March 3: Psalm 59

March 3: Psalm 59

Personal trial seen in larger context

Common meter 86.86             Morning Song (a minor tune which fits this psalm beautifully), p. 30

Save me, my God! Protect from foes now rising like a flood.

Deliver me from evil men; save me from men of blood.

Behold, they for my life lay wait; fierce men against me run;

But not for my transgression, Lord, nor sin that I have done.

Though I am guiltless, still they run and preparation make.

Arouse Thyself to help and see! Lord God of hosts, awake!

Arise to punish nations all, Thou God of Is-ra-el.

No mercy show to any who deceitfully rebel.

At night they come; they snarl like dogs that round the city stray.

Their mouths stretch wide; their lips are swords: “For who will hear?” they say.

But Thou, O Lord, dost laugh at them; Thou dost all nations mock.

O Thou my Strength, I’ll hold to Thee; God is my fortress-rock.

In all His lovingkindness great my God will meet with me.

God will permit me on my foes to look triumphantly.

But lest my people should forget, do not the wicked slay,

But bring them down, O Lord, our Shield, and scatter them away.

Because of sin within their mouths, and words their lips let fly,

Let them be caught in their own pride because they curse and lie.

Destroy them in Thy wrath; destroy, that they may be no more.

Make known that God in Jacob rules, to earth’s most distant shore.

At night they come; they snarl like dogs that round the city stray.

They search for food but are not filled, and, hungry, there they stay.

But of Thy strength I’ll sing aloud, at morn Thy mercy praise;

For Thou has been my refuge high, my fort in evil days.

O Thou who art my strength, I will sing praises unto Thee;

For God is my defense, the God of grace He is to me.

The structure of Psalm 59 is divided into halves, each of which contains, near its end, the refrain: “You, O God, are my helper.” Each half also speaks of the psalmist’s enemies as a pack of vicious dogs threatening to devour him.  Psalm 59 is ultimately a prayerful description of those sufferings of the Lord Jesus, innocent but hounded by His enemies, blameless but pursued unto death, trusting in the righteousness of a righteous God to vindicate His innocence by the acceptance of that unique sacrifice by which, as the unblemished Lamb of God, He takes away the sin of the world. (Reardon, p. 115-116)

A prayer such as Psalm 59 enabled David to bear suffering, and it enables us to endure personal trials and suffering when seen in the larger cosmic setting of God’s conflict with evil nations, and the ultimate vindication of righteousness and defeat of evil. David’s voice is given in this psalm for God’s people in all times and all places to have a voice to pray in such times of suffering, or holocaust, or pogroms—a voice that empowers us not to despair, because we know that God sees and is our stronghold.

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