Psalm 59: God with us.
Deliver Me from My Enemies
To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him.
(1)Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me;
(2)deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men.
(3)For behold, they lie in wait for my life; fierce men stir up strife against me. For no transgression or sin of mine, O LORD,
(4)for no fault of mine, they run and make ready. Awake, come to meet me, and see!
(5)You, LORD God of hosts, are God of Israel. Rouse yourself to punish all the nations; spare none of those who treacherously plot evil.
(6)Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city.
(7)There they are, bellowing with their mouths with swords in their lips–for “who,” they think, “will hear us?”
(8)But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you hold all the nations in derision.
(9)O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress.
(10)My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.
(11)Kill them not, lest my people forget; make them totter by your power and bring them down, O Lord, our shield!
(12)For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride. For the cursing and lies that they utter,
(13)consume them in wrath; consume them till they are no more, that they may know that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the earth.
(14)Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city.
(15)They wander about for food and growl if they do not get their fill.
(16)But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.
(17)O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.
Psalm 59 is a song for the choir director of the temple to a tune, Altaschith, “Do Not Destroy” or “Destroy Not.” A Miktam or Michtam which is a sort of literary or musical term that Bible scholars don’t totally understand because the word is ancient and unused anymore.
But the 19th century English pastor Charles Spurgeon calls the handful of Psalms with this title: David’s Golden Secret Psalms.
The historical scene can be found in 1 Samuel 19:11-18. This Psalm may be the earliest written during David’s days of fleeing from Saul. David was young– maybe twenty years old– and thus begins his decade long struggle as a fugitive.
Saul is king over the people of Israel. He is also David’s father-in-law and the father of his best friend. David had a high rank in Saul’s army and led men into battle where “tens of thousands” were destroyed. He killed the famous giant of the Philistines, Goliath, when he was a teenager. He was also sometimes the musician that Saul called upon to sing and play music for him.
And now…after all of that…he had to run.
Rescue me from my enemies, O God. Protect me from those who have come to destroy me. Rescue me from these criminals; save me from these murderers. They have set an ambush for me. Fierce enemies are out there waiting, LORD, though I have not sinned or offended them. I have done nothing wrong, yet they prepare to attack me. Wake up! See what is happening and help me! O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, wake up and punish those hostile nations. Show no mercy to wicked traitors.
Psalm 59:1-5 NLT
Rescue me! Protect me! Save me! Help me!
Here we see David’s heart and his deep relationship with God. Who do you call upon during your time of need? Do you cry out similar words?
Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God, defend me from them that rise up against me. KJV
Too often we hear these words, “O my God,” cried out differently. David’s heart called out to his God, the only one who heard him and could save him.
“We wish that those who thoughtlessly exclaim O my God today would change and do so with the heart and sense of personal trust that David had.”
–Pastor David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com
David calls upon the Lord using a number of different Hebrews names: God, LORD, LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel. How beautiful is that?
“Saul had more cause to fear than David had, for the invincible weapon of prayer was being used against him, and heaven was being aroused to give him battle.”
–Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
We, as believers, have the most invaluable weapon at our disposal, the Name of the Lord. We know Him. We know His Name. We can call upon Him at any time. We are never alone.
“He was one man, alone, hated, pursued, proscribed by the king, condemned to death without a trial, and an entire army at the disposal of his chief enemy had been commissioned to kill him. Hopeless? No indeed; God was with David!”
–James Burton Coffman, pastor, 1905-2006
They come out at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets. Listen to the filth that comes from their mouths; their words cut like swords. “After all, who can hear us?” they sneer. But LORD, you laugh at them. You scoff at all the hostile nations. You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress. In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me. He will let me look down in triumph on all my enemies.
Psalm 59:6-10 NLT
David compares the men that Saul sent to attack him as wild dogs. In ancient eastern cities, wild dogs were dangerous, vicious scavengers: a metaphor that the Israelites really understood. But these particular dogs spoke, as well. They spread lies and hollered insults.
David is angry at their disregard for God. He sees their attack on him as an attack on the Lord. He has done no wrong, and he is in fact God’s chosen one to rule over Israel at the proper time. Therefore, the fact that these men would seek to kill him by following Saul’s order is an attack against God.
And David, does not deal well with blasphemy against his God.
When man does not answer to anyone but himself, bad things happen.
“When men have none to call them to account, there is no accounting to what they will do. He who neither fears God nor regards man set out on errands of oppression with gusto, and uses language concerning it of the most atrociously cruel sort. David must have been in a singular plight when he could hear the foul talk and hideous braggings of Saul’s black guards around the house.”
But God is our strength in difficult times. God was David’s strength; like a high tower, a fortress! In His unfailing love, His faithfulness throughout time, His lovingkindness, His covenant hesed love, David is protected. So are you and I.
Don’t kill them, for my people soon forget such lessons; stagger them with your power, and bring them to their knees, O Lord our shield. Because of the sinful things they say, because of the evil that is on their lips, let them be captured by their pride, their curses, and their lies. Destroy them in your anger! Wipe them out completely! Then the whole world will know that God reigns in Israel.
Psalm 59:11-13 NLT
David prays a soldier’s prayer here. God is his shield and his high tower, his mighty fortress…a soldier’s prayer. David also asks God to have vengeance and deliver, but always and only for the glory of God. David asks that his deliverance be God’s will and God’s doing, so that the people of Israel and the whole world will know the name of the Lord.
“It is our wisdom and duty, in times of danger and difficulty, to wait upon God; for he is our defence, our high place, in whom we shall be safe.”
–Matthew Henry, English minister, 1662-1714
My enemies come out at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets. They scavenge for food but go to sleep unsatisfied.
Psalm 59:14-15 NLT
David repeats his thoughts from verse 6. He compares, again, those hunting him to a pack of wild dogs. But these wild dogs go to bed hungry.
But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.
Psalm 59:16-17 NLT
David is just beginning his life on the run, yet he sings of God’s power and unfailing love. He sings of God’s strength and deliverance. How? How does he have such faith?
I love how Pastor David Guzik closes his commentary on this Psalm:
“When King Saul sent assassins to David’s house, he openly revealed his desire to kill David. From them on, for the next many years (perhaps 10 to 15 years), David had to live as a fugitive, constantly in danger of his life. It’s interesting to notice that David entered that period singing praises and was still able to pour out his heart to God in song at the end of that period (2 Samuel 1:17-27).”
May this Psalm from the heart of David inspire you and I to love God more deeply, to know God more deeply, and to tell others about that covenant hesed unfailing love.
For the mountains may move and hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken, says the LORD, who has mercy on you.
Isaiah 54:10 NLT
For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 NLT
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37-39 NLT
Father in heaven, thank you for your word. Thank you that we can read these psalms of David and learn a new thing each time. Thank you for your faithfulness and your unfailing love. Give us strength today to face whatever we must. Defend us. Protect us. Help us. We cannot do life without you. You are our faithful father; faithful to Abraham, to David, and to us today. We love you and we believe your word, and we praise you. Amen.