What does Psalm 27:12 mean?
ESV: Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence.
NIV: Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations.
NASB: Do not turn me over to the desire of my enemies, For false witnesses have risen against me, And the violent witness.
CSB: Do not give me over to the will of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing violence.
NLT: Do not let me fall into their hands. For they accuse me of things I’ve never done; with every breath they threaten me with violence.
KJV: Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.
NKJV: Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence.
Verse Commentary:
Although David enjoyed victories, he did not become complacent. He knew he needed the Lord's help to stay safe. The early verses of this psalm described David's confidence in God and God's provision (Psalm 27:1–3). And yet, in these later verses, David is asking God for deliverance. This is the right response to our human fears and anxieties: to remember the promises of God and choose to trust in Him despite our worries.

In this passage, David describes his foes as false witnesses. They had been spreading lies about him, and they had sworn to kill him. This might refer to Saul, earlier in David's life, or to David's own son, Absalom, who led a violent rebellion (2 Samuel 15:12–14).

The scribes and Pharisees were sworn foes of the Lord Jesus. Luke 11:54 reports that they were "lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say." Matthew 26:3–4 informs us that that the chief priests and elders conspired in the palace of Caiaphas, the high priest, "to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him." Further, the chief priests and members of the Jewish council searched for "false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death" (Matthew 26:59). Finally, two false witnesses came forward to malign Jesus (Matthew 26:60–61). We should never underestimate the length to which enemies of God will go to oppose Him and His people.
Verse Context:
Psalm 27:7–14 reveals that David, while he commits his faith to God, is not immune from fear. In the prior section of this psalm, David stated his reasons to be confident in the Lord. Here, however, David seems to be pleading for those exact protections. Like anyone else, David experienced anxiety. Rather than succumbing to fear, however, David chose to trust God, remind himself of God's protection, and come to the Lord in prayer. This is concluded with another expression of trust in God.
Chapter Summary:
David lays out the reasons he should be confident in God's protection. David then transitions, almost abruptly, into heartfelt pleas for God to rescue him from his enemies. The impression is that David is experiencing natural human anxiety and responding by reminding himself of God's goodness. The psalm ends with the same assurance expressed when it began.
Chapter Context:
Most Bible scholars believe David wrote Psalm 27 when he was in exile, with King Saul in hot pursuit. If so, the psalm aligns with other writings David composed during this time. Psalms 21, 26, and 28 are good examples. Others think this might have been written when David was fleeing from his violently rebellious son, Absalom. For the most part, Psalm 27 expresses David's confidence in the Lord as his guide and deliverer, but he also demonstrates his human fears by pleading with God for the exact thing he has been so confident of.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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