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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Psalms 59



The matter and design of this Psalm is the same in general and for substance with the former, to wit, a declaration of the cruelty and treachery of his enemies; and a prayer to God to deliver him out of their hands.

David, in danger, prayeth unto God for deliverance from his enemies, Psalms 59:1,Psalms 59:2, relating his own innocency and their cruelty, Psalms 59:3. He trusteth in God, and prayeth against them, Psalms 59:4-15; promiseth thankfulness to God for being his defence and refuge, Psalms 59:16,Psalms 59:17.

Verse 1

He chiefly understands Saul, but speaks in the plural number, out of, reverence to his king, and that he might, as far as he could in truth, derive the envy and hatred of these odious practices upon those that were about him; as he doth 1 Samuel 26:19, and elsewhere.

Verse 3

Without any provocation or cause given them by me. I am a sinner before thee, O Lord, but I have done them no injury.

Verse 4

They run to and fro, first to receive Saul’s commands and then to execute them with all speed and diligence.

Prepare themselves; or, dispose themselves, here and there round about my house, that they may catch me when I go out of it.

To help me, Heb. to meet me, as I come abroad and to conduct me away with safety.

Verse 5

The God of Israel; a God in covenant with all true Israelites, whom thou hast promised to protect and bless. The heathen; or, these heathens, or Gentiles; who though they are called and accounted Israelites by their birth, yet in truth, and in their dispositions and manners, are mere heathens and barbarians; in which respect such men are elsewhere called strangers, Psalms 54:3, men of Sodom and Gomorrah, Isaiah 1:10, and as Ethiopians, Amos 9:7; as among us ungodly Christians are oft called Jews, or Turks or heathens.

Be not merciful; for indeed thou canst not with thine honour, nor according to thy word, be merciful to any such incorrigible offenders.

Wicked transgressors; or, perfidious transgressors; such as persecute me, and other good men, out of malice, and against their own consciences, which tell them that I am innocent, and with pretences of friendship. He might well pray so vehemently against such, not only for his own preservation, but for the just and necessary vindication of God’s honour, and for the public good of mankind, whose common interest it was that such vile miscreants should be taken out of the way.

Verse 6

They return at evening, after they have been busy all day, either in plotting against me, or in hunting after me. In the evening, when they should compose themselves to rest, they return to their old trade of watching for me which they did at this time all the night long, 1 Samuel 19:11.

They make a noise like a dog; either when he is hungry and pursuing his prey, and howls for meat; or when he is enraged, and grins and snarls where he cannot or dare not bite. And go round about the city: when they did not find him in his own house, they sought for him in other houses and parts of the city, where they supposed him to lurk.

Verse 7

They belch out; or, they pour forth, (to wit, words, for what else should come out of the mouth? even sharp and bitter words, as the next clause explains it,) abundantly and vehemently, as a fountain doth waters, as this word signifies. See Proverbs 15:28; Jeremiah 6:7.

Swords, i.e. words as keen and mischievous as swords, as Psalms 55:21; Psalms 57:4.

Who, say they, doth hear? David doth not hear us, either to discover, and so to prevent our plots; Or to punish us for them; and God either doth not hear or not regard what we say and do against David; and therefore we may speak and act what we think fit.

Verse 8

Disappoint their high confidences and hopeful designs, and then deride them, and make them ridiculous and contemptible to others.

Verse 9

His strength, i.e. Saul’s strength; because he is too strong for me. Or rather, O my strength, as it is Psalms 59:17. And all those ancient and venerable translators, the LXX., and Chaldee, and vulgar Latin, render it my strength. In the Hebrew it is his strength, i.e. David’s. For David speaks of himself in the third person, as he oft doth. And such sudden changes of persons are usual, both in these poetical books (as hath been noted before) and elsewhere, as Daniel 9:4; Micah 1:2.

Verse 10

The God of my mercy, i.e. the giver of all that mercy and comfort which I either have, or hope for. Heb. of his mercy. But here also there is (as appears by comparing this with Psalms 59:17) a change of the person, as there was in the foregoing verse.

Shall prevent me, to wit, with the blessings of goodness, as it is more fully expressed, Psalms 21:3. Thou shalt help me, and that seasonably, before it be too late, and sooner than I expect.

My desire in their disappointment and overthrow, as it follows; which was very desirable to David, no less for the public good, than for his own safety and happiness.

Verse 11

Slay them not, to wit, suddenly, or at once.

My people; my countrymen; or those over whom thou hast appointed me to be governor in due time. Forget their former danger, and thy glorious mercy in delivering them, and their own duty to thee for it. Hereby it most plainly appears that David, in these and the like imprecations against his enemies, was not moved thereunto by his private malice, or desire of revenge, but by the respect which he had to God’s honour and the general good of his people.

Scatter them, Heb. make them to wander. As they wandered about the city and country to do me mischief, Psalms 59:6, so let their punishment be agreeable to their sin; let them wander from place to place, to wit, for meat, as it is expressed, Psalms 59:15, that they may carry the tokens of thy justice and their own shame to all places where they come.

Bring them down from that power and dignity in which thou hast set them, which they do so wickedly abuse; and from the height of their carnal hopes and confidences of success against me.

Verse 12

For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lip; for their ungodly, and injurious, and pernicious speeches, of which he speaks Psalms 59:7, and in many other places.

Let them be taken, as in a snare, in order to their ruin. Let thy judgments overtake them. In their pride; for their proud and insolent speeches against thee, Psalms 59:7. For cursing and lying; for their execrations and lying reports, which they have raised or spread abroad concerning me. Which they speak; which they are ready to utter upon all occasions.

Verse 13

Consume them by degrees, and after thou hast made them to wander about, Psalms 59:11.

That they may not be, to wit, in the land of the living, any more; as this phrase is frequently understood, whereof divers instances have been given.

Let them know experimentally, and to their cost, that God ruleth over and above them; that though Saul be king, yet God is his superior in power and authority, and all things among us shall be disposed, not as it pleaseth Saul, which his parasites are always suggesting to him, but as God will; and therefore I shall be preserved, and in fit time crowned, in spite of all that Saul or his forces can do against me.

In Jacob; in the land and over the people of Israel, whose king and governor he is in a peculiar manner.

Unto; or, and into; the contraction and being oft understood, as hath been noted before. These words may be referred, either,

1. To God’s ruling; let them know that God ruleth, not only in Jacob, but also to the ends of the earth. Or,

2. To men’s knowing; let them, or let men, know, even to the ends of the earth, that God ruleth in Jacob; let thy judgments be so manifest and dreadful in the destruction of thy wicked enemies, that not only Israelites, but even the remote nations of the world, may see it, and acknowledge thy power and providence in it.

The ends of the earth; either of this land; or rather, of the world. The sense is, That by those eminent and extraordinary discoveries of thy power, and wisdom, and justice it may be evident, both to them and to all that hear of it, that thou art no puny, or inferior, or topical god, like the gods of heathens, whose government is confined to a narrow compass; but the high and mighty God, and the great Ruler of the whole world.

Verse 14

What was their sin and their choice to do with evil design, let it be their punishment to do it by constraint, and for meat, as it follows, Psalms 59:15.

Verse 15

Wander up and down for meat, to get a livelihood. And grudge if they be not satisfied: when their bodies are hungry, let their minds be discontented. Or, as others render the words, and lodge, or be forced to lodge, all night, when they are not satisfied. Let them go to their rest with an empty stomach.

Verse 17

Unto thee, i.e. to thy honour; or rather, of or concerning thee, as that particle is sometimes used.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 59". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.