Text: Psalm 59
Observe Saul’s mad pursuit of David brings a lament, where David calls on God’s sure protection to deliver him from enemies out to kill him.
Section one is his cry for help in the face of bloodthirsty men, though he’s innocent (3b). He calls out to God to wake up and witness the strife, to spare none of those who treacherously plot evil (5b.) Section two expresses confidence that God is protecting him and will vindicate him, making an example of his persecutors. David will sing of His strength and steadfast love that protects.
But, God laughs (8;Psalm 2:4)! He knows evil is defeated and He is not intimidated. His laughter is not mocking but triumphant in its truth. Snarling dogs cannot overcome singing psalmist. As in laments, praise is the resolution.
Interpret The third of four ‘Do Not Destroy’ miktamim or Golden Psalms of David. This psalm refers to 1 Sam 19:11 where David escapes Saul's henchmen. The description of howling dogs (remember the lions of Psalm 57?) occurs twice, (6;14) where comparing them with animals is insulting. There’s something grimly familiar in sword-sharp words spewing out of their mouths with impunity, for ‘Who?’ they think ‘will hear us?”(7). Who, indeed?
Their damaging words, His instructive Word – vastly different in purpose and intent. God will not be so lightly taken. He is not indifferent to sin, and He is already the victor.
Apply Tim Keller points out, “Today’s media make it easier than ever to spew…words…sharp as swords (7). Unlike in written letters, we dash emails and texts off without weighing them. Unlike face-to-face confrontation, we blurt things out without fear of seeing the hurt or anger in the other person’s face. Because of anonymity we think no one can identify us. Words are weaponized more now than in David’s day. But every word – even an offhanded careless one (Mt 12:36) – indicates the heart’s contents (12:34) and will be judged by God. … we are saying ‘I didn’t really mean what I said.’ But you did. Watch and control words to know and shape your heart. (Jas. 3:1-12)”
Rant all we want, what’s the good if that’s all we do? Sure, there could be a certain nasty ‘satisfaction’ in tearing down others (would we do so well, in their situation?). David can ask God not to be gracious to his enemies (5, 13); even if we complain loudly and often to God, Jesus says, Love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you… Impossible but not difficult if, submitted to His grace, our hearts and minds slowly, slowly turn like rusty weathervanes to the bright morning star.
Ask Have I learned that God is my strength and shield? Have I directed my heart to Him, my eyes fixed on Him? Do I measure my words before I speak, especially in heated discussion?
Pray Lord, have mercy on me. Let me speak only what will build up and bless or let me be silent. Let me be neither overwhelmed by the evil around me nor hardened to it, but let me speak Your truth in love. Save me from the sins of my tongue and the character flaws that fuel them.
Sing Psalm 59 Poor Bishop Hooper
Sons of Korah
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.