The Bible


Psalms 59



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.




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)