I will praise thee in a song as the author of my strength, which thou hast imparted to me, after thou hast thrown down the strength of my enemy. The Psalmist alludes to what is said in Psalms 59:9: his strength will I preserve for thee. Just as he had laid aside the strength of his enemy for the Lord, so will he now also not keep for himself, but righteously attribute to its real author his own strength (which he already possesses in faith after having received the assurance of being heard—comp. the: thou wert in Psalms 59:16.) At the same time, the words refer to that in Psalms 59:16: I will sing of thy strength. The common construction is inadmissible, which takes: my strength, as an address to God. For זמר is never connected with אל , always with ל . That the unusual construction has been called for by Psalms 59:9, we are not warranted in saying; for there the construction is just as unusual according to the common view.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 59". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.