Prayer of the Innocent. Psalm 59:1-17

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1 1 Commentary by Clyde M. Miller Questions by John C. Sewell Prayer of the Innocent Psalm 59:1-17

2 2 Text: Psalm 59:1-17, Prayer of the Innocent Commentary by Clyde M. Miller 1. Deliver me from my enemies, O God; protect me from those who rise up against me. 2. Deliver me from evildoers and save me from bloodthirsty men. 3. See how they lie in wait for me! Fierce men conspire against me for no offense or sin of mine, O LORD. 4. I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me. Arise to help me; look on my plight! 5. O LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel, rouse yourself to punish all the nations; show no mercy to wicked traitors. Selah 6. They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. 7. See what they spew from their mouths they spew out swords from their lips, and they say, "Who can hear us?" 8. But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you scoff at all those nations. 9. O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress, 10. my loving God. God will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me. 11. But do not kill them, O Lord our shield, or my people will forget. In your might make them wander about, and bring them down. 12. For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride. For the curses and lies they utter,

3 consume them in wrath, consume them till they are no more. Then it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob. Selah 14. They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. 15. They wander about for food and howl if not satisfied. 16. But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. 17. O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. (NIV) Introduction: I. For the historical notation in the superscription, see 1 Sam. 19. A. 1 Samuel 19:1-24, Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan was very fond of David and warned him, "My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there. I will go out and stand with my father in the field where you are. I'll speak to him about you and will tell you what I find out." Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, "Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly. He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The LORD won a great victory for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?" Saul listened to Jonathan and took this oath: "As surely as the LORD lives, David will not be put to death." So Jonathan called David and told him the whole conversation. He brought him to Saul, and David was with Saul as before. Once more war broke out, and David went out and fought the Philistines. He struck them with such force that they fled before him.

4 4 But an evil spirit from the LORD came upon Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the harp, Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape. Saul sent men to David's house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David's wife, warned him, "If you don't run for your life tonight, tomorrow you'll be killed." So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped. Then Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed, covering it with a garment and putting some goats' hair at the head. When Saul sent the men to capture David, Michal said, "He is ill." Then Saul sent the men back to see David and told them, "Bring him up to me in his bed so that I may kill him." But when the men entered, there was the idol in the bed, and at the head was some goats' hair. Saul said to Michal, "Why did you deceive me like this and send my enemy away so that he escaped?" Michal told him, "He said to me, 'Let me get away. Why should I kill you?' " When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there. Word came to Saul: "David is in Naioth at Ramah"; so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came upon Saul's men and they also prophesied. Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied. Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Secu. And he asked, "Where are Samuel and David?" "Over in Naioth at Ramah," they said. So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel's presence. He lay that way all that

5 5 day and night. This is why people say, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" (NIV) II. Psalm 59 is mainly in the form of an individual lament, with overtones of adaptation to a national lament, as the reference to nations indicates (5b, 8b). A. Psalm 59:5, 8, O LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel, rouse yourself to punish all the nations; show no mercy to wicked traitors. Selah But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you scoff at all those nations. (NIV) III. The description of oppression and the vindictive attitude of the writer are much like Psalms 55 and 58. A. Psalm 55:1-23, Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest- I would flee far away and stay in the desert; Selah I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm." Confuse the wicked, O Lord, confound their speech, for I see violence and strife in the city. Day and night they prowl about on its walls; malice and abuse are within it. Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets. If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God. Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go

6 6 down alive to the grave, for evil finds lodging among them. But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. God, who is enthroned forever, will hear them and afflict them Selah men who never change their ways and have no fear of God. My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords. Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. But you, O God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of corruption; bloodthirsty and deceitful men will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you. (NIV) B. Psalm 58:1-11, Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge uprightly among men? No, in your heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out violence on the earth. Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies. Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be. Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; tear out, O LORD, the fangs of the lions! Let them vanish like water that flows away; when they draw the bow, let their arrows be blunted. Like a slug melting away as it moves along, like a stillborn child, may they not see the sun. Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns whether they be green or dry the wicked will be swept away. The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked. Then men will say, "Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth." (NIV)

7 7 IV. Repetition characterizes this psalm. Verses 6 and 14 are almost identical, and verse 9 is similar to verse 17. A. Psalm 59:6, They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. (NIV) B. Psalm 59:14, They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. (NIV) C. Psalm 59:9, O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress, (NIV) D. Psalm 59:17, O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. (NIV) V. The psalm begins with a prayer for protection (1-5) followed by a description of the enemy and an expression of faith in God s deliverance (6-10a). This is followed by an extended plea for vindication (10b-13). The psalm ends by contrasting the fate of his enemies and of himself (14-17). A. Psalm 59:1-5, 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. See how they lie in wait for me! Fierce men conspire against me for no offense or sin of mine, O LORD. I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me. Arise to help me; look on my plight! O LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel, rouse yourself to punish all the nations; show no mercy to wicked traitors. Selah (NIV) B. Psalm 59:6-10, They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. See what they spew from their mouths they spew out swords from their lips, and

8 8 they say, "Who can hear us?" But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you scoff at all those nations. O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. God will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me. (NIV) C. Psalm 59:10-13, my loving God. God will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me. But do not kill them, O Lord our shield, or my people will forget. In your might make them wander about, and bring them down. For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride. For the curses and lies they utter, consume them in wrath, consume them till they are no more. Then it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob. Selah (NIV) D. Psalm 59:14-17, They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. They wander about for food and howl if not satisfied. But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. (NIV) Commentary: Prayer for Protection Psalm 59:1-5, 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. See how they lie in wait for me! Fierce men conspire against me for no offense or sin of mine, O LORD. I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me. Arise to help me; look on my plight! O LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel, rouse yourself to punish all the nations; show no mercy to wicked traitors. Selah (NIV)

9 9 Psalm 59:1, Deliver me from my enemies, O God; protect me from those who rise up against me. (NIV) I. Deliver me and protect me are synonymous expressions, as are my enemies and those who rise up against me. A. Synonymous parallelism stays the mind on a single thought a little longer for emphasis. 1. The implication in verse 1 is that God is able and willing to deliver. Psalm 59:2, Deliver me from evildoers and save me from bloodthirsty men. (NIV) I. Verse 2 repeats the thought of verse 1. A. Deliver me and save me are similar pleas as those in verse Bloodthirsty men are callous murderers, so he feels that his life is in danger. Psalm 59:3, See how they lie in wait for me! Fierce men conspire against me for no offense or sin of mine, O LORD. (NIV) I. Lie in wait suggests that the enemies are planning to ambush him. A. Fierce conspirators plot his ruin. 1. Yet, he has committed no offense or sin against them.

10 He is not claiming sinless perfection; rather he denies that they have been harmed by him in any way. Psalm 59:4, 5, I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me. Arise to help me; look on my plight! O LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel, rouse yourself to punish all the nations; show no mercy to wicked traitors. Selah (NIV) I. Verse 4a continues his protestation of innocence, and implies the wrong of the enemies who plan to attack him. A. This thought suggests that he is a ruler who is in danger. 1. God Almighty is certainly able to route the enemy. 2. Since He is the God of Israel, He should exercise his covenant commitment to Israel s leader. 3. Especially is this true since they are wicked traitors. 4. Apparently, they had made some kind of covenant of peace with Israel but now have broken faith. Trust for Deliverance From Formidable Enemies Psalm 59: 6-10a, They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. See what they spew from their mouths they spew out swords from their lips, and they say, "Who can hear us?" But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you scoff at all those nations. O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. (NIV) Psalm 59:6, They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. (NIV)

11 11 I. Enemies are portrayed by the simile of ravenous snarling dogs who plan to attack at evening when they can be furtive in their activities. A. They prowl about the city, probably Jerusalem, alarming the citizenry. II. Verse 6 is repeated in verse 14 in identical form, thus indicating a refrain. A. Psalm 59:6, They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. (NIV) B. Psalm 59:14, They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. (NIV) Psalm 59:7, See what they spew from their mouths they spew out swords from their lips, and they say, "Who can hear us?" (NIV) I. They spew out swords from their lips is a metaphor of their threatening words (cf. 57:4). Psalm 57:4, I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. (NIV) II. Who can hear us? is a rhetorical question that is to be answered in the negative. A. The thought is that there will be no consequences of their deeds. B. The implication is that even God pays no attention.

12 12 Psalm 59:8, But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you scoff at all those nations. (NIV) I. Verse 8 counters the thought processes of the enemies. A. God not only hears but he ridicules their impudence. B. Laugh at and scoff at are synonymous expressions. Psalm 59:9-10, O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. God will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me. (NIV) I. Verses 9-10a form a refrain in almost identical terms. A. I watch for you (9a) becomes I sing praise to you in verse Psalm 59:9, Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defence. 2. Psalm 59:17, Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy. B. My strength and my fortress are synonymous expressions. 1. God is represented as one able to deliver. 2. My loving God is literally God of his steadfast/enduring love. a. The phrase obviously is describing God s love.

13 13 C. The word chesedh, steadfast/enduring love, appears three times in the psalm (10a, 16b, 17c). 1. Psalm 59:10, my loving God. God will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me. (NIV) 2. Psalm 59:16, But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. (NIV) 3. Psalm 59:17, O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. (NIV) D. The psalmist expresses faith in God s ability and willingness to deliver him. Plea for Vindication Psalm 59:10-13, my loving God. God will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me. But do not kill them, O Lord our shield, or my people will forget. In your might make them wander about, and bring them down. For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride. For the curses and lies they utter, consume them in wrath, consume them till they are no more. Then it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob. Selah (NIV) Psalm 59:10, my loving God. God will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me. (NIV) I. The concept of gloating over the discomfiture of one s enemies is generally frowned upon in Scripture (cf. Job 31:29-30; Ps. 30:1; 35:19,24,26; 38:16, et al).

14 14 A. Job 31:29, 30, "If I have rejoiced at my enemy's misfortune or gloated over the trouble that came to him- I have not allowed my mouth to sin by invoking a curse against his life-(niv) B. Psalm 30:1, I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. (NIV) C. Psalm 35:19, 24, 26, Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye. Vindicate me in your righteousness, O LORD my God; do not let them gloat over me. May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace. (NIV) D. Psalm 38:16, For I said, "Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips." (NIV) II. The strong language here sounds vindictive. A. This may indicate the depths of the psalmist s distress. B. Perhaps he hopes for the day when God will make his enemies bear the full consequence of their gloating over him. Psalm 59:11, But do not kill them, O Lord our shield, or my people will forget. In your might make them wander about, and bring them down. (NIV) I. The author wants his enemies to remain alive and to become wanderers as witnesses to Israel of God s judgment.

15 15 A. Otherwise, Israel might soon forget the lesson to be learned. Psalm 59:12, For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride. For the curses and lies they utter, (NIV) I. Lines one and two are synonymous. A. Line three expresses the principal clause stating the consequence of their sinful prideful speech. Psalm 59:12,13, For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride. For the curses and lies they utter, consume them in wrath, consume them till they are no more. Then it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob. Selah (NIV) I. Verses 12d-13b form a climactic triplet that announces the curses and lies of the enemies that makes them liable for utter extension. II. Verse 13c,d states the consequence of the destruction of Israel s enemies. A. Universal recognition of the sovereignty of God over Jacob, that is, Israel will be forthcoming. B. Surely foreign nations would not dare to come against Israel s victorious sovereign! Contrasting Fates of the Enemies and of the Writer Psalm 59:14-17, They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. They wander about for food and howl if not satisfied. But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will

16 16 sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. (NIV) Psalm 59:14, They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. (NIV) I. For the significance of this refrain, see the notes on verse 6. A. Psalm 59:6, They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. (NIV) Psalm 59:15, They wander about for food and howl if not satisfied. (NIV) I. The first line suggests that their appetites are not satiated. A. The second line indicates their uncontrolled reactions when not satisfied. Psalm 59:16, But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. (NIV) I. The terms strength, and fortress are repeated in this psalm (9,16,17). A. Psalm 59: 9, 16, 17, O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress, But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. (NIV) B. Verse 16 adds a third term, refuge.

17 17 C. The last two terms are metaphors of strength. D. The fact that he sings about love in the morning is evidence of its importance to the writer. E. Love renders the famous word chesedh that refers to enduring covenant love. Psalm 59:17, O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. (NIV) I. Verse 17 is an exact duplication of verses 9-10a. A. Psalm 59:9, 10, O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. God will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me. (NIV) Application: B. See the notes there. I. The repetitious subject matter in psalms of lament and petition may cause one to become lethargic regarding the circumstances that often faced the writer or writers. II. How often do faithful disciples of God face almost insurmountable obstacles to peace and serenity. III. Only a steadfast faith will enable one to endure to the end that he may receive the crown of life (Rev. 2:10). A. Revelation 2:10, Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be

18 18 faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (NIV)

19 19 Questions Psalm 59:1-17 (Questions based on NIV text.) 1. The psalmist prayed, me from my, O God; me from those who me. me from and me from. 2. In our society would a similar prayer be appropriate? Why or why not? 3. Charges against the psalmist s enemies include: (1) they in for me. (2) They ( ) against me. (3) They are ready to me. 4. What had the psalmist done to cause this situation to exist? How do you explain this? What justice is there in this? 5. The psalmist further prayed, to me; on my!

20 20 to all the ; show to. 6. The Lord God Almighty is said to be the God of Israel. Was God the God of Israel exclusively or the God of all the nations including Israel? Explain your answer. 7. The psalmist further charged that his enemies at, like, and about the. They words like from their lips and claimed that no one could them, hold them accountable. 8. What was the Lord s response to these behaviors? 9. God is said to be the psalmist s and for whom the psalmist. God is said to be a God who would go before the as a protector. 10. The psalmist wanted to gloat over those who were slandering him. Is this consistent with the teachings of the Bible? Explain your answer.

21 What did the psalmist want done regarding these enemies? What did he not want done? Why did he make these requests of the Lord? With what attitude did the psalmist want God to act? 12. For God s response to his prayers the psalmist promised to of God s and. The psalmist spoke of God as his and in times of, his. 13. What words are used in Psalm 59 to describe the Lord? 14. What historical events served as the background for the writing of this psalm?

22 Outline Psalm What lessons, principles does this psalm present which are applicable to your life? 17. What attitudes, behaviors found in Psalm 59 would you like to inculcate into your life? 18. What attitudes, behaviors found in Psalm 59 would you definitely not want in your life? 19. Each person decides what kind of person he/she wants to be. What kind of person do you really want to be?

23 In your entire life for what have you most earnestly prayed?

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