Deliver me from my enemies, O my God: defend me from them that rise up against me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Defend me.—Literally, set me on high, i.e., place me on some lofty and secure height.Psalm 59:1. Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God — Thou art God, and canst deliver me; my God, under whose protection I have put myself; and thou hast promised me to be a God all-sufficient, and therefore in honour and faithfulness thou wilt deliver me. He chiefly means Saul by his enemies; but speaks in the plural number, out of reverence to his king, and that he might, as far as he could with truth, lay the blame of these odious practices on those that were about him.Psalm 18:48. This prayer was offered when the spies sent by Saul surrounded the house of David. They had come to apprehend him, and it is to be presumed that they had come in sufficient numbers, and with sufficient power, to effect their object. Their purpose was not to break in upon him in the night, but to watch their opportunity, when he went forth in the morning, to slay him 1 Samuel 19:11, and there seemed no way for him to escape. Of their coming, and of their design, Michal, the daughter of Saul, and the wife of David, seems to have been apprised - perhaps by someone of her father's family. She informed David of the arrangement, and assured him that unless he should escape in the night, he would be put to death in the morning. She, therefore, let him down through a window, and he escaped, 1 Samuel 19:12. It was in this way that he was in fact delivered; in this way that his prayer was answered. A faithful wife saved him.
Defend me from them that rise up against me - Margin, as in Hebrew, "Set me on high." The idea is that of placing him, as it were, on a tower, or on an eminence which would be inaccessible. These were common places of refuge or defense. See the notes at Psalm 18:2.
Ps 59:1-17. See on Ps 57:1, title, and for history, 1Sa 19:11, &c. The scope is very similar to that of the fifty-seventh: prayer in view of malicious and violent foes, and joy in prospect of relief.
1. defend me—(Compare Margin).
2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men.
"Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God." They were all round the house with the warrant of authority, and a force equal to the carrying of it out. He was to be taken dead or alive, well or ill, and carried to the slaughter. No prowess could avail him to break the cordon of armed men, neither could any eloquence stay the hand of his bloody persecutor. He was taken like a bird in a net, and no friend was near to set him free. Unlike the famous starling, he did not cry, "I can't get out," but his faith uttered quite another note. Unbelief would have suggested that prayer was a waste of breath, but not so thought the good man, for he makes it his sole resort. He cries for deliverance and leaves ways and means with his God. "Defend me from them that rise up against me." Saul was a king, and therefore sat in high places, and used all his authority to crush David; the persecuted one therefore beseeches the Lord to set him on high also, only in another sense. He asks to be lifted up, as into a lofty tower, beyond the reach of his adversary. Note how he sets the title "My God," over against the word "mine enemies." This is the right method of effectually catching and quenching the fiery darts of the enemy upon the shield of faith. God is our God, and therefore deliverance and defence are ours.
"Deliver me from the workers of iniquity." Saul was treating him very unjustly, and besides that was pursuing a tyrannical and unrighteous course towards others, therefore David the more vehemently appeals against him. Evil men were in the ascendant at court, and were the ready tools of the tyrant, against these also he prays. Bad men in a bad cause may be pleaded against without question. When a habitation is beset by thieves, the good man of the house rings the alarm-bell; and in these verses we may hear it ring out loudly, "deliver me," "defend me," "deliver me,... save me." Saul had more cause to fear than David had, for the invincible weapon of prayer was being used against him, and heaven was being aroused to give him battle. "And save me from bloody men." As David remembers how often Saul had sought to assassinate him, he knows what he has to expect from that quarter and from the king's creatures and minions who were watching for him. David represents his enemy in his true colours before God; the bloodthirstiness of the foe is a fit reason for the interposition of the righteous God, for the Lord abhors all those who delight in blood. THE ARGUMENT
defend me from them that rise up against me; or, "set me on high above them" (l); out of their reach, as David was protected from Saul and his men, who rose up in an hostile manner against him; and as Christ was, when raised from the dead, and exalted at his Father's right hand; and as the saints are in great safety, dwelling on high, where their place of defence is the munition of rocks; and therefore it matters not who rise up against them.<
(a) Or, a certain tune.
(b) Though his enemies were even at hand to destroy him, yet he assures himself that God had ways to deliver him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1. Deliver me] Song of Solomon 7:1, and frequently.
defend me] Better, as R.V., set me on high (Psalm 20:1; Psalm 91:14). It is the verb from which is derived the epithet ‘high tower’ so often applied to God (Psalm 59:9; Psalm 59:16-17; Psalm 18:2; Psalm 46:7; Psalm 46:11).
1–5. The Psalmist prays for deliverance from the enemies who are bent on taking his life, pleading his innocence, and appealing to God to punish all injustice.Verse 1. - Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God. This is David's almost constant cry (see Psalm 7:1; Psalm 17:13; Psalm 22:20; Psalm 25:20; Psalm 31:1, 2, 15; Psalm 35:17; Psalm 40:13; Psalm 43:1; Psalm 69:18; Psalm 70:1, 4; Psalm 109:21, etc.). He has enemies, both domestic and foreign. In his early youth Saul becomes his enemy out of jealousy; then most of Saul's courtiers espouse their master's quarrel, he has enemies at the court of Achish; enemies in his family, even among his sons, as Absalom enemies among his counsellors, as Ahithophel; foreign enemies on all sides of him - Philistines, Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, Amalekites, Syrians, Mesopotamians, etc. Against all of them he invokes God's aid, and by God's aid he triumphs over all. Defend me from them that rise up against me; or, set me on high above them (Kay, Revised Version). David's domestic foes "rose up against him," no less than his foreign foes; made war on him; sought to seize his person, and put him to death. Psalm 58:7 as ἀράσσειν (e.g., Iliad, xiii. 577, ἀπὸ δὲ τρυφάλειαν ἄραξεν), which presents a similar onomatope. The form ימּאסוּ is, as in Job 7:5, equals ימּסּוּ. The Jewish expositors, less appropriately, compare צנאכם, Numbers 32:24, and בּזאוּ equals בּזזוּ, Isaiah 18:2, Isaiah 18:7; שׁאסיך, Chethb, Jeremiah 30:16, and ראמה, Zechariah 14:10, more nearly resemble it. The treading (bending) of the bow is here, as in Psalm 64:4, transferred to the arrows ( equals כּונן, Psalm 11:2): he bends and shoots off his arrows, they shall be as though cut off in the front, i.e., as inoperative as if they had no heads or points (כּמו as in Isaiah 26:18). In Psalm 58:9 follow two figures to which the apprecatory "let them become" is to be supplied. Or is it perhaps to be rendered: As a snail, which Thou causest to melt away, i.e., squashest with the foot (תּמס, as in Psalm 39:12, fut. Hiph. of מסה equals מסס), let him perish? The change of the number does not favour this; and according to the usage of the language, which is fond of construing הלך with gerunds and participles, and also with abstract nouns, e.g., הלך תּם, הלך קרי, the words תּמס יהלך belong together, and they are also accented accordingly: as a snail or slug which goes along in dissolution, goes on and dissolves as it goes (תּמס after the form תּבל form בּלל
(Note: In the Phoenician, the Cyprian copper mine Ταμασσός appears to have taken its name from תמס, liquefactio (Levy, Phnizische Studien, iii.7).)).
The snail has received its name from this apparent dissolving into slime. For שׁבּלוּל (with Dag. dirimens for שׁבלוּל) is the naked slimy snail or slug (Targum, according to ancient conception, זחיל תּבללא "the slimeworm"), from שׁבלל, to make wet, moist.
(Note: "God has created nothing without its use," says the Talmud, B. Shabbath 77b; "He has created the snail (שׁבלול לכתית) to heal bruises by laying it upon them:" cf. Genesis Rabba, ch. 51 init., where שׁבלול is explained by לימצא, סיליי, כיליי, κογχύλη, σέσιλος, limax. Abraham b. David of Fez, the contemporary of Saadia, has explained it in his Arabico-Hebrew Lexicon by אלחלזון, the slug. Nevertheless this is properly the name of the snail with a house (נרתיק), Talmudic חלּזון, and even at the present day in Syria and Palestine Arab. ḥlzûn (which is pronounced ḥalezôn); whereas שׁבלול, in conformity with the etymon and with the figure, is the naked snail or slug. The ancient versions perhaps failed to recognise this, because the slug is not very often to be seen in hot eastern countries; but שׁבלול in this signification can be looked upon as traditional. The rendering "a rain-brook or mountain-torrent (Arabic seil sâbil) which running runs away," would, to say nothing more, give us, as Rosenmller has already observed, a figure that has been made use of already in Psalm 58:8.)
In the second figure, the only sense in which נפל אשׁת belong together is "the untimely birth of a woman;" and rather than explain with the Talmud (B. Med katan 6b) and Targum (contrary to the accents): as an abortion, a mole,
(Note: The mole, which was thought to have no eyes, is actually called in post-biblical Hebrew אשׁת, plur. אישׁות (vid., Keelim xxi. 3).)
one would alter אשׁת into אשׁה. But this is not necessary, since the construct form אשׁת is found also in other instances (Deuteronomy 21:11; 1 Samuel 28:7) out of the genitival relation, in connection with a close coordinate construction. So here, where בּל־הזוּ שׁמשׁ, according to Job 3:16; Ecclesiastes 6:3-5, is an attributive clause to נפל אשׁת (the falling away of a woman equals abortions), which is used collectively (Ew. 176, b). The accentuation also harmonizes here with the syntactic relation of the words. In Psalm 58:10, אטד (plural in African, i.e., Punic, in Dioscorides atadi'n) is the rhamnus or buckthorn, which, like רתם, the broom, not only makes a cheerful crackling fire, but also produces an ash that retains the heat a long time, and is therefore very useful in cooking. The alternative כּמו - כּמו signifies sive, sive, whether the one or the other. חי is that which is living, fresh, viz., the fresh, raw meat still having the blood in it, the opposite of מבשּׁל (1 Samuel 2:15); חרון, a fierce heat or fire, here a boiling heat. There is no need to understand חרון metonymically, or perhaps as an adjective equals charrôn, of boiled meat: it is a statement of the condition. The suffix of ישׁערנּוּ, however, refers, as being neuter, to the whole cooking apparatus, and more especially to the contents of the pots. The rendering therefore is: whether raw or in a state of heat, i.e., of being cooked through, He (Jahve) carries it away as with a whirlwind. Hengstenberg rightly remarks, "To the raw meat correspond the immature plots, and to the cooked the mature ones." To us, who regard the Psalm as belonging to the time of Absalom, and not, like Hengstenberg, to the time of Saul, the meat in the pots is the new kingship of Absalom. The greater the self-renunciation with which David at that time looked on at the ripening revolt, disclaiming all action of his own, the stronger the confidence with which he expected the righteous interposition of God that did actually follow, but (as he here supposes possible) not until the meat in the pot was almost done through; yet, on the other side, so quickly, that the pots had scarcely felt the crackling heat which should fully cook the meat.
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