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Psalm chapter 59

English Standard Version

1To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him. Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me; 2deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men. 3For behold, they lie in wait for my life; fierce men stir up strife against me. For no transgression or sin of mine, O LORD, 4for no fault of mine, they run and make ready. Awake, come to meet me, and see! 5You, LORD God of hosts, are God of Israel. Rouse yourself to punish all the nations; spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. Selah 6Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city. 7There they are, bellowing with their mouths with swords in their lips— for “Who,” they think, “will hear us?” 8But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you hold all the nations in derision. 9O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress. 10My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies. 11Kill them not, lest my people forget; make them totter by your power and bring them down, O Lord, our shield! 12For 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, 13consume 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. Selah 14Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city. 15They wander about for food and growl if they do not get their fill. 16But 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. 17O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.
New International Version

New American Standard Bible

1Rescue me from my enemies, my God; Set me securely on high away from those who rise up against me. 2Rescue me from those who practice injustice, And save me from men of bloodshed. 3For behold, they have set an ambush for my life; Fierce men attack me, Not for my wrongdoing nor for my sin, Lord, 4 For no guilt of mine, they run and take their stand against me. Stir Yourself to help me, and see! 5You, Lord God of armies, the God of Israel, Awake to punish all the nations; Do not be gracious to any who deal treacherously in wrongdoing. Selah 6They return at evening, they howl like a dog, And prowl around the city. 7Behold, they gush forth with their mouths; Swords are in their lips, For, they say, 'Who hears?' 8But You, Lord, laugh at them; You scoff at all the nations. 9 Because of his strength I will watch for You, For God is my refuge. 10 My God in His faithfulness will meet me; God will let me look triumphantly upon my enemies. 11Do not kill them, or my people will forget; Scatter them by Your power and bring them down, Lord, our shield. 12 On account of the sin of their mouths and the words of their lips, May they even be caught in their pride, And on account of curses and lies which they tell. 13 Destroy them in wrath, destroy them so that they will no longer exist; So that people may know that God rules in Jacob, To the ends of the earth. Selah 14They return at evening, they howl like a dog, And prowl around the city. 15They wander about for food And murmur if they are not satisfied. 16But as for me, I will sing of Your strength; Yes, I will joyfully sing of Your faithfulness in the morning, For You have been my refuge And a place of refuge on the day of my distress. 17My strength, I will sing praises to You; For God is my refuge, the God who shows me favor.
Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

What does Psalm chapter 59 mean?

Although Saul was the first king of Israel, he ignored the Lord and was ultimately rejected by Him (1 Samuel 15:11). David was God's chosen successor (1 Samuel 16:13). Even though David never attempted to take over the throne, Saul was violently jealous (1 Samuel 19:9–10). This psalm was inspired by an incident where Saul sent assassins to watch David's home. The plot was foiled when David's wife—Michal, daughter of king Saul—helped David escape through a window (1 Samuel 19:11–16). David mostly praises God for the rescue he is sure will come. Yet he also calls on the Lord to bring disaster and justice to these evil ones—making this one of the so-called "imprecatory" psalms.

David begins by praying for rescue. He refers to those who attack him as "bloodthirsty" or "men of blood." These are violent people participating in evil. David often found himself in dangerous situations (1 Samuel 17:34–35, 48–49; 19:8; 2 Samuel 15:13–14). Yet, his consistent pattern was to trust in God and rely on His power (Psalm 3:1–3; 35:1–2; 54:1–3). This request is soon followed by an explanation of the activities of David's enemies (Psalm 59:1–2).

Those who lurk to attack David act like the feral dogs of ancient Israel: moving in a pack, in the night, waiting to attack unsuspecting prey. David knows their plot is based on lies and evil, because he has done nothing to deserve their violence (1 Samuel 20:1–3). Their words are violent, and they act arrogantly as if there will be no consequence for their crimes (Psalm 59:3–7).

Still, David has confidence in God's ultimate control over all things. David turns from an emphasis on his opponents to an expression of deep faith in the Lord's power. He refers to God as his "strength" and anticipates the moment of victory which is sure to come. David bases this assurance on the Lord's previous work in preserving David's life (1 Samuel 17:34–35, 48–49). David chooses faith in God's loyal and consistent love, rather than fear (Psalm 59:8–10).

Rather than a swift death, David prays that God will make an example of these enemies. Since David was able to escape, their crimes are in the form of plotting and lying. David knows Israel's history of forgetting—or ignoring—God's work on their behalf (Judges 2:16–19). He hopes their conspiracy will be revealed, and crushed, before the conspirators are completely obliterated. As with other imprecatory passages, David does not plan to take revenge himself. Instead, he trusts that God (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19) will bring retribution (Psalm 59:11–13).

The psalm ends with David comparing the animal-like, evil noises of his enemies to his own singing of praise. David expects to be rescued from this danger and to worship God once more (Psalm 59:14–17)
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