Psalm 59:6
They return at evening: they make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city.
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(6) A dog.—This comparison to the gaunt half-starved wild dogs of an Eastern town has met us before (Psalm 22:16). The verbs should be rendered as futures here and in Psalm 59:15.

Make a noise.—Better, howl. (See Note Psalm 55:7.) An English traveller has described the noise made by the dogs of Constantinople: “The noise I heard then I shall never forget. The whole city rang with one vast riot. Down below me at Tophane; over about Stamboul; far away at Scutari; the whole 60,000 dogs that are said to overrun Constantinople appeared engaged in the most active extermination of each other without a moment’s cessation. The yelping, howling, barking, growling, and snarling were all merged into one uniform and continuous even sound” (Albert Smith, A Month at Constantinople, quoted from Spurgeon’s Treasury of David).

Psalm 59:6-7. They return at evening — Saul sent once to destroy him, and the messengers went back to inform him that he was ill; but they returned in the evening to bring him even in his bed. They make a noise like a dog — The Hebrew יהמו, jehemu, signifies the confused hum and noise of an assembled crowd. “The psalmist here compares the muttered threats of his enemies to the growlings or snarlings of a dog, ready to bite and tear any person; and the comparison is just and natural.” — Dodd. And go round about the city — When they did not find him in his own house, they sought for him in other parts of the city. They belch out with their mouths — Hebrew, יביעון, jabignun, they pour forth, namely, words, even sharp and bitter words, as the next clause explains it, such as threatenings, calumnies, and imprecations, and that abundantly and vehemently, as a fountain doth waters, as the word signifies. Swords are in their lips — Their expressions are as keen and mischievous as swords; their threats and reproaches are cruel and deadly. For who, they say, doth hear? — David doth not hear us, and God either does not hear, or not regard what we say. They vented their calumnies more freely and dangerously, because privately; so that none could refute them. 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.They return at evening - Many have rendered this in the imperative, as in Psalm 59:14, "Let them return at evening," etc. So Luther renders it, and so also DeWette. But the more natural and obvious interpretation is to render it in the indicative, as describing the manner in which his enemies came upon him - like dogs seeking their prey; fierce mastiffs, howling and ready to spring upon him. From the phrase "they return at evening," thus explained, it would seem probable that they watched their opportunity, or lay in wait, to secure their object; that having failed at first, they drew off again until evening, perhaps continuing thus for several days unable to accomplish their object.

They make a noise like a dog - So savages, after lurking stealthily all day, raise the war-whoop at night, and come upon their victims. It is possible that an assault of this kind "had" been attempted; or, more probably, it is a description of the manner in which they "would" make their assault, and of the spirit with which it would be done.

And go round about the city - The word "city" is used in a large sense in the Scriptures, and is often applied to places that we should now describe as "villages." Any town within the limits of which David was lodged, would answer to this term.

6, 7. They are as ravening dogs seeking prey, and as such,

belch out—that is, slanders, their impudent barkings.

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?

Psalm 59:6

"They return at evening." Like wild beasts that roam at night, they come forth to do mischief. If foiled in the light, they seek the more congenial darkness in which to accomplish their designs. They mean to break into the house in the dead of night. "They make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city." Howling with hunger for their prey, they sneak round and round the walls, prowling with stealthy footstep, and barking in unamiable concert. David compares his foes to Eastern dogs, despised, unowned, loathsome, degraded, lean, and hungry, and he represents them as howling with disappointment, because they cannot find the food they seek. Saul's watchmen and the cruel king himself must have raved and raged fiercely when they found the image and the pillow of goats' hair in the bed instead of David. Vain were their watchings, the victim had been delivered, and that by the daughter of the man who desired his blood. Go, ye dogs, to your kennels and gnaw your bones, for this good man is not meat for your jaws.

Psalm 59:7

"Behold, they belch out with their mouth." The noisy creatures ape so remarkable in their way, that attention is called to them with a behold. Ecce homines, might we not say, Ecce canes! Their malicious speech gushes from them as from a bubbling fountain. The wicked are voluble in slander; their vocabulary of abuse is copious, and as detestable as it is abundant. What torrents of wrathful imprecation will they pour on the godly! They need no prompters, their feelings force for themselves their own vent, and fashion their own expressions. "Swords are in their lips." They speak daggers. Their words pierce like rapiers, and cleave like cutlasses. As the cushion of a lion's paw conceals his claw, so their soft ruby lips contain bloody words. "For who, say they, doth hear?" They are free from all restraint, they fear no God in heaven, and the government on earth is with them. When men have none to call them to account, there is no accounting for what they will do. He who neither fears God nor regards man sets out upon errands of oppression with gusto, and uses language concerning it of the most atrociously cruel sort. David must have been in a singular plight when he could hear the foul talk and hideous braggings of Saul's black guards around the house. After the style in which a Cavalier would have cursed a Puritan, or Claverhouse a Covenanter, the Saulites swore at the upstart whom the king's majesty had sent them to arrest. David called them dogs, and no doubt a pretty pack they were, a cursed cursing company of curs. When they said, "Who doth hear?" God was listening, and this David knew, and therefore took courage.

They return at evening, after they have been busy all day, either in plotting against me, or in hunting after me. In the evening, when they should compose themselves to rest, they return to their old trade of watching for me which they did at this time all the night long, 1 Samuel 19:11.

They make a noise like a dog; either when he is hungry and pursuing his prey, and howls for meat; or when he is enraged, and grins and snarls where he cannot or dare not bite. And go round about the city: when they did not find him in his own house, they sought for him in other houses and parts of the city, where they supposed him to lurk. They return at evening,.... It was at evening Saul sent messengers to watch David's house, that they might take him in the morning; but missing him, perhaps after a fruitless search for him all the day, returned at evening to watch his house again; or they might come, and go and return the first evening. So it was night when Judas set out from Bethany, to go to the chief priests at Jerusalem, to covenant with them, and betray his master; and it was in the night he did betray him, after he had eaten the passover at evening with him. Or, "let them return" (p), as in Psalm 59:14; with shame and confusion, as David's enemies, when they found nothing but an image in the bed, which they reported to Saul; and as Judas returned to the chief priests with confusion and horror. Or, "they shall return" (q); which being prophetically said, had its accomplishment, both in the enemies of David and of Christ; and will be true of all the wicked, who will return from their graves and live again, and give an account of themselves at the evening of the day of the Lord, which is a thousand years; in the morning of which day the dead in Christ will rise, but the rest will not rise until the end of the thousand years;

they make a noise like a dog: which is a very noisy creature, and especially some of them, which are always yelping and barking; though indeed there are some that are naturally dumb, and cannot bark: such there are in the West Indies, as we are told (r); and to which the allusion is in Isaiah 56:10; and which may serve to illustrate the passage there: but those referred to here are of another kind; and this noise of theirs either respects their bark in the night, as some dogs do continually, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi; or to their howling, as the Syriac and Arabic versions. Wicked men are compared to dogs, Matthew 7:6, Revelation 22:15; and particularly the enemies of Christ, Psalm 22:16, in allusion either to hunting dogs, who make a noise all the while they are pursuing after the game; or hungry ravenous ones, who make a noise for want of food; and this character agrees not only with the Roman soldiers, who were Gentiles, and whom the Jews used to call by this name, Matthew 15:26; but the Jews also, even their principal men, as well as the dregs of the people, who were concerned in the death of Christ; and may be truly said to make a noise like dogs when they cried Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas, crucify him, crucify him; for which they were instant and pressing with loud voices, and their voices prevailed, Luke 23:18;

and go round about the city; as Saul's messengers, very probably, when they found David had made his escape from his house, searched the city round in quest of him; and there was much going about the city of Jerusalem at the time of our Lord's apprehension, trial, and condemnation; after he was taken in the garden: they went with him first to Annas's house, then to Caiaphas's, then to Pilate's, and then to Herod's, and back again to Pilate's, and from thence out of the city to Golgotha. The allusion is still to dogs, who go through a city barking (s) at persons, or in quest of what they can get; so informers and accusers may be called city dogs, as some sort of orators are by Demosthenes (t).

(p) "revertantur", Gejerus, Schmidt. (q) "Convertentur", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus; so Sept. Syr. Ar. (r) P. Martyr. Decad. Ocean decad. 1. l. 3. & de Insulis Occid. Ind. Vid. Iguatii Epist. ad Eph. p. 124. (s) . Theocrit. Idyll. 2. v. 35. (t) Apud Salmuth. in Pancirol. Memorub. Rer. par. 2. tit. 2. p. 97.

They return at evening: they make a noise like a {e} dog, and go round about the city.

(e) He compares their cruelty to hungry dogs showing that they are never weary in doing evil.

6. He compares his enemies to a troop of savage and hungry dogs (Psalm 22:16) such as still infest Oriental towns, in the day-time sleeping in the sun or slinking lazily about, but as night comes on collecting together, and traversing the streets in search of food, howling dismally. P.B.V. grin means ‘snarl.’ Cp. Shakespeare, 2 Hen. VI, iii. 1. 18, quoted in Wright’s Bible Word-Book,

“Small curs are not regarded when they grin;

But great men tremble when the lion roars.”

6–9. Be his enemies never so threatening and insolent, he can trust in God.Verses 6-9. - "Here a new stanza begins" (Cheyne). The "enemies" of ver. 1 and the "workers of iniquity" of ver. 2 are more elaborately portrayed. First they are represented as "dogs" - such hideous, half-wild dogs as frequent Eastern cities, which sleep during the greater part of the day, and rove about in packs at night - unclean, horrid, loathsome animals (ver. 6). Then they appear as men - abusive, slanderous, godless (ver. 7). In conclusion, appeal is made to God against them. He will "laugh them to scorn" (ver. 8); and he is a sure Defence against all their efforts (ver. 9). Verse 6. - They return at evening. Having traced David to his house, they disperse for a time, but "return" again at evening, and take up their watch (1 Samuel 19:11). They make a noise like a dog; i.e. snarl and growl, quarrelling more or less among themselves during the night time. And go round about the city. Either wander vaguely about, as dogs do for prey, or patrol the walls and gates to see that David does not quit the city, and so escape them. Finally, we have a view of the results of the judicial interposition of God. The expression made use of to describe the satisfaction which this gives to the righteous is thoroughly Old Testament and warlike in its tone (cf. Psalm 68:24). David is in fact king, and perhaps no king ever remained so long quiet in the face of the most barefaced rebellion, and checked the shedding of blood, as David did at that time. If, however, blood must nevertheless flow in streams, he knows full well that it is the blood of the partisans of his deluded son; so that the men who were led the further astray in their judgment concerning him, the more inactive he remained, will at last be compelled to confess that it does really repay one to be just, and that there is really one higher than the high ones (Ecclesiastes 5:7[8]), a deity (אלהים) above the gods (אלים( sdog) who, though not forthwith, will nevertheless assuredly execute judgment in the earth. אך here, as in Job 18:21; Isaiah 45:14, retains its originally affirmative signification, which it has in common with אכן. אלהים is construed with the plural (Ges. 112, rem. 3), as is frequently the case, e.g., 2 Samuel 7:23 (where, however, the chronicler, in 1 Chronicles 17:21, has altered the older text). This is not because the heathen are speaking (Baur), but in order to set the infinite majesty and omnipotence of the heavenly Judge in contrast with these puffed-up "gods."
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