Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Psalms 59

Verse 1

Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: defend me from them that rise up against me.

Psalms 59:1-17.-Two divisions. Prayer for the overthrow of the wicked and the deliverance of the Psalmist (Psalms 59:1-5 and Psalms 59:11-13); separated in each division by a "Selah," from confident hope resting on the prayer (Psalms 59:6-10 and Psalms 59:14-17). The same simile begins the second strophe of the first division and the section strophe of the second division, Psalms 59:6 and Psalms 59:14; marking their mutual relation.

On the title, Al-taschith, see note on title of Psalms 57:1-11. When Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him - (1 Samuel 19:11, etc.) David, escaped through the warning of Michal, David's wife, who let David down through a window, so that he escaped, and put an image and a goats hair bolster in the bed, where she said that David lay sick. This was the beginning act in his long wanderings to escape from Saul, and therefore formed a fit subject for a psalm.

Deliver me ... defend me from them that rise up against me - (Psalms 17:7, end) "Defend" - Hebrew, tªsagbeeniy (H7682); set me on high (margin, Psalms 20:1).

Verse 2

Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men.

And save me from bloody men - such as Saul, who seeks to shed my life-blood.

Verse 3

For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul: the mighty are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O LORD.

For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul - (1 Samuel 19:11.)

The mighty - `the strong;' the same Hebrew as in Psalms 59:9; Psalms 59:17.

Are gathered against me. So in David's Psalms 56:6.

Not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O Lord. He appeals to the all-knowing Yahweh (H3068) to establish his innocence, since the earthly king will not believe his protestations. Compare 1 Samuel 24:11. The transgression which he denies is in relation to the king: the sin which he denies is in relation to God; not that he denies absolutely his sinfulness-nay, elsewhere he unequivocally confesses it; but he denies the sinfulness before God of which he was accused in respect to Saul. Compare Psalms 7:3-5.

Verse 4

They run and prepare themselves without my fault: awake to help me, and behold. They run and prepare themselves without my fault - "They run" as armed warriors rushing to the assault (Psalms 18:29). The Hebrew for "prepare themselves" [ kuwn (H3559)] means also 'they establish themselves;' they make firm their footing, like forces assailing a city (Job 30:14).

Awake to help me - literally, 'to meet me' with help "Awake," as though God had been asleep in regard to the Psalmist's safety (Psalms 44:23).

And behold - their wicked violence and my great danger.

Verse 5

Thou therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen: be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah.

Thou therefore, O Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel. These names of God are so many pleas for obtaining the divine help. LORD or YAHWEH (H3068), is the most profound and far-reaching of the divine names. God, or 'Elohiym (H430), implies His is Deity and His being the Creator. The epithet "of hosts" ( tsªbaa'owt (H6635)) implies the boundless resources which He has at command for His people's good. Then this glorious God is "the God of Israel." He has the people of His covenant under His special protection. The same plea implied in the designation "the God of Israel" is expressed in Psalms 59:13 - "let them know that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth." Compare Jeremiah 35:17; Jeremiah 38:17, which derive this accumulation of names from the passage here. Compare David's words, 2 Samuel 7:27.

Awake to visit all the heathen. The primary objects of the judgment the judgment prayed for are not "the pagan," but the wicked transgressors, or 'men of perfidy' [ bogªdeey (H898)] (Psalms 59:3; Psalms 25:3). But since God, as the Judge of all the earth, is about to visit in judgment all the pagan, much more will He judge those in Israel who perfidiously transgress against the law of brotherly love, and justice (Psalms 25:3). The thought that God's judgment extends to "all the pagan" assures the believer that he need not be frightened by the number of his adversaries, who, after all, are but few compared with the hosts of heaven. There is an ulterior reference to the final retribution which shall visit "all the pagan," or rather 'the nations' leagued; with Antichrist against Messiah and His people.

Verse 6

They return at evening: they make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city.

They return at evening: they make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city. Here hopeful anticipation succeeds to prayer. David's enemies in character resembled unclean dogs attacking him (Psalms 22:16-20); therefore their portion, he foresees, shall be that of dogs, which in Eastern cities wander up and down without any owner, half starved and ravenous, ready to eat offal or any filthy food, for lack of sustenance. The prayer that this may be their punishment, in order to accord with their sin, follows in similar words in Psalms 59:14, 'they return at evening,' after having throughout the day in vain sought for food: "they make a noise" or howl through hunger, "and go round about the city" seeking food (Psalms 59:15).

Verse 7

Behold, they belch out with their mouth: swords are in their lips: for who, say they, doth hear?

Behold, they belch out with their mouth - a torrent of false charges and calumnies (Psalms 94:4).

Swords are in their lips - (Psalms 55:21, end.)

For who, (say they), doth hear? - (Psalms 10:11-13; Psalms 73:11.) Heretofore God's long-suffering with them gave a handle to his cavil, instead of leading them as His mercy designed, to repentance.

Verse 8

But thou, O LORD, shalt laugh at them; thou shalt have all the heathen in derision.

But thou, O Lord, shalt laugh at them - (Psalms 2:4.)

Thou shalt have all the heathen in derision - (cf. note, Psalms 59:5.)

Verse 9

Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defence.

Because of his strength will I wait upon thee - literally, 'I will keep watch to thee,' alluding to the title, "when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him." David sets his watching before God against their watching to kill, him. "His strength" - that of "the mighty" enemy (Psalms 59:3). The singular alludes to Saul as representative of the wicked, who are spoken of in the previous verses. Our needs, and the strength of our enemy, are our plea for calling to our side 'God's strength (Psalms 59:17). The old versions read, 'my strength' [ `uziy (H5797)], instead of "his strength" [ `uzow (H5795)]. The latter being the more difficult reading, is less likely to be an interpolation. Thus, too "O my strength", God (Psalms 59:17), forms a beautiful opposition to "his (the enemy's) strength" here. Slight changes are usually made in repetitions (cf. Psalms 42:5; Psalms 42:11). That Ps "his (the enemy's) strength" here. Slight changes are usually made in repetitions (cf. Psalms 42:5; Psalms 42:11). That Psalms 59:17 alludes to Psalms 59:9 appears from the repetition of.

For God is my defense - literally, 'my high place' ( misgabiy (H4869), corresponding to saagab (H7682), 'set me on high'-English version, defend - Psalms 59:1). Hengstenberg translates 'his (the enemy's) strength I will reserve to God,' being unable to cope with it myself. But thus the allusion to the same Hebrew in the title would be lost. Compare also Psalms 130:6 [ shaamar (H8104)]. The Hebrew implies careful keeping and watching, so as not to lose (Ecclesiastes 3:6).

Verse 10

The God of my mercy shall prevent me: God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies.

The God of my mercy. So the Qeri' reads, but the Khethibh has 'My God shall prevent me with His mercy,'-literally, 'shall anticipate in giving me His grace' (Psalms 21:3). The Qeri' was copied from Psalms 59:17, end.

God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies - (Psalms 54:7, end.)

Verse 11

Slay them not, lest my people forget: scatter them by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield.

Slay them not, lest my people forget - Slay not the race, while thou consumest (Psalms 59:13) the individuals hostile to the Lord's anointed. Let the race survive as a lasting monument of God's righteous judgments on transgressors (1 Samuel 2:36; 2 Samuel 3:29). Such has been the doom of the Jewish nation for their rejection of Messiah. While hundreds of thousands have been destroyed, the race has been kept from extinction as a monument of the wrath of God. "My people" are the professing people of God, who are warned by the fate of Israel (Romans 11:20-21) of the fatal effects of unbelief.

Scatter them by thy power. The Jews, scattered in all lands, are the living witnesses to God's power and punitive justice, like their prototype Cain, 'fugitives and vagabonds in the earth,' bearing the brand of the murder of the Holy One wheresoever they go (Genesis 4:12-15), Compare Psalms 109:10-15. "Thy power" stands in contrast to the power of the godless enemies who thought themselves invincible. "Scatter them " stands in contrast to their having "gathered" themselves together against the Psalmist (Psalms 59:3).

Bring them down - from their high place of pride, arising out of prosperity.

O Lord our shield. Our implies that David's cause is that of the whole Church. Hence, in Psalms 59:5 he calls upon the God of Israel. The cause of righteousness was at stake in his person, and would have suffered injury if Saul had prevailed.

Verse 12

For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their pride: and for cursing and lying which they speak.

(For) the sin of their mouth (and) the words of their lips let them even be taken in their pride. So Muis. But Hengstenberg, 'The word of their lips (is) the sin of their mouth.' As many as their words are, so many are their sins. I prefer the English version. For their threats, calumnies, and blasphemies, let them be entangled inextricably in the net of their own pride as their punishment. Saul's pride would not brook that David's exploits should be spoken of as above his; hence, began his bitter enmity against David, which proved his own ruin (1 Samuel 18:8; 1 Samuel 19:8-10).

And for cursing. Cursing recoils on the curser.

And lying - such as Saul's charge against David; that the latter sought his life. Compare Psalms 5:9; Psalms 10:7.

Which they speak - literally, narrate.

Verse 13

Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be: and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth. Selah.

Consume them in wrath. Such was Saul's fate, and such that of the Jews who opposed David's antitype, Messiah. Such shall be the doom of Antichrist's followers in the last days.

And let them know that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth. The Hebrew accents require the sense, 'let them know unto the ends of the earth that God ruleth in Jacob.' So David said in his conflict with Goliath (1 Samuel 17:4-6, end). So in the punishment of Antichrist's hosts the recognition of God's rule in Israel shall be forced on the world (Isaiah 66:15-18; Isaiah 66:23-24).

Verses 14-17

And at evening let them return; and let them make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city. -Second part of the second division. David's anticipation of the enemy's doom, and of his own joyful thanksgivings, because of the previous prayer:

Verse 14,15. And at evening let them return; and let them make a noise like a dog ... let them wander up and down for meat, and grudge if they be not satisfied. What was an assertion in Psalms 59:6 appears here as a sentence of doom, "let them," etc. Their sin was restless greediness and insatiable cruelty, whereby they came tumultuously besieging David's house "at evening" (1 Samuel 19:11); so let their punishment be to "wander up and down." In hell men's restless passions shall be their never-resting scourges (Revelation 14:11). The Hebrew for, "grudge" ( wayaaliynuw (H3885)) is better translated thus, 'when they have not been satisfied, then let them stay all the night,' or, 'certainly [so often, 'im (H518)] let them not satisfied, and let them pass all night so.' In contrast to "the morning (Psalms 59:16), which is associated with salvation (Psalms 90:14; Psalms 143:8; 2 Samuel 23:4), stands 'to pass the night' overtaken by the darkness of misery, hungering without aught to allay the hunger-pang. Compare also Psalms 59:6-14, "They return at evening."

Verse 16. But I will sing of thy power; yea ... thy mercy in the morning. As the darkness of night belongs to the ungodly, so the light of morning to the godly (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5).

In the day of my trouble - literally, 'my straitness.'

Verse 17. Unto thee, O my strength - in opposition to the enemy's "strength" (Psalms 59:9). "Thy power," or "strength" - the Hebrew is the same (Psalms 59:16) - is "my strength." There is an elegant play on similar sounds in the Hebrew for 'I will wait upon thee' - 'ªzameeraah (H2167) (Psalms 59:9), and "I will sing" - 'eshmoraah (H8104). 'As on account of Saul's strength my watching was directed to thee, so now, on account of thy strength vouchsafed to me, my singing of praises also shall be directed to thee alone (Gejer).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 59". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.