The Bible

 

Psalms 59

Study the Inner Meaning

           

1 Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: defend me from them that rise up against me.

2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men.

3 For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul: the mighty are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O LORD.

4 They run and prepare themselves without my fault: awake to help me, and behold.

5 Thou therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen: be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah.

6 They return at evening: they make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city.

7 Behold, they belch out with their mouth: swords are in their lips: for who, say they, doth hear?

8 But thou, O LORD, shalt laugh at them; thou shalt have all the heathen in derision.

9 Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defence.

10 The God of my mercy shall prevent me: God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies.

11 Slay them not, lest my people forget: scatter them by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield.

12 For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their pride: and for cursing and lying which they speak.

13 Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be: and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth. Selah.

14 And at evening let them return; and let them make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city.

15 Let them wander up and down for meat, and grudge if they be not satisfied.

16 But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.

17 Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.

  

   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Psalms 59      

By Rev. Julian Duckworth

Psalm 59 is one of several psalms that are based on recorded incidents in David’s life. In this case, it is from a time when David was hiding from King Saul, who had sent men to find him and kill him. The whole psalm is a statement that those who seek to do evil eventually find that it rebounds back on them. It has vivid and descriptive language which is full of illustrations – correspondences – about the nature and doing of evil. The psalm then closes with triumphant praise to God for His power, strength and protection.

All the psalms, at a deep level, also describe the states in the Lord during His life in the world -- in his glorification and also his deep temptations. This is very much the case in this psalm. The psalms also speak truly and accurately about our experiences in our own lives, during our regeneration, which involve temptations and determination on our part.

The opening verse calls to God four times to be delivered from enemies, each time in a different way. This undoubtedly shows the severity of the attack. Deliver me – defend me – deliver me – save me. This may sound like great fear, but it is also expressing a knowledge and deep awareness of the subtle ploys of evil to bring us down. The last of the four speaks of ‘bloodthirsty men’. Spiritually, this means the way in which evil – or hell – seeks to take away our faith, trust, vitality and confidence, our ‘blood’ which is our life. (Arcana Caelestia 4735)

The next several verses command us to see how evil seeks to destroy. This is so even though we have not deviated from our commitment to the Lord. Each set is countered with the Lord’s power to overcome or confound these attacks on us. The language used is very expressive: ‘They lie in wait for my life’, ‘They growl like a dog’, ‘They belch with their mouths’. When we really understand the nature of evil it has a carnal bestiality about it.

‘The Lord shall laugh at them’ (verse 8) reminds us of the truth that the Lord knows the intention and purpose of every evil and good state. Heaven knows hell because all those in heaven have experienced hell; Hell cannot comprehend heaven because it is driven by its own mad desires and knows nothing else. The Lord’s laughter at this is not contempt but Divine knowledge of its futility. (Arcana Caelestia 1093)

The image of a dog is helpful to show up the real nature of evil. A frightened dog is a danger because it is unpredictable. Its growls and slinking movements originate in its fear, as every evil intent does. (Arcana Caelestia 9231)

Verses 11 to 13 have the interesting request for evil not to be slain, not to be destroyed, but to be subdued, lest my people forget. This reminds us of the importance of maintaining a remembrance of evil and its tactics so that generations may never be overcome from ignorance or forgetting evil. For us, spiritually, the same principle of remembrance holds true. We need to remember that without the Lord’s work for our salvation we might well quickly plunge into selfish and ruthless thoughts, loves and actions. (New Jerusalem 163)

But evils that are seen need to be consumed -- consumed in the determination to overcome them and take away their power. While it is the Lord who fights for us in our regeneration and conflicts, we are to engage in resisting evils when they appear, so that we determine they shall not control us but we control them with the Lord with us. (New Jerusalem 194)

The close repetition in verses 14 and 15 of what was said earlier in verses 6 and 7 about the dogs growling and wandering the streets is the Word’s way of helping us to see that evil does not give up easily but returns to attack us with a new and subtler way of weakening us.
(see Heaven and Hell 580)

The last two verses focus entirely on the Lord, his power, his mercy, in defence of us: “For You are my strength, I will sing praises.” Whatever our experience or thoughts or emotions in our spiritual journey, our need is to come back and only focus on the Lord’s loving care for us and all of his creation. (Apocalypse Revealed 22)

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 309


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 2799, 4281, 7091, 7784, 10481

Apocalypse Revealed 52, 952

Doctrine of the Lord 39

True Christian Religion 93


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 131, 179, 671

Marriage 93

Scriptural Confirmations 9, 78

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 40:15

1 Samuel 19:4, 11, 24:5

Nehemiah 13:29

Job 12:24, 15:23

Psalms 2:4, 7:2, 7, 10:7, 11, 46:2, 8, 56:7, 57:1, 5, 10, 11, 64:9, 81:2, 109:17, 118:7, 140:2

Proverbs 12:13

Ezekiel 16

Daniel 6:7

Bible Word Meanings

enemies
An enemy in the Bible refers to people who are in the love of evil and the false thinking that springs from evil. On a...

God
When the Bible speaks of "Jehovah," it is representing love itself, the inmost love that is the essence of the Lord. That divine love is...

rise up
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

rise
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

iniquity
Folly, iniquity, hypocrisy, and error, as in Isaiah 32:6: Folly has respect to the false, iniquity signifies evil, hypocrisy, the evils spoken against goods, and...

save
To be saved or rescued means getting true ideas that we can hold to even in the face of a storm of false thinking. Sometimes...

bloody
Bloods signify evil, in Ezek. 16:9.

soul
The nature of the soul is a deep and complicated topic, but it can be summarized as "spiritual life," who we are in terms of...

mighty
'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

transgression
In the Word three terms are used to mean bad things that are done. These three are transgression, iniquity, and sin, and they are here...

sin
In the Word three terms are used to mean bad things that are done. These three are transgression, iniquity, and sin, and they are here...

lord
The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

awake
'Awake' denotes a clear state.

israel
'Israel,' in Jeremiah 23:8, signifies the spiritual natural church. The children of Israel dispersed all the literal sense of the Word by falsities. 'The children...

visit
The end time of the church and each individual, is called 'the visitation,' and precedes judgment. 'Visitation' is nothing but an exploration of the quality...

heathen
'The time of the heathen,' as mentioned in Ezekiel 30:3, signifies the heathen, or wickedness.

Wicked
'The wicked' or 'unrighteous' denotes being not in truth of faith.

transgressors
In Jeremiah 9:2, the "Adulterous and treacherous men" means those who falsify the knowledges of truth (adulterous men), and those who falsify the knowledges of...

selah
'Selah,' as in Genesis 11:12, signifies an aspect of science.

return
There are many instances in the Bible which describe people turning back, looking back or going back. In most cases it is a negative, sometimes...

evening
Since the light and warmth of the sun represent the Lord’s wisdom and love, it makes sense that evening, a time when the light and...

dog
A dog, as in Exodus 11 (Exod. 11:7: seven, ignifies the lowest or meanest of all in the church, also those who are without the...

city
In the ancient world cities were very nearly nations unto themselves – they existed within walls, with their own laws and customs, generally centered on...

mouth
In most cases, "mouth" in the Bible represents thought and logic, especially the kind of active, concrete thought that is connected with speech. The reason...

swords
A 'sword,' in the Word, signifies the truth of faith combating and the vastation of truth. In an opposite sense, it signifies falsity combating and...

lips
'A lip' signifies doctrine. A lip,' as in Isaiah 6:3, 7, signifies the interior parts of a person, consequently, internal worship, where adoration is grounded....

say
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

hear
'To hearken to father and mother,' as mentioned in Genesis 28:7, signifies obedience from affection. 'To hearken,' as mentioned in Genesis 30:22, signifies providence. See...

strength
Strength' relates truth and falsity. Strength,' as in Luke 10:27, signifies the will and understanding extended to extremes. Strength,' as in Revelation 1:6, signifies divine...

mercy
In regular language, "mercy" means being caring and compassionate toward those who are in poor states. That's a position we are all in relative to...

see
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

slay
'To slay a man to his wounding,' means extinguishing faith, and 'to slay a young man to his hurt,' signifies extinguishing charity, as in Genesis...

forget
To forget, in the internal sense, signifies nothing else but removal and apparent privation.

down
"Down" is used many different ways in natural language, and its spiritual meaning in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Phrases like "bowing down,"...

shield
'A shield' signifies defense which is trusted against evils and falsities. In respect to the Lord, it signifies defense, and in respect to people, confidence...

words
'Word,' as in Psalms 119:6-17, stands for doctrine in general. 'The Word,' as in Psalms 147:18, signifies divine good united with divine truth. 'Word,' as...

pride
'Pride' signifies the love of self.

wrath
Fury is a receding from good, and anger is a receding from truth.

know
In a general sense, men represent things of the intellect – facts, ideas, knowledge, everything from the deepest truths to the most pernicious falsities about...

Jacob
Jacob is told twice that his name will now be Israel. The first time is when he wrestles with an angel on his journey to...

Ends of the earth
(Isaiah 41:5) The isles and the ends of the earth, in the Word, signify those who are more remote from the truths and goods of...

earth
Is there any difference in meaning between “earth” and “ground”? At first it doesn’t seem so; both refer to the soil making up the land...

go
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

wander
'To wander,' as in Amos 4:8, signifies inquiry. 'To wander blind in the streets,' as in Lamentations 4:14, means not knowing good and truth.

satisfied
'What satisfies' is what nourishes the soul.

sing
Every affection of the heart has a tendency to produce singing, and so it will produce anything relating to singing. The affection of the heart...

morning
Morning comes with the rising of the sun, and the sun – which gives life to the earth with its warmth and light – represents...

day of
'Day of vengeance' signifies a state of damnation.

day
"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

Commentary

 

Exploring the Meaning of Psalms 59

     

By Rev. Julian Duckworth

Psalm 59 is one of several psalms that are based on recorded incidents in David’s life. In this case, it is from a time when David was hiding from King Saul, who had sent men to find him and kill him. The whole psalm is a statement that those who seek to do evil eventually find that it rebounds back on them. It has vivid and descriptive language which is full of illustrations – correspondences – about the nature and doing of evil. The psalm then closes with triumphant praise to God for His power, strength and protection.

All the psalms, at a deep level, also describe the states in the Lord during His life in the world -- in his glorification and also his deep temptations. This is very much the case in this psalm. The psalms also speak truly and accurately about our experiences in our own lives, during our regeneration, which involve temptations and determination on our part.

The opening verse calls to God four times to be delivered from enemies, each time in a different way. This undoubtedly shows the severity of the attack. Deliver me – defend me – deliver me – save me. This may sound like great fear, but it is also expressing a knowledge and deep awareness of the subtle ploys of evil to bring us down. The last of the four speaks of ‘bloodthirsty men’. Spiritually, this means the way in which evil – or hell – seeks to take away our faith, trust, vitality and confidence, our ‘blood’ which is our life. (Arcana Caelestia 4735)

The next several verses command us to see how evil seeks to destroy. This is so even though we have not deviated from our commitment to the Lord. Each set is countered with the Lord’s power to overcome or confound these attacks on us. The language used is very expressive: ‘They lie in wait for my life’, ‘They growl like a dog’, ‘They belch with their mouths’. When we really understand the nature of evil it has a carnal bestiality about it.

‘The Lord shall laugh at them’ (verse 8) reminds us of the truth that the Lord knows the intention and purpose of every evil and good state. Heaven knows hell because all those in heaven have experienced hell; Hell cannot comprehend heaven because it is driven by its own mad desires and knows nothing else. The Lord’s laughter at this is not contempt but Divine knowledge of its futility. (Arcana Caelestia 1093)

The image of a dog is helpful to show up the real nature of evil. A frightened dog is a danger because it is unpredictable. Its growls and slinking movements originate in its fear, as every evil intent does. (Arcana Caelestia 9231)

Verses 11 to 13 have the interesting request for evil not to be slain, not to be destroyed, but to be subdued, lest my people forget. This reminds us of the importance of maintaining a remembrance of evil and its tactics so that generations may never be overcome from ignorance or forgetting evil. For us, spiritually, the same principle of remembrance holds true. We need to remember that without the Lord’s work for our salvation we might well quickly plunge into selfish and ruthless thoughts, loves and actions. (New Jerusalem 163)

But evils that are seen need to be consumed -- consumed in the determination to overcome them and take away their power. While it is the Lord who fights for us in our regeneration and conflicts, we are to engage in resisting evils when they appear, so that we determine they shall not control us but we control them with the Lord with us. (New Jerusalem 194)

The close repetition in verses 14 and 15 of what was said earlier in verses 6 and 7 about the dogs growling and wandering the streets is the Word’s way of helping us to see that evil does not give up easily but returns to attack us with a new and subtler way of weakening us.
(see Heaven and Hell 580)

The last two verses focus entirely on the Lord, his power, his mercy, in defence of us: “For You are my strength, I will sing praises.” Whatever our experience or thoughts or emotions in our spiritual journey, our need is to come back and only focus on the Lord’s loving care for us and all of his creation. (Apocalypse Revealed 22)


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