New European Commentary


About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan

Deeper Commentary

Psa 59:1

For the Chief Musician. To the tune of Do Not Destroy. A poem by David, when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him-
As Saul "watched" or "kept" the house, David's response was to keep or watch over God's ways (:9 s.w.).

Deliver me from my enemies, my God; lift me on high from those who rise up against me-
"Redeem / deliver me..." is a quotation from Jacob's words when he found his relative Esau barring his path back home (Gen. 32:11,30). And the word is used of David's desire for deliverance from Saul (1 Sam. 26:24); and yet this was a redemption unappreciated by him as it ought to have been (2 Sam. 12:7). Finally David recognized that this prayer was answered (2 Sam. 22:18,49). As David had earlier prayed for redemption / deliverance from Saul and his enemies (Ps. 31:15; 59:1; 144:7), he would later pray for redemption / deliverance from his sins (Ps. 39:8; 79:9).

Psa 59:2

Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, save me from the bloodthirsty men-
Workers of iniquity" is a phrase used only in Job (Job 31:3; 34:8,22) and then by David (with Solomon later alluding to David's usage of the phrase). Apart from the law of Moses, Job was likely the only "scripture" David had access to; and so he often alludes to Job, seeing in him a parade example of innocent suffering. We too have been given scripture, which is largely a collection of biographies, in order to see that man is not alone in his apparently unique experiences; each are in essence passing through that which has already been experienced amongst God's people. 

Psa 59:3

For, behold, they lie in wait for my soul. The mighty gather themselves together against me- "Lie in wait" is the word for ambush. Solomon often uses the word, as if it is for him a major characteristic of sinners (Prov. 1:11,18; 7:12; 12:6; 23:28; 24:15). But it's a rather specific word to use so often. It's as if Solomon is consciously alluding to his father's experiences at the hands of the house of Saul (s.w. Ps. 10:9; 59:3), whom Solomon considered a threat to his own kingship. And so he seems to rather like using the term about sinners, as if using his wisdom to have a dig at his immediate opposition.

Not for my disobedience, nor for my sin, Yahweh-
Reading through the book of Psalms in one or two sittings reveals that frequent and intense self-examination was a leading characteristic of David:, especially while on the run from Saul; as if he began to pick up false guilt from how he was being treated, wondering if it was all in fact justified (Ps. 4:4; 7:3; 17:3; 18:20-24; 19:12; 26:1; 39:1; 59:3; 66:18; 77:6; 86:2; 101:2; 109:3; 139:23,24).


Psa 59:4

I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me. Rise up, behold, and help me!-
As noted on :5, this attitude was to change after his sin with Bathsheba. The injustice of Saul's persecution weighed heavily on David's mind in the Psalms written at this time. But clearly this led him too far along the road of self righteousness and assumption of his general perfection, which led him into the sin with Bathsheba. We too can wrongly respond to false accusation in the same way.

Psa 59:5

You, Yahweh God of Armies, the God of Israel, rouse Yourself to punish the nations. Show no mercy to the wicked traitors. Selah-
"Show mercy" is the term used in David's plea for forgiveness in Ps. 41:4; 51:1. "I have done no wrong" (:4) was typical of David's attitude before the sin with Bathsheba. He was taught that mercy to the undeserving is the essence of the Gospel; whereas previously he had railed against the display of any such mercy. AV "Be not merciful to any wicked transgressors" heightens the lesson. "Transgressors" or "traitors" is the term used by David of Saul and his supporters (Ps. 25:3; 59:5; 119:158). Solomon uses this term, teaching that "transgressors" must be rooted out of the earth / eretz promised to Abraham (Prov. 2:22), and that the "transgressors" are to face judgment (Prov. 11:3,6; 13:2; 21:18; 22:12; 23:28; 25:19). All Solomon says is true, but he clearly has in view the house and supporters of Saul, who were a group he felt he needed to repress in order to keep his own kingdom and power intact.

Psa 59:6

They return at evening, howling like dogs, and prowl around the city-
This is a description of Saul's men prowling around the city, ensuring David didn't escape (:1). But the language is repeated in :14, with the Hebrew suggesting they would be made to do this again- in the condemnation of the last day. As they had prowled around the perimeters of the city like dogs, so they would be thrown out of Zion in the last day and wander in the darkness of rejection and condemnation. The idea is that they were living out their own condemnation. Their hatred of their brother led them to act out ahead of time the condemnation of the wicked.


Psa 59:7

Behold, they spew with their mouth; swords are in their lips-
Here again we see the lesson of Job's sufferings; that human words are of immense power, and can be as swords.

For, they say, who hears us?-
Here we have an example of God perceiving what human words and attitudes mean in reality, before Him. For they likely didn't actually exalt that nobody heard their words, and that therefore they were unaccountable to God. But this was what their attitudes implied.

Psa 59:8

But You, Yahweh, laugh at them. You scoff at all the nations-
David was in an apparently hopeless position, with the house he was in, and the entire city, encicled by Saul's men (:1,6). But he was confident that at that moment, Yahweh was laughing at those men. He was treating them as the Gentile nations. David commonly perceives the hateful and apostate within Israel as mere Gentiles. Or perhaps "the nations" was added under inspiration at a later point, perhaps during the exile.

Psa 59:9

Oh my Strength, I watch for You- As Saul "watched" or "kept" the house, David's response was to keep or watch over God's ways (:1 s.w.).

For God is my high tower-
David sees that Yahweh will be a "high tower" or place of refuge at the day of future judgment (Ps. 9:8,9, quoted about this in Acts 17:31). This was his ultimate defence, rather than the house in which he was taking refuge at the time (:1). But David feels God has been like this to him in this life (2 Sam. 22:3; Ps. 18:2; 46:7; 48:3; 59:9,16,17; 62:2; 94:22; 144:2). He therefore sees a seamless experience in his relationship with God in this life, and at the future day of judgment. God saves us right now and is a refuge for us in countless life situations; and this is the guarantee that He will be likewise at the last day.

Psa 59:10

My God will go before me with His grace- David was inside his house surrounded by his enemies (:1), and escaped through a window. As he planned the escape, he believed that God's grace would go before him. At the end of his life he appears to reflect upon this incident, glorying that although he was "compassed about" with the threat of death, seeing the house was surrounded by Saul's men intending to kill him; yet God's grace had somehow gone before David and prepared a way of escape (Ps. 18:5,18 s.w.).

God will let me look at my enemies in triumph-
AV "See my desire upon my enemies". David's desire to see his enemies condemned seems to sharply contradict the Father who has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ez. 33:11).

Psa 59:11

Don’t kill them immediately, or my people may forget. Scatter them by Your power-
David wanted them to be destroyed (:13), but he wanted them to be scattered and then destroyed, so that their doom would be a lesson to as many people as possible. This was what happened to God's apostate people- they were scattered as a lesson to the nations.

And bring them down-
The phrase is usually used by David to mean 'bring them down to the grave'. David is seeking to invert Saul's command to bring David up to him to be killed- up the hill to the upper town in Gibeah where Saul's palace was. David sees the descend of Saul's men from the palace down to his house as God bringing them down- to condemnation.

Lord our shield-
Another allusion to the promise that God would be a shield to Abraham and his seed. The promises to Abraham were continually appealed to by David in his times of crises.

Psa 59:12

For the sin of their mouth, and the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride-
We note how "sin" and "words" are paralleled. Pride and words spoken are the basis for their condemnation- things which would be shrugged off merely as surface level weakness by many today.


For the curses and lies which they utter-
There were no expletives used in ancient languages. The curses they uttered were imprecations for Divine judgment upon David; and he asks for these curses to come true for them. But again we note the lack of grace and desire for their repentance on David's part. Although unrecorded in the historical record, Saul would have justified his demand for David to be arrested and salin by various untrue lies about him. Backed up by curses.

Psa 59:13

Consume them in wrath, consume them, and they will be no more. Let them know that God rules in Jacob, to the ends of the earth. Selah-
The idea may be that he wanted the God of Jacob to be known as king throughout the eretz promised to Abraham. He wished for the Kingdom, the dominion of the king, to be known within that entire territory. And David considered that the destruction of the wicked would achieve this. It is perhaps intentionally ambiguous as to whether David wanted them to finally "know that God rules", rather than Saul ruling, as meaning he wanted them to repent- or whether he wanted them to realize all too late, in their condemnation, that "God rules". It appears from :14,15 that the latter is how David saw it. And such wishing of condemnation upon men seems to me quite wrong.

Psa 59:14

At evening let them return. Let them howl like a dog, and go around the city-
The ecclesia in the wilderness were ‘types of us’. They were rejected from entry into the Kingdom; and when that finally sunk in, they “returned [s.w. convert, turn back] and wept before the Lord; but the Lord would not hearken to your voice” (Dt. 1:45). The rejected will “return [s.w. convert] at evening: they make a noise like a dog [whining for acceptance], and go round about the city [cp. the foolish virgins knocking on the closed door]”. This is the picture of Rev, 22:15, where the dogs wander outside the closed city of Zion. The language here repeats that of :6. This was a description of Saul's men prowling around the city, ensuring David didn't escape (:1). But the language is repeated here in :14, but with the Hebrew suggesting they would be made to do this again- in the condemnation of the last day. As they had prowled around the perimeters of the city like dogs, so they would be thrown out of Zion in the last day and wander in the darkness of rejection and condemnation. The idea is that they were living out their own condemnation. Their hatred of their brother led them to act out ahead of time the condemnation of the wicked.

Psa 59:15

They shall wander up and down for food, and howl all night because they aren’t satisfied-
David was confident that God would deliver him from his encirclement, and that all who were out watching for him that night would find he had escaped and be "not satisfied". But he sees this as looking forward to their ultimate disappointment in the condemnation of the last day; see on :14. The lack of "satisfaction" is a major theme in the descriptions of condemnation for those who break the covenant (s.w. Lev. 26:26). And it is the principle we must live by today; that the only satisfaction is in the things of God's Kingdom. Even in this life, the eye is not "satisfied" with seeing or wealth (s.w. Prov. 27:20; Ecc. 1:8; 4:8; 5:10). And those who seek such satisfaction from those things will find that dissatisfaction is the lead characteristic of their condemnation (Ps. 59:15). Tragically Solomon knew the truth of all this but lived otherwise; just as so many do who give lip service to the idea that the things of the flesh cannot satisfy.

Psa 59:16

But I will sing of Your strength. Yes, I will sing aloud of Your grace in the morning. For You have been my high tower, a refuge in the day of my distress-
David escaped by night from his house when surrounded by Saul's men (:1). This Psalm is his confident prayer before escaping out of the window. He was confident that by morning he would be safe and able to praise God for the deliverance. But the words also have generic reference to how David's first waking moments were naturally of prayer to God. And this is our pattern. He often mentions his habit of regular prayer morning and evening (Ps. 5:3; 55:17; 59:16; 88:3; 119:147). This  should not have to be enforced upon us, but rather the natural outcome of a life lived in constant connection with God. David perceived that the Mosaic ritual of morning and evening sacrifice taught the sacrifice of prayer should be made in daily life, even though at the time of many of the Psalms, David was exiled from the sanctuary. This exile from organized religion led him to make this connection, as it can for us too.

Psa 59:17

To You, my strength, I will sing praises. For God is my high tower, the God of my mercy-
As noted on :16, Dvid was confident that God would deliver him from his hopeless situation, in the house encircled by men sent to murder him (:1). He was confident that one day he would sing praises to God for the deliverance; either the next morning (:16), or in the eternal dawn of God's Kingdom upon earth.