Saturday, April 7, 2012

Deliverance from Plotting Enemies

[To the chief Musician, Altas'chith, Michtam of David; when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him]

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.

—Psalm 59 KJV Bible

This is a psalm of David. In the song, David appeals to God's help, describes his dangerous situation, asks for judgment on his enemies, and gives praise to God.

The historical background for this psalm is 1 Samuel 19:11-12. King Saul, in a murderous fit, had sent messengers to watch David's house, with the intent of killing him in the morning. But David's wife Michal realized what was happening. She convinced David to allow her to lower him to the ground through a window that night, enabling David to escape.

This is one of the imprecatory psalms. An imprecation is the act of calling down a curse that invokes evil. The imprecatory psalms contain an invocation of judgment, calamity, or curse against one's enemies who are viewed as enemies of God. The Major Imprecatory Psalms include psalms 69 and 109. Others are psalms 7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 79, 109, 137, and 139 (some include in this list psalms 5, 6, 11, 12, 35, 37, 40, 52, 54, 56, 83, and 143). It is thought that the purposes of these imprecations are, depending on the psalm, to do one or more of the following: (1) to demonstrate God's just and righteous judgment toward the wicked, (2) to show the authority of God over the wicked, (3) to lead the wicked to seek the Lord, or (4) to cause the righteous to praise God. In the New Testament, Jesus quoted from them in John 15:25 (Psalms 35 and 69), the Apostle John references Psalm 69 in John 2:17, and the Apostle Paul quoted from Psalm 69 in his Letter to the Romans (Romans 11:9-10; Romans 15:3).

The psalm superscription says that it is to be set to " Altas'chith"—Hebrew, meaning “do not destroy.” It is thought to be the title of a melody to which the psalm was to be performed. The reference appears in Psalms 57, 58, 59 and 75.

The psalm superscription states it is a “Mikhtam.” The Hebrew meaning is disputed. Some suggest it is derived from a verb meaning “to cover,” and may indicate psalms dealing with protection (covering) from one’s enemies or psalms recited silently—-for example, with lips covering the mouth. Others translate the term as "golden," i.e. precious. In the Septuagint it is translated by a word meaning "tablet inscription." Still others suggest the term is a musical notation of some kind. This word is used in the superscriptions of Psalms 16 and 56 through 60.

The Hebrew "selah" is used in verses 5 and 13 of the psalm. The word is thought to be a musical notation to the choir director and musicians. It loosely translates as a break in the song or an instruction to pause and reflect, perhaps with a musical interlude. Some translators suggest the phrase "stop and listen." Others say that a more concise translation would be "let those with eyes see and with ears hear." The word "selah" has been compared to the word "amen" in that it stresses to the listener the importance of the preceding passage. The word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms.

In verses 1 through 5, David appeals to God for help. David explains that enemies have been sent to ambush and kill him. They are not trying to execute David for a wrong committed, but because they are following the orders of another—Saul.

In verses 6 through 10, David describes his dangerous situation. Apparently, the enemies spread rumors about David around town. They then camped outside David's house and verbally accused David, trying to lure him outside into a fight. Death in such a way would probably free Saul from any legal responsibility.

In verses 11 through 15, David asks for judgment on his enemies. He asks that the punishment be so great as to teach the people the seriousness of sin, especially sins of speech.

In verses 16 through 17, David gives praise to God. David sings of the everlasting, covenant love of God--the Hebrew "hesed"--and of God's defense from the wicked.

Father, when enemies rise against me and accuse me wrongly, be my defense. Save me from their schemes and use me for Your service. I thank you and I praise You.


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