Psalm 59:3
For, see, they lie in wait for my soul: the mighty are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) For, lo, they lie in wait . . .—Better, for look, they have laid an ambush.

Mighty.—Perhaps with the idea of insolence in their strength.

Not for my transgression . . .—Better, Without transgression or fault of mine, as in next verse.

Psalm 59:3. They lie in wait for my soul — For my life, to take it away. The mighty are gathered against me — They are all mighty, men of honour and estates, and interest in the court and country. They are in a confederacy, united by a league; and actually gathered together against me; combined both in consultation and action. Not for my transgression, nor for my sin — Without any provocation or cause given by me. I am a sinner before thee, O Lord, but I have done them no injury. It was a noble vindication of David’s innocence, in that he could, in the most private retirement, and upon the most serious and deliberate reflection, thus solemnly appeal to God, that he was not chargeable with the least perfidy, wickedness, or crime, which could excite the hatred of his enemies, and give occasion to Saul to pursue him with such eagerness and malice, to his destruction.59:1-7 In these words we hear the voice of David when a prisoner in his own house; the voice of Christ when surrounded by his merciless enemies; the voice of the church when under bondage in the world; and the voice of the Christian when under temptation, affliction, and persecution. And thus earnestly should we pray daily, to be defended and delivered from our spiritual enemies, the temptations of Satan, and the corruptions of our own hearts. We should fear suffering as evil-doers, but not be ashamed of the hatred of workers of iniquity. It is not strange, if those regard not what they themselves say, who have made themselves believe that God regards not what they say. And where there is no fear of God, there is nothing to secure proper regard to man.For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul - They lie in wait as wild beasts do for their prey, ready to spring upon it. The word used here is often employed to denote the act of lying in ambush; of watching in secret places to spring upon a victim: Judges 9:32; Judges 21:20; Psalm 10:9. The word "soul" here means "life." They lie in ambush that they may kill me.

The mighty are gathered against me - Strong men; hostile men; cruel men. Saul would employ on this occasion not the weak, the cowardly, the faint-hearted, but men of courage and strength; men who were unscrupulous in their character; men who would not be likely to be moved by entreaty, or turned from their purpose by compassion. It is not mere "strength" that is here referred to, but that kind of strength or courage which can be employed in a desperate enterprise, and which is suited to accomplish any scheme of wickedness, however daring or difficult.

Not for my transgression, nor for my sin - This is done not on account of my violating the laws of the land, nor because it is alleged that I am a sinner against God. David was conscious that he did not deserve this treatment from the hand of man. He bad been guilty of no wrong against Saul that exposed him to just punishment. He carried with him the consciousness of innocence as to any crime that could have made this treatment proper; and he felt that it was all the result of unjust suspicions. It was not improper for him to refer to this in his prayer; for, however he might feel that he was a sinner in the sight of God, yet he felt that a great and grievous wrong was done him by man; and he prayed, therefore, that a righteous God would interpose. See Psalm 7:8, note; Psalm 17:2, note; Psalm 35:24, note; Psalm 43:1, note.

2. (Compare Ps 5:5; 6:8).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.

Psalm 59:3

"For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul." They were in ambuscade for the good man's life. He knew their design and cried to God to be rescued from it. Like wild beasts they crouched, and waited to make the fatal spring; but their victim used effectual means to baffle them, for he laid the matter before the Lord. While the enemy lies waiting in the posture of a beast, we wait before God in the posture of prayer, for God waits to be gracious to us and terrible towards our foes. "The mighty are gathered against me." None of them were absent from the muster when a saint was to be murdered. They were too fond of such sport to be away. The men at arms who ought to have been fighting their country's battles, are instead thereof hunting a quiet citizen; the gigantic monarch is spending all his strength to slay a faithful follower. "Not for my transgressions, nor for my sin, O Lord." He appeals to Jehovah that he had done no ill. His only fault was, that he was too valiant and too gracious, and was, besides, the chosen of the Lord, therefore the envious king could not rest till he had washed his hands in the blood of his too popular rival. We shall always find it to be a great thing to be innocent; if it does not carry our cause before an earthly tribunal, it will ever prove the best of arguments in the court of conscience, and a standing consolation when we are under persecution. Note the repetition of his declaration of integrity. David is sure of his innocence. He dares repeat the plea.

Psalm 59:4

"They run and prepare themselves without my fault." They are all alive and active, they are swift to shed blood. They prepare and use their best tactics; they besiege me in my house, and lay their ambuscades as for some notable enemy. They come up fully armed to the attack and assail me with all the rigour and skill of a host about to storm a castle; and all for no cause, but out of gratuitous malice. So quick are they to obey their cruel master, that they never stay to consider whether their errand is a good one or not; they run at once, and buckle on their harness as they run. To be thus gratuitously attacked is a great grief. To a brave man the danger causes little distress of mind compared with the injustice to which he is subjected. It was a cruel and crying shame that such a hero as David should be hounded down as if he were a monster, and beset in his house like a wild beast in its den. "Awake to help me, and behold." When others go to sleep, keep thou watch, O God. Put forth thy might. Arouse thee from thine inaction. Only look at thy servant's sad condition and thy hand will be sure to deliver me. We see how thorough was the Psalmist's faith in the mercy of his Lord, for he is satisfied that if the Lord do but look on his case it will move his active compassion.

Without any provocation or cause given them by me. I am a sinner before thee, O Lord, but I have done them no injury. For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul,.... As the men did that watched his house, when Saul sent to kill him; so the Jews sought and lay in wait to take away the life of Christ; and very often was it the case of the Apostle Paul, that he was in danger of his life, through the lying in wait of the Jews; so Satan makes use of cunning devices, stratagems, and wiles, to ruin the souls of God's people, if possible; and false teachers lie in wait to deceive them. The emphasis lies upon the word "soul", which is so precious, and the redemption of which has cost so much, even the blood of Christ;

the mighty are gathered against me; or, "dwell by me"; see Psalm 56:6; around his house, the soldiers that Saul sent; and such were the enemies of Christ, Psalm 69:4; the chief priests, Scribes, and elders, men of great authority and influence among the people; the kings of the earth and rulers, Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and people of the Jews, Acts 4:26; yea, Satan, and his principalities and powers; and who are also those against whom the saints wrestle, and would be too mighty for them, were it not that God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and the holy angels, are on their side;

not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O Lord; as the cause of such usage and treatment. David was not without original sin, in which he was conceived and born; nor without inward corruptions, of which he often complained; nor without actual transgressions, and some very gross ones, and which he owned and confessed, and prayed for the pardon of: but in the case of Saul there was no transgression nor iniquity in him, as he declared to him himself, and appeals to God for the truth of it, 1 Samuel 24:11. One of the words here used signifies "rebellion" (m); of this he was not guilty; he never entered into any treasonable measures, nor committed any treasonable practices, nor conspired against the life and crown of his sovereign; in this respect he was quite clear and innocent. Christ, his antitype, was entirely without sin, without original or actual transgression; he had no sin in his nature, nor committed any in his life; he had none inherent in him, only the sins of his people imputed to him; and therefore the usage he met with from men was very cruel and unjust. And as for the saints, though they are not free from sin, original and actual, yet in the case for which they suffer reproach, and are persecuted by men, they are not criminal; they have done nothing to deserve such usage; they do not suffer as evildoers, but as Christians, 1 Peter 4:15.

(m) "rebellionem meam", Gejerus, Michaelis.

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

(c) For I am innocent toward them, and have not offended them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3, 4. For, lo, strong ones have laid wait for my life,

They gather themselves together against me,

For no transgression or sin of mine, Jehovah.

For no iniquity (of mine) they run and station themselves:

Arouse thee to meet me, and behold.

Observe the tenses. Secret plots (cp. Proverbs 1:11; Micah 7:2) have long been going on: now they are preparing a more open attack (Psalm 54:3; Psalm 56:6). In this crisis he calls upon God to arouse Himself from His apparent slumber of indifference (Psalm 44:23), and ‘meet him’ as with an army of relief. For ‘behold’ (lit. see) cp. Psalm 10:14; Psalm 25:18; Psalm 31:7.

The transgression, sin, iniquity, of which he protests his innocence, might refer to offences against God, for which this persecution might have been sent as a punishment (1 Samuel 26:19); but more probably they refer to offences against his persecutors. Their hostility is unprovoked. Exactly the same words are used by David in protesting his innocence of treasonable designs against Saul, 1 Samuel 20:1; 1 Samuel 24:11.Verse 3. - For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul. The emissaries of Saul were sent to David's house "to watch him, and to slay him in the morning" (1 Samuel 19:11). This seems to be the "lying in wait" intended. Warned by his wife, Michal, Saul's daughter, David fled from his house during the night through a window, and so saved himself (1 Samuel 19:12). The mighty (or, the strong ones) are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O Lord. Not in consequence of any wrong that I have done. It is noted, as characteristic of David's early psalms, that he protests his absolute innocence in them. The verb הרס is used much in the same way in 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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