Psalm 059


If you take a look at the title for today’s psalm, you’ll see that it was inspired by the events recorded for us in 1 Samuel 19 which we were studying last Sunday morning. According to the title, this psalm was written in connection with the time when Saul sent men to watch David’s house in order to kill him. And in 1 Samuel 19 we’re told of a time when Saul tried to kill David with his spear. But David eluded Saul and his spear and went home. However, Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and then to kill him in the morning. But do you remember? Somehow or other, David’s wife, Michal, discovered Saul’s plan and she helped David to escape out of a window and he fled for his life. Meanwhile, she put the idol in David’s bed, to fool Saul’s men. They thought he was fast asleep in bed, when in fact he was heading for Ramah where Samuel lived.

So, that’s the inspiration for today’s psalm. The psalm is a lamentation, because in it David is calling on the Lord for help because of the trouble he’s in. And it can be divided into two main parts: verses 1 to 10 and verses 11 to 17. And both parts match one another. They both begin with a petition or prayer to God. In the first part, he prays to the Lord to deliver him. In the second part, he prays to the Lord to bring down his enemies. Then in both parts, he describes his enemies, comparing them to ferocious dogs who snarl and prowl around. And then both parts end with a note of assurance. In the first part, he says that God laughs and scoffs at his enemies. And in the second part, he vows to praise the Lord, who is his Strength and his fortress and his loving God.

And so, let’s turn to study the psalm together.

Verses 1 to 5

And it begins, as many of the lamentations do, with a cry for help:

Deliver me from my enemies, O God;
protect me from those who rise up against me.
Deliver me from evildoers
and save me from bloodthirsty men.

He refers to his enemies as evildoers and as bloodthirsty men. By calling them evildoers, he means they do evil all the time. They do evil, not just once or twice, but continually and relentlessly. And by calling them bloodthirsty men, he’s making clear that these men are ready to take his life. They’re not coming to arrest him, but to shed his blood and to murder him.

David feels that his life is in danger. And so, what does he do? Well, he calls on his God to deliver him and to protect him. The word translated ‘deliver’ can mean ‘snatch away’. And the word translated ‘protect’ can mean ‘exalt’ or ‘set on high’. So, he’s asking the Lord to snatch him from danger and to lift him high above his enemies. We used to have a small dog and sometimes, if another dog was barking at her or snarling at her, and she was frightened, I would reach down and lift her up out of the reach of the other dog. Or, when the children were small and they were frightened, you would pick them up and lift them out of harm’s way. Or someone snatches something from out of the fire to keep it from burning and puts it safely on the mantlepiece. David’s life was in danger because of these bloodthirsty evildoers; and he cried to the Lord to bend down from heaven and to snatch him out of the danger and to lift him to safety.

‘[T]hey lie in wait for me’ he says in verse 3. We can imagine Michal warning David about Saul’s men; and so, he looks out of the window and sees these men, sent by Saul, who are standing in the shadows, keeping an eye on his house, waiting until the morning comes and waiting for a chance to kill him. And he describes them as fierce men who conspire against him; they’re plotting how to take his life. And yet, David has done nothing to deserve this treatment. He has not committed any offence; he has not sinned in any way; he has done no wrong. He’s not claiming absolute perfection, but he’s saying that he’s done nothing to these men to make them his enemies.

David did not wrong Saul in any way. Wasn’t that Jonathan’s point when he spoke to Saul on David’s behalf? He said to his father: Don’t do wrong to David, because he has not wronged you. In fact, everything he’s done has been a benefit to you. Didn’t he kill Goliath? Wasn’t he now a successful army commander who had won great victories for Saul? And didn’t he still play the harp for Saul to soothe his troubled soul? David hadn’t done anything wrong, but he only did what was right. And yet Saul hated him and he sent these bloodthirsty evildoers to kill him.

And so, in verse 4 David calls on the Lord to arise to help him. It’s as if the Lord is sleeping and hasn’t noticed what is going on. And so: Wake up! Rouse yourself! And come to my aid.

And in verse 5, David moves beyond the events of 1 Samuel 19 and he pleads with the Lord to wake up and to rouse himself and to punish, not just the bloodthirsty evildoers who were lying in wait for him, but the nations; and to show no mercy to wicked traitors. The words translated ‘wicked traitors’ can also be translated as ‘those who treacherously plot evil’. David could be thinking of the Philistines who continued to plot evil and to make trouble for Israel in those days. And so, he universalises his appeal to include all the nations: everyone who stands opposed to the kingdom of God on the earth.

And look how David refers to God in verse 5. He is the LORD: that’s LORD in capital letters which means this is God’s special covenant name and it speaks to us of his commitment to his people. And the Lord is the God of Israel, because he had bound himself with a promise to be their God to to take care of them always. And the words translated ‘God Almighty’ should really be translated ‘God of hosts’. That is, he’s the God of the hosts of heaven; he’s the commander of the armies of angels in heaven above; and he’s able to send out his angelic armies to destroy his enemies.

So, here’s David, who is aware that Saul has sent his men to kill him. And as he thinks about them, and the threat they pose to his life, he begins to think of enemy nations, like the Philistines, and of people in every nation who stand opposed to God and his kingdom. And he calls on the Lord his God to wake up and to save his people from their enemies.

Verses 6 and 7

That’s his appeal, his prayer to the Lord. And in verses 6 and 7 he compares his enemies to fierce dogs. So, they’re like wild dogs, running in packs, snarling and growling and prowling around the city, looking for David to devour him. He says that swords spew from their lips which means their words are deadly and harmful. After all, they’re plotting to kill him, aren’t they? And the word ‘spew’ means that their words, and therefore their plans, are many. All these deadly plans are pouring forth from them.

And they say to one another: Who can hear us? In other words, no one can stop us. Perhaps they mean that no other human can stop them. Or perhaps they also mean that the Lord is not able to stop them. Because of their unbelief and arrogance, they think they are invincible.

Verses 8 to 10

Given the danger he’s in, you’d expect David to tremble with fear. But verses 8 to 10 begin with that wonderful word ‘But’. Yes, my enemies are bloodthirsty evildoers; yes, they’re like snarling, growling dogs; yes, they’re planning my destructions; all of that is true, but. But what? But the Lord laughs at them; and he scoffs at the nations. He laughs and scoffs at them, because he is the Lord God Almighty, who made all things and who rules over all things. He dwells in a high and holy place, far above all that he has made; and the nations are like a drop in a bucket to him, they’re like dust on the scales. They are nothing to him. And so, they’re not a serious threat to the Lord; and their opposition only makes him laugh, because, compared to him and his might and power, they are nothing and can do nothing.

And so, David refers to the Lord as his Strength. He’s the one who strengthens his people. And he is our fortress. That is, he’s like a high tower, so that his people, who take refuge in him, are raised up above their enemies. They’re set up out of the reach of their enemies. And the Lord is not only our strength and our fortress, but he’s our loving God. And David refers in this verse to God’s steadfast love, his covenant love, his never-ending love for his people. God has bound himself to his people and he has promised to love them and to care for them always. And so, he’s confident that the Lord will go before him to defend him; and he’s sure that the day will come when he will gloat over his enemies. He’ll gloat over them, because the Lord will bring them down.


And so, that’s the first half of the psalm. First, there was his cry for help. Then he compares his enemies as dogs. Then there was that note of confidence and assurance: God laughs and scoffs at his enemies and David will one day gloat over them. And the second half of the psalm follows the same pattern.

Verses 11 to 13

And so, in verses 11 to 13, he cries to the Lord. But this time, instead of crying to God to deliver him, he cries to God to bring down his enemies. In verse 11, he asks the Lord not to kill them immediately. And he explains that if the Lord kills them immediately, then the people will forget.

So, we’ll all remember 2020, because this pandemic has gone on for so long. But who remembers a cold that comes and goes in a matter of days? And so, if the Lord removed his enemies immediately, everyone would forget. People would ask themselves: Did that really happen? I think so, but I’m not sure. I can’t remember. And so, to prevent them from forgetting, David asks the Lord to let his enemies continue for a while before bringing them down, so that everyone will remember them and what the Lord did to them.

But don’t let them get away with their sins forever; but, when the time is right, consume them in your wrath. So, punish them for the sins of their mouth and for the words of their lips and for their pride and for the curses and the lies they have uttered. When the time is right, bring them down and punish them for what they have done wrong.

And then, he says in verse 13, it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over his people. Think of the time when the Israelites were about to cross over the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land; and they sent spies into Jericho. And do you remember? Rahab told the spies that everyone in Jericho was terrified, because they had heard about some of the mighty things the Lord had done for his people; and some of the mighty things he had done to their enemies. They had heard what he had done for his people. And so, the psalmist prays to the Lord in the psalm, asking him to bring down their enemies so that throughout the world, everyone will know what God is like.

Verses 14 and 15

So, he cries to the Lord. And then, in verses 14 and 15, he once again compares his enemies to fierce dogs, snarling and prowling. And this time he adds that they wander around, looking for food, and howling if not satisfied. In other words, they are relentless and will not give up. They will continue to pursue David until they get him.

Verses 16 and 17

And once again, we’d expect David to tremble with fear because of his enemies. However, in verse 16, we have that wonderful word again: the word ‘but’. Yes, his enemies are like fierce dogs, growling and prowling and howling, but…. But what? But I will sing of your strength; and, when the morning comes, I will sing of your love. David was confident that the Lord his God will keep him safe and will protect him from these fierce enemies. He’ll get through the night. And so, he vows to sing praise to the Lord, who is a fortress and refuge in times of trouble. He vows to praise the Lord, who is his Strength, and his fortress, and his loving God who loves his people with a steadfast, never-ending love.


This psalm is a reminder to us that the world is a battlefield, because not everyone has faith and there are many who do not believe and who stand against the Lord and his kingdom. David suffered because of Saul; but he also suffered because of the Philistines, who wanted to invade the Promised Land and to destroy the people of Israel.

And all over the world, there are those who hate the Lord and his kingdom and who will do everything in their power to frighten believers and to destroy the church. Every Wednesday, I read reports about the persecuted church and the things our brothers and sisters in the Lord suffer for the sake of his name. Just as David did not do any wrong to Saul, so those who are persecuted today have not done anything wrong to their enemies. But they are hated and persecuted because they love the Lord. And there are many in our own country who hate the church, because we love the Lord and we love his word. They despise us and criticise us for what we believe and for what we do. And they put us under pressure to give up what we believe and to conform to the ways of a wicked world.

And behind the opposition we face, there lies the Devil, who hates the Lord and his church; and he comes at us with his wicked schemes by which he tries to destroy our faith and to lead us astray. He is constantly at work in the world, to stir up troubles for believers. He is a roaring lion, who prowls around, looking for someone to devour. He wants to sift and crush us as he wanted to sift and crush Peter. And he fires his flaming arrows at us.

And so, when the Devil puts us under pressure, when he stirs up trouble and opposition against us, when an unbelieving world turns against us, we must do as David did, and we must cry out to the Lord our God to deliver us and to protect us. Snatch us out of danger and lift us up out of harm’s reach. Deliver us from our enemies and save us.

And the good news is that we can count on the Lord to help us, because we have been reconciled to God through faith in his Son who loved us and who gave up his life for us. We have been reconciled to God and have been added to his kingdom. And so, for the sake of Christ the Saviour, God has become our God; and we are his people; and he has promised to love his people with a steadfast, never-ending love, and to care for us and to keep us always.

And though our enemies may terrify us, they do not terrify him, because he is mighty God who rules over all. And so, he laughs at them and he scoffs at them; and they cannot do anything to us without his permission; and he’s able to turn what they do to our advantage and to use it for our good. And therefore, in all our distress, we should turn to him, because he is our Strength and he is our fortress and he is our loving God who loves us with a steadfast love.


And if ever we doubt God’s ability or his willingness to rescue us, we should remember that he rescued his Son. Bloodthirsty evildoers hated him and they were like fierce dogs, snarling and growling at him, spewing out swords from their mouths, attacking him with their words and plotting to do him evil. And they were relentless and did not give up until they had killed the Lord Jesus by nailing him to the cross.

And for a time it seemed that they had won and they had gained the victory over him. But on the third day, God the Father raised his Son from the grave and exalted him to the highest place, far above all his enemies and every power in heaven and on earth, seen and unseen.

And when the time is right, the Lord Jesus will come again in glory and with power to destroy the Devil and all who have sided with him; and to give eternal life to his people, who have trusted in him. His enemies will be sent away to be consumed by God’s wrath for their sins, whereas his people will be invited in to enjoy eternal life in God’s presence.

And as we gather around the Lord’s table on Sunday, we should remember and believe that the only reason God regards us as his people, instead of his enemies, is because of Christ whose body was broken for us and whose blood was shed for us. He gave up his life to pay for our sins and to make peace for us with God. And so, though we were by nature God’s enemies, and liable to his wrath and curse, we have become members of his people. And so, thanks be to God for his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. And thanks be to God, because he is our Strength and our fortress and our loving God, who has promised to love us with an everlasting love.