Bible Commentaries
Psalms 59

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2946. B.C. 1058.

“The title,” says Bishop Patrick, “sufficiently informs us of the occasion of this Psalm, wherein David expresses what his thoughts and feelings were when Saul sent officers to watch his house all night, and to slay him when he should come out of his doors in the morning.” See 1 Samuel 19:11-18 . He prays to God to be delivered from the power of his cruel enemies, whose indefatigable malice he describes, Psalms 59:1-7 . Predicts his own enlargement, through the tender mercy and mighty power of God, Psalms 59:8 , Psalms 59:9 . Also the singular vengeance to be poured upon his enemies, for their punishment and the admonition of others, Psalms 59:11-15 . Of which he gives God the glory, Psalms 59:16 , Psalms 59:17 .

Verse 1

Psalms 59:1. Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God Thou art God, and canst deliver me; my God, under whose protection I have put myself; and thou hast promised me to be a God all-sufficient, and therefore in honour and faithfulness thou wilt deliver me. He chiefly means Saul by his enemies; but speaks in the plural number, out of reverence to his king, and that he might, as far as he could with truth, lay the blame of these odious practices on those that were about him.

Verse 3

Psalms 59:3. They lie in wait for my soul For my life, to take it away. The mighty are gathered against me They are all mighty, men of honour and estates, and interest in the court and country. They are in a confederacy, united by a league; and actually gathered together against me; combined both in consultation and action. Not for my transgression, nor for my sin Without any provocation or cause given by me. I am a sinner before thee, O Lord, but I have done them no injury. It was a noble vindication of David’s innocence, in that he could, in the most private retirement, and upon the most serious and deliberate reflection, thus solemnly appeal to God, that he was not chargeable with the least perfidy, wickedness, or crime, which could excite the hatred of his enemies, and give occasion to Saul to pursue him with such eagerness and malice, to his destruction.

Verse 4

Psalms 59:4. They run To and fro, first to receive Saul’s commands, and then to execute them with all diligence; and prepare themselves With the utmost speed and fury, to do me a mischief; or, they dispose themselves, as יכוננו , jeconanu, may be properly rendered. They place themselves here and there about my house, that they may catch me when I go out of it. Awake to my help Hebrew, לקראתי , likraati, to meet me, as I come abroad, and to conduct me away with safety. And behold With an eye of pity; take cognizance of my case, and exert thy power for my relief.

Verse 5

Psalms 59:5. O Lord, &c., the God of Israel In covenant with all true Israelites, whom thou promisest to protect and bless. Awake to visit all the heathen Or, these heathen, who, though they are Israelites by birth, yet in truth, and in their dispositions and manners, are mere heathen. Be not merciful Hebrew, אל תחן , al tachon, Thou wilt not be merciful, that is, Thou canst not with honour, nor according to thy word, be merciful, to any wicked transgressors Hebrew, כל בגדי און , cal bogedee aven, perfidious transgressors, or, more literally, prevaricators of wickedness; that is, such as are guilty of great treachery and perfidiousness, meaning such as, with pretences of friendship, persecuted him and other good men, out of malice, and against their own consciences. But neither can God, in consistency with the perfections of his nature, and the truths of his word, show mercy to any incorrigible offenders.

Verses 6-7

Psalms 59:6-7. They return at evening Saul sent once to destroy him, and the messengers went back to inform him that he was ill; but they returned in the evening to bring him even in his bed. They make a noise like a dog The Hebrew יהמו , jehemu, signifies the confused hum and noise of an assembled crowd. “The psalmist here compares the muttered threats of his enemies to the growlings or snarlings of a dog, ready to bite and tear any person; and the comparison is just and natural.” Dodd. And go round about the city When they did not find him in his own house, they sought for him in other parts of the city. They belch out with their mouths Hebrew, יביעון , jabignun, they pour forth, namely, words, even sharp and bitter words, as the next clause explains it, such as threatenings, calumnies, and imprecations, and that abundantly and vehemently, as a fountain doth waters, as the word signifies. Swords are in their lips Their expressions are as keen and mischievous as swords; their threats and reproaches are cruel and deadly. For who, they say, doth hear? David doth not hear us, and God either does not hear, or not regard what we say. They vented their calumnies more freely and dangerously, because privately; so that none could refute them.

Verses 8-9

Psalms 59:8-9 . But thou, O Lord, shalt laugh at them Shalt disappoint their high confidence and hopeful designs, and then deride them, and make them ridiculous and contemptible to others. Because of his strength That is, Saul’s strength, because he is too strong for me: or, as to his strength; will I wait on thee Hebrew, אליךְ אשׁמרה , eeleicha eshmorah, I will observe, or look, to thee. “Saul’s soldiers give me no concern; mine eyes are toward thee;” for God is my defence Hebrew, משׁגבי , mishgabbi, my high place, my refuge.

Verse 10

Psalms 59:10. The God of my mercy The giver of all that mercy and comfort which I have or hope for; shall prevent me With the blessings of his goodness, Psalms 21:3. Thou shalt help me seasonably, before it be too late, and sooner than I expect. God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies Namely, 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. Dr. Waterland renders the clause, God shall make me look upon mine enemies. “The word rendered enemies,” שׁוררי , shorerai, “properly signifies insidious men, who craftily observed and lay in wait for him. David says, God will cause me to see them, or, see among them; that is, to discover their plots and contrivances to ruin me, that they may not prove fatal to me; or to see them fall by the destruction which they intend me.”

Verse 11

Psalms 59:11. Slay them not Hebrew, אל תהרגם , al tahargeem, Thou wilt not slay them, namely, suddenly, or at once; lest my people My countrymen, those over whom thou hast appointed me to be governor in due time; forget Their former danger, thy glorious mercy in delivering them, and their own duty to thee for it. Hereby it plainly appears that David, in his prayers against, and predictions concerning his enemies, was not moved by 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 by thy power הניעמו , hanigneemo, Make them to wander. As they have wandered about the city and country to do me mischief, so let their punishment be agreeable to their sin; let them wander from place to place 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. And bring them down From that power and dignity in which thou hadst set them, which they so wickedly abused; and from the height of their carnal hopes of success against me.

Verse 12

Psalms 59:12 . For the sin of their mouth, &c. For their ungodly, injurious, and pernicious speeches, of which he spoke Psalms 59:7. Let them even be taken Hebrew, וילכדו , vejillachedu, they shall be taken as in a snare, namely, in order to their ruin; in their pride For their proud and insolent speeches against thee; and for cursing and lying For their execrations, and lying reports, which they have raised or spread abroad; which they speak Which they are ready to utter upon all occasions.

Verse 13

Psalms 59:13. Consume them in wrath By degrees, and after thou hast made them to wander about, Psalms 59:11. That they may not be Namely, any more in the land of the living; and 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 shall be ordered among us, not as Saul pleases, but as God pleases; and therefore I shall be preserved, and at the proper time crowned, in spite of all that Saul or his forces can do against me. In Jacob unto the ends of the earth In the land, and over the people of Israel, whose king and governor he is in a peculiar manner, and throughout the world. The sense is, that by those eminent and extraordinary discoveries of thy power, wisdom, and justice, it may be evident, both to them, and to all that hear of it, that thou art no inferior or local deity, like the gods of the heathen, but the high and mighty Jehovah, the Creator, Upholder, Governor, and Judge of the whole world.

Verses 14-15

Psalms 59:14-15. And at evening let them return, &c. This is a repetition of the sixth verse, but is to be understood in a different sense. The sixth verse is a real complaint of their fury and diligence in pursuing him; here he speaks of them with a kind of indifference and contempt; and as free from any apprehension of danger from them. “Let them, if they please, return in the evening, growl at me like dogs, and watch all the avenues of the city, to take me; yet, like greedy dogs, they shall want their food, and wander about, as those shivering for hunger; for they shall not be satisfied, but murmur on account of their disappointment.” The Hebrew verbs of these verses are in the future tense, and ought to have been rendered, “They shall return, &c. They shall make a noise, and go round about the city. They shall wander about, shivering for hunger, and, because not satisfied, they shall murmur.” Chandler and Houbigant.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 59". Benson's Commentary. 1857.