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Psalm 59 - David Fled From Saul

INTRODUCTION: Some Bible translations have opening inscriptions identifying Psalms written by David, and the WEB version of the Bible uses easily recognized words in the inscription for this one. This Psalm may be the first one David wrote due to a direct threat to his life. David led Israel's troops to several victories after he had killed Goliath in their individual confrontation. The passages in 1 Samuel chapter 18 and following record that King Saul became jealous and afraid of the great favor David had gained in the eyes of the people because of his military victories. David became Saul's son-in-law by taking Michal as his wife, but Saul had turned from loving David to hating him and seeking his life.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the World English Bible.


Psalm 59 "1 [For the Chief Musician. To the tune of "Do Not Destroy." A poem by David, when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him.] Deliver me from my enemies, my God. Set me on high from those who rise up against me."

COMMENTS: Scripture does not provide the actual time of writing for this Psalm, but the events being referenced took place as much as a decade before David became king in Jerusalem and had the Ark of the Covenant brought into the city and placed into a tent for worship. It is interesting that when this Psalm was performed at the house of the LORD, it was set to a tune called "Do Not Destroy." Based on the opening inscription, David had composed the words as he appealed to the LORD for continued protection in relation to the specific time when he had to escape from the men sent by King Saul to wait to kill him when he came out from his house in the morning. David's wife Michael let him down through a window under the cover of night, and he fled without having any weapons to defend himself. He knew he needed special protection from the LORD since it seemed no one in Israel was standing with him. His escape began a long period of years when he continually evaded further threats to his life by King Saul.

BACKGROUND EVENTS: Samuel anointed David to be king in place of Saul without Saul's knowledge, and then returned to Rama [1Samuel 16:12-13]. David first served King Saul by playing the harp to calm his spirit, and he also was his armor bearer for an undefined period [1Samuel 16:18-23]. David's three eldest brothers became part of Saul's army, but David returned to his father to tend his sheep [1Samuel 17:13-15]. When David was sent by his father with supplies for his three brothers, he heard the challenge of Goliath [1Samuel 17:17-23]. After David killed Goliath in the name of the LORD, he went with the other soldiers to fight the Philistines. When he returned King Saul kept David in his personal service, and also allowed him to lead troops against the Philistines [1Samuel 17:57-18:5].

The next day after David had been praised higher than Saul in song by the women after another conquest, he played his harp for Saul as in the past. When Saul threw his javelin at David in anger, he escaped without injury [1 Samuel 18:6-11]. Saul was afraid of David because the LORD was with him and no longer with Saul. He made David commander over a thousand troops and he offered his daughter Merab in marriage, and subsequently his daughter Michal, each time with the hope that David would die in battle as he continued to fight the Philistines. After David took Michal as his wife, Saul knew the LORD was with him so was even more afraid of him, and was his enemy continually [1 Samuel 18:10-29].

When Saul told Jonathan his son, and all his servants, they should kill David, Jonathon reminded his father that David was valiant for Israel and had committed no sin against him and did not deserve death. Saul relented and Jonathon told David that his father had sworn he would not seek to kill him. David returned to serve King Saul and he again went out to fight against the Philistines. When David played his harp for Saul, Saul tried again to kill him with his javelin. David fled to his house, and this time Saul sent men to kill him in the morning. When David escaped that night he went to Samuel at Rama, and they went together to stay at Naioth, but Saul was told about David's location [1 Samuel 19:1-19].

David was able to escape from Naioth to find Jonathan and tell him that his father was once again trying to have him killed. Jonathan was surprised by this as he had been unaware that his father was not keeping the pledge not to harm David. He and David agreed to a plan to verify Saul's malicious intent. After Jonathan had a violent confrontation with his father about David, he let David know that staying away was now the only option even though David and Jonathon would remain loyal to one another [1 Samuel 20:1-42:].


Psalm 59 "2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity. Save me from the bloodthirsty men. 3 For, behold, they lie in wait for my soul. The mighty gather themselves together against me, not for my disobedience, nor for my sin, Yahweh. 4 I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me. Rise up, behold, and help me!"

COMMENTS: David had not only done nothing against King Saul, but he had always given him respect as the anointed of God to be king over Israel. When Saul offered his first daughter to be his wife, David expressed that he was unworthy to become the son-in-law of the king. Later David doubled the bride's price that Saul had set for the younger daughter Michal, and David took her to be his wife. That attitude of complete respect to the one chosen by the LORD to lead Israel is in contrast to the attitude of the men who waited to kill him, as they acted only as blood thirsty workers of sinfulness. David made his plea to the LORD because he had not been disobedient nor had he sinned. David knew he could not defend himself at that time against those among his own people who had gathered together to attack him, so he asked the LORD to rise up, take note of his plight, and help him.


Psalm 59 "5 You, Yahweh God of Armies, the God of Israel, rouse yourself to punish the nations. Show no mercy to the wicked traitors. Selah. 6 They return at evening, howling like dogs, and prowl around the city. 7 Behold, they spew with their mouth. Swords are in their lips, "For," they say, "who hears us?""

COMMENTS: David made his appeal to the LORD of the armies of heaven, who is also the God of the nation of Israel. He felt betrayed by those who planned to kill him because they were from the ranks of his fellow soldiers. He prayed that the LORD would deal with all such people who are not truly loyal to the God of Israel. Their disloyalty made them instead part of the various people groups who have no part in Israel. The three verses above provide a very vivid description of how David felt about those who would scheme to kill him. The following passage gives very scant information about those men. 1 Samuel 19 "11 Saul sent messengers to David's house, to watch him, and to kill him in the morning. Michal, David's wife, told him, saying, "If you don't save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed." 12 So Michal let David down through the window. He went, fled, and escaped."


Psalm 59 "8 But you, Yahweh, laugh at them. You scoff at all the nations. 9 Oh, my Strength, I watch for you, for God is my high tower. 10 My God will go before me with his loving kindness. God will let me look at my enemies in triumph."

COMMENTS: Even in this very undeserved turn of events, David did not question the LORD in this prayer to ask why it had happened, but he expressed his confidence that the LORD was in essence laughing at the foolishness of those who believed God does not know their actions. David called the LORD his strength and kept his sights on his trust that the LORD was his high tower of protection. In that time period a high tower provided a very effective vantage point for defense in battle, and when David used that metaphor he was expressing his complete trust in the safety provided by the LORD. David may not have known for sure where he would need to go, but he told the LORD in his prayer that he believed God would go before him in lovingkindness, and David would look upon his enemies in triumph.


Psalm 59 "11 Don't kill them, or my people may forget. Scatter them by your power, and bring them down, Lord our shield. 12 For the sin of their mouth, and the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride, for the curses and lies which they utter. 13 Consume them in wrath. Consume them, and they will be no more. Let them know that God rules in Jacob, to the ends of the earth. Selah."

COMMENTS: David acknowledged through his words that he knew the LORD would take action in steps that would provide the perfect balance between his just dealings with the wicked, and his examples for those who sought him to be their God. His prayer was that the LORD would first scatter the wicked in their pride and bring them down, while remaining a shield for his own people. They had sinned with their mouths in pride by uttering curses and lies. David prayed that the LORD would then consume them in his wrath and after that they would be no more. This may have been a reference to the final judgment of complete separation from God after their death. David wanted the glory to go to the LORD even to the ends of the earth that God truly rules in Jacob.


Psalm 59 "14 At evening let them return. Let them howl like a dog, and go around the city. 15 They shall wander up and down for food, and wait all night if they aren't satisfied. 16 But I will sing of your strength. Yes, I will sing aloud of your loving kindness in the morning. For you have been my high tower, a refuge in the day of my distress. 17 To you, my strength, I will sing praises. For God is my high tower, the God of my mercy."

COMMENTS: David was content to know that the unjust and ungodly men would continue to prowl about and would not stop unless they were satisfied by obtaining their desire. But he again expressed his confidence in the LORD as his high tower to afford sure protection to him. He would even sing aloud about the lovingkindness of the LORD in the light of morning. he would praise the LORD who was his strength, his incomparable high tower of protection, and the God of mercy.


In times of trouble let me consider you, LORD, as my high tower of refuge and protection. Give me a heart like that of David so I will have praise for you even when I cannot understand why I am facing difficulties in life as a Christian. David had trusted you so completely at this early point in his adult life, and had accomplished some unusual victories as he drew his strength from you. He humbly and faithfully served King Saul until the mounting threat to his life would no longer allow him to remain as one of the subjects in his kingdom. The various stages in my life when I have been disappointed by actions of fellow Christians pale by comparison to the magnitude David experienced. Guide me, LORD, to have the proper response when those times happen, and call me back to serve you when my own weakness in the flesh gives cause for other Christians to be disappointed in me. I believe that you can turn all events and conditions toward your ultimate design for those who trust you, and you will hold responsible those who live as if you have no knowledge of their actions. May I remember your lovingkindness and mercy so I will praise your name each time life seems to me to be unfair or too difficult for my own strength. Amen.

Published 22 August 2014