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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 58

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book PsalmsScott on the Psalms

Verses 1-11

Psalms 59:1-17. Title. (Notes, 1 Samuel 19:11-18.) In this Psalm ’ David expresses what his thoughts and affections were, when Saul sent officers to watch his house all ’ night, and to slay him when he came out of his doors in ’ the morning.’ Bp. Patrick. His triumphant confidence in God in this extreme danger, and his anticipated fervour of gratitude, for the deliverance which he fully expected, shew a peculiarly pious and happy state of mind, in such trying circumstances.

V. 1, 2. (Marg.Ref.) Defend. (I) Or, "Thou shall " set me on high, &c." The clause is future, and implies the strongest assurance of safety, and advancement above all enemies, grounded on the special promises of God. (Notes, Psalms 12:5-6. Psalms 27:4-6. Psalms 91:14-16. Is. 33. 15, 16.)

V. 3, 4. David had not in any thing offended Saul, but was persecuted by him and his adherents, for his good deeds, not for his sins: and in this he typified the suffering, but perfectly holy Jesus. (Notes, Psalms 7:3-5. Psalms 27:1-3. 1 Samuel 18:12-16; 1 Samuel 19:1-7 - John 15:22-25.)

V. 5. Heathen.] nations, Gentiles. (Notes, 8. Psalms 10:16. Isaiah 1:10-15. Jeremiah 9:25-26. Amos 9:7-10.) Be not merciful, &c.] The Lord’s mercy and patience, towards the inveterate enemies of his cause, appeared to David ruinous to the interests of true religion in Israel : but the words are also a prediction of that judgment " without " mercy," which will be executed upon all the implacable opposers of Christ and his people. Those who repent cease to be " wicked transgressors," and " perfidious " workers of iniquity ; " none of the impenitent will find mercy : and as far as it can be ascertained, that this is the awful case of any persons, we are not required to pray for them ; nor forbidden to pray against them, that by the righteous judgment of God, they may be prevented from doing further mischief. (Marg. Ref, Notes, 1 Timothy 4:14-15. 1 John 5:16-18. Revelation 6:9-11.)

V. 6. David’s persecutors remitted their pursuit ot his life, during the day-time j but in the evening they returned to hunt their prey, with menaces and reproaches, as the hound makes a noise when upon the scent after the hunted animal : thus they compassed the city to prevent his escape. The Scribes and Pharisees also chose the night for the season of their machinations against the Son of David. (Notes, Matthew 27:1-2. John 18:1-3.)

V. 7. The reviling menaces and proud boastings, which were vented from the furious malice of these persecutors, wounded David’s peace and reputation like swords, and subserved their designs of murdering him : nor would they nave dared to utter such notorious falsehoods, if they had not disbelieved the being of a God, or their accountableness to him.

(Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 55:20-21; Psalms 57:4.)

V. 8. (Notes, Psalms 2:1-6.) In this Psalm, (Note, 5,) and in other places, the Israelites, who set themselves against the man " after God’s own heart," are called " the heathen : " and in like manner the Jews, when they had crucified the Son of David, and persisted in refusing to submit to him, were excluded from the church of God, and have ever since been treated as a part of the Gentile world ; except as marked with more striking indications of the divine displeasure. (Notes, Isaiah 65:13-15. Hosea 3:4-5.)

V. 9. The more strong and the more malicious Saul ’ is, the more will 1 look unto thee ; ... for thou, O God, ’ art my sure Refuge in my greatest distresses.’ Bp. Hall.

Some, however, suppose that the Psalmist, when he says, " Because of his strength," refers to the almighty power of God, as the ground of his cheerful confidence.

(Marg. Note, 1, 2.)

V. 10. God, who had always shewn mercy and loving kindness to his servant, would certainly come to his aid in this emergency, in some way beyond all human expectation ; so that when he seemed to stand afar off, he would shew himself present, to keep his enemies from hurting him. He would also exceed the hope ’of his friends; and even prevent him, by answering his prayers, while he was employed in offering them. (Is. Ixv. 24.) Thus God would cause David to look on his enemies without dismay, and to behold their disappointment. His conduct, when he heard of Saul’s death, implies, that he had not desired, though he had foreseen, the woeful day.

(Marg-. Ref. Note, Psalms 54:7.)

V. 11- 13. The rejection of the Jewish nation, their long continued dispersion, and their preservation as a distinct people, reminding men all over the earth of God’s vengeance on those who reject his gospel, and proudly despise and blaspheme his Son ; (while every successive generation allows the deeds of their fathers, by their enmity against Christianity ;) form such a striking accomplishment of this passage, that we must conclude the Holy Spirit intended these events in them : though it is probable that David meant the disgrace, degradation, and gradual extirpation of Saul’s family, for their opposition to the Lord’s Anointed, and all their imprecations and calumnies against him. Other obstinate opposers of genuine Christianity may also be intended. (Marg. Ref.) " They " shall be taken in their pride, &c." (12) "And they" (or, men) " shall know, unto the ends of the earth, that " God ruleth, &c." (13) Had the nation of Israel been wholly extirpated for their crimes, especially for crucifying their Messiah, and their obstinate and persevering opposition to him and his cause; or had they been incorporated with the Gentiles, among whom they were dispersed; the awful event would in time have been forgotten, and many important benefits to the cause of true religion prevented. But their continuance through successive ages, a separate people, scattered amidst all nations, has been, and is, a most important proof that Christianity is of God ; and will doubtless make way for still more surprising events, in their restoration, and the consequences of it to the world at large. (Notes, Numbers 23:9. Jeremiah 30:10-11. Hosea 3:4-5. Romans 11:11-15; Romans 11:22-32.)

V. 14, 15. These verses may mean, that the punishment of David’s persecutors would be answerable to their crimes : their clamours against him would be followed by howlings of distress, like those of the dog that is starving with hunger : they would in vain compass the city to find food, and would grudge all that went beside them. (Marg. Ref. Note, 6.) The extreme famine in Jerusalem, when besieged by the Romans ; and the state of the Jewish nation ever since, as destitute of the Bread of life, might be a alluded to. But some think, that David here again describes the conduct of his enemies, as foretelling and rejoicing in their disappointment; and that having repeated what he said before, adds what should be translated, " They " wander up and down to devour me : and if they be not " satisfied, they tarry all night." The words are throughout in the future tense, and may properly be thus rendered : " Surely they shall not be satisfied, though they " tarry all night." (.Marg.)

V. 16. In the morning.] (Note, title.) David was confident, that in the morning, when his enemies expected to devour him, he should in perfect safety be loudly singing the praises of God. (Marg. Ref.)

V. 17. Marg. Ref. Note, 1 Peter 5:10-11.


When we suffer for well-doing, we are conformed to our Redeemer, and have an evidence of our acceptance with God. We should indeed greatly fear suffering as " evil-doers, or busy-bodies in other men’s matters;" but we ought not to be either afraid or ashamed of the hatred of the workers of iniquity, when " they prepare them" selves, and are gathered together against us, without our " fault." (Notes, Matthew 5:10-12. 1 Peter 3:13-18; 1 Peter 4:12-16.) They may be both mighty and bloody; their words may be as swords, and their actions may correspond with them : but the Lord will awake, and behold, and hasten to the help of his servants. In vain did Saul and his mighty men seek the life of David : they could not prevent his advancement to the throne, but they occasioned their own ignominy and ruin. Nor could the rulers of the Jews, by crucifying Jesus, prevent his glorification ; but they thus hastened their own destruction: and neither

tempters nor persecutors can succeed any better, in lying in wait for the soul of the believer. The serpent and his seed bruised the heel of the Redeemer, but he will crush their head. (Note, Genesis 3:14-15.) " Because of the " LORD’S strength," his servants may then confidently wait on him : and if we trust in him, as the God of our mercy, and have recourse to him in every temptation and tribulation, he will assuredly be our Defence against all those who rise up against us. In proportion as we are conscious, that we are not " wicked transgressors," who continue impenitent in known sin, we may be satisfied that our cause is of God. The predictions, which we read, concerning the vengeance to be executed on all the implacable enemies of Christ and his kingdom, and upon all the impenitent and unbelieving ; and the accomplishment of many of them in this present world ; should impress our minds with an awe of the divine Majesty and purity, and with dread of all iniquity. The destruction of Jerusalem, and the state of the Jewish nation for much above seventeen hundred years, when viewed in connexion with that awful imprecation upon themselves and their children, which accompanied their malice and lying testimony against Christ, and with their cry, " Crucify him, crucify him ; " should make us tremble at the thought of lies and imprecations, which are the offspring of pride and hatred; (Notes, Matthew 27:19-25;) and still more, lest we should at last be found despisers or abusers of his gospel. But we should also pray for the conversion of that people ; that they may at length know, that Jesus is Lord and God, and that " he ruleth in Jacob, and unto the ends of the " earth." Our prayers, however, for our personal enemies and the opposers of our holy faith, should be attended with solemn warnings : for no mercy will be shewn to obstinate and impenitent transgressors; but they will be eternal monuments of the Lord’s abhorrence of sin, while his wrath will be unto them as a devouring, yet unquenchable fire. But the trials of the upright will terminate in joy and praise : when the night of affliction is over, they will sing of the Lord’s power and mercy in the morning. (Note, Psalms 30:5.) He is their Defence and Refuge in the time of their trouble : let them now, therefore, in assured faith and hope, praise him for those mercies, for which they will rejoice in him and praise him for evermore.

Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 58". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tsp/psalms-58.html. 1804.
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