God’s Justice: His Time, Place, Punishment
1 Samuel 19:1–24; Psalm 59:6–17
Samuel Lesson #073
November 22, 2016
“Father, we are thankful for this opportunity we have as believers to gather together to encourage one another by our presence and by the study of Your Word. That we might focus upon that which You have revealed to us. That God the Holy Spirit can use it to train us to focus upon You, and to face the circumstances, and the difficulties, and challenges, and tests of life through Your Word.
“We have these patterns laid out for us, especially in the psalms. As we continue our study in Psalm 59 tonight, we pray that You would challenge each of us with the way in which David brings his petition and his needs before You, and his confidence that he expresses in Your provision that will give him victory over the circumstances, whether he would see them in his time or not. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
A couple of weeks ago we went through 1 Samuel 19 where Saul has sent his execution squads to David’s home to wait outside the house in order to capture him, kill him when he comes home, or when he left the house.
During that time David penned a psalm. This is the first psalm that we have studied as we go through 1 Samuel, but that will be the process as we’ll study the 12 or so psalms that David wrote in context.
What I have entitled this, because we spent the last two weeks in Psalm 59 is: “God is our safe space,” just to make it contemporary, because He is. That’s what this is all about, He is our defense, He is our high tower, our refuge. Again, and again, and again in the psalms that is what we get.
As I pointed out last time, I think this is a great tool to use when we are talking with those who are younger and those who are concerned about these things. We have to figure out where we are going to hit points of commonality in communicating to those who don’t know the Lord. They don’t have hope.
They’re scared to death at every little thing because they have never been taught anything about how to really find stability in life on the basis of the Word of God. They’ve never heard about it; they don’t know anything about it. What we learn is that stability only comes from the Word of God.
Part of the problem that David faces is injustice. There are a lot of different kinds of injustice in the world because the world is the devil’s system. We can have injustice in terms of personal relationships. We can face injustice due to systems. We can face injustice due to people who are in authority, who are evil or wicked. We can face injustice within families where you have people who are abusive or hostile. There is just a whole variety of different kinds of circumstances.
So we cry out to God for justice much like in Psalm 73 where you have the question frequently asked, not only there, but other places, How long, O Lord, will the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer?
We see that also as part of the theme in Psalm 37, and it seems at times, when we look around, that God must be asleep at the switch somewhere because you have minor injustices to massive injustices. For example, the Holocaust. I know in talking to a number of my Jewish friends that they just can’t get a handle on the sovereignty of God, or the providence of God, that would allow something of that magnitude to take place.
’Those are significant intellectual stumbling blocks that people have to believing and trusting in God. We have to learn to talk people through these things, asking the right questions, getting them to think through those situations.
We covered the first five verses last time and in the rest of the psalm we see David’s attitude, his focus on God and His power, and his confidence that God will bring justice one way or another.
So I titled this lesson for the rest the psalm, “God’s Justice. It’s His time, His place, and His punishment.” God in His omniscience knows just what the right punishment will be. He knows all the facts, all the factors. When we think somebody is getting away with it, we have to understand they’re not.
They may get away with it today. They may get away with it next week, next year, five years, ten years, maybe this life. But ultimately a reckoning will come, even if they’re a believer. There will be problems at the Judgment Seat of Christ for such people. Not that they will lose their salvation, but they will lose rewards and there will be shame at the Judgment Seat of Christ according to 1 John 4.
God chooses the time. He knows the best time, you don’t, I don’t. We wish it was a time when we can see it, don’t we? We want to be a fly on the wall, and we want to watch it. But He knows the right time, He knows the right place, and He knows the right punishment. We just have to do what David does here and what David does in Psalm 37 and that is we put it in the Lord’s hands.
That’s what we are covering in 1 Peter on Thursday night.
I pointed out that there are various types of psalms and this is clearly a lament psalm. It has the characteristics of a lament psalm. It’s the expression of a complaint, or distress, or a distressful situation.
But it’s more than simply an individual crying out with problems. David recognizes that there are parallels to the national condition and he makes application there.
I’m not going to go through this again as I have the last two lessons, but there are three sections that stand out here. There is a petition section, a prayer section where he is petitioning God to intervene in his circumstances, and there is a confidence section where he expresses his trust to God.
So we have his petition; we have his expression of trust. We also have the lament section, but the order is a little bit different from what I have here. It is petition, lament, and trust; you have those three elements in the first ten verses.
In the next seven verses you have those sections repeated again, so it’s a little bit different kind of structure here.
One writer, Van Gemeren, in his commentary on the Psalms structures part of it this way, showing that it is based on a chiasm which takes our focus to the center part of the Psalm. The end of the first section in Psalm 59:6–8 focuses on the wicked, and then on God. Psalm 59:9-10 focuses on God’s deliverance, ending in Psalm 59:10, “my God of mercy.” A better translation would be, “my God of faithful love, or loving kindness.” It’s the Hebrew word chesed, meaning covenant loyal love.
Psalm 59:10, “My God of mercy will come to meet me …”
In other words, He will anticipate my needs and provide for me.
And He will let me see what happens to my enemies. That’s the end of Psalm 59:10. David could say that because David is in a unique situation.
We can’t say that. David knew that he would be anointed king because God had promised him, and so he knew he wasn’t going to die. We don’t know what can intervene or what’s going to happen in our own circumstances.
I’m structuring the outline a little differently. We have two sections here in terms of an outline. Psalm 59:1-10 are basically going to be repeated in terms of their structure in the second section which is Psalm 59:11-17.
We can summarize the first part as David expressing his confidence that God will always deliver His people from those who treat them unjustly. Justice will prevail, either now in time, or in eternity. There will be a payday, as RG Lee famously preached in a well-known sermon back in the early part of the 20th century called, “Payday Someday.” (Psalm 59:1-10)
God will deal with things; we just have to trust Him and that’s the issue. We just put it into God’s hands, once again,
1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon Him because He cares for you.”
As David faces a situation where he is surrounded by his enemies who are plotting against him, spreading tales against him, libeling him, and slandering him. They are surrounding the house in ambush to capture him and take his life.
From a human perspective, things don’t look good. And many times, in our lives things don’t look good, but we have to get our attention off of the people, off of the circumstances, off of the situations, and put our focus back on the Lord.
That is easier said than done. It doesn’t happen in an instant. That’s why I keep saying we have to train ourselves in the small things, because when the big things come, we need to already have those methodologies in place, where we trained ourselves to cast our care upon Him.
If you learn to do it in the small things then when the big tough situations come it’s a lot easier. It’s harder to learn when we get in the tough situations.
David expresses his confidence. As we move through the process of shifting our focus from the problem to the power of God, then we can express confidence in God: that He will always, always, just because I don’t see it, just because it’s going to happen in the future, in eternity, it will always happen. God will always be on our side.
He will always deliver His people from those who treat them unjustly, and that justice will be either now in time or in eternity.
In the first section covered last time David appeals to God to rescue him from his enemies because he’s innocent and has done no wrong. This is his prayer petition. In the next couple of verses, which we’ll cover pretty quickly, he describes the wickedness of his enemies through a graphic picture, comparing them to wild, ravenous dogs that have no fear or discipline; that’s Psalm 59:6-7. That’s his lament, he’s crying out, focusing on his problem.
The third part in this opening section is when David expresses his trust. He looks at the wickedness of his enemies, and contrasts that to the power of God, Who is always the believer’s strong tower.
I’m going to run through the next 10 slides really quickly, just to review, to put our heads back to where we had them last week.
He opens telling us that this is set to a tune called, “Do Not Destroy”, which the previous two hymns, and some others have been set to, and it indicates that the music matches the theme of the hymn, which is, “Don’t Destroy Me.”
It’s directed to the chief musician, the head of the musical choirs, the Levitical priests. Asaph was one of these and there were several others.
The theme is that David, who is innocent and blameless, petitions the all-powerful omnipotent God on the basis of His faithful covenant love to protect and preserve him from his evil, wicked enemies.
That is what this is about and so we can transfer that, by application, that God, because of His faithful, loyal, love to us is going to provide for us. He is going to take care of His people. Whether we’re Old Testament Jewish believers, or whether we’re New Testament Church Age believers, or even in the future, Tribulation saints.
In this section we looked at the first five verses, how David appeals to God. This is a pattern for prayer, how David appeals to God to rescue him from his enemies because he’s innocent and has done no wrong.
We have seen that in this there is an imprecatory prayer, a fancy word for he wants God to judge his enemies and slam them down.
I’ve said that there is a place for that in our lives, that when we see true evil and wickedness, as we think we have seen politically, we can pray that God would prevent those who have evil designs from being successful, and that can occur in any number of positive situations. It’s not a personal revenge situation. It is for a broader reason and rationale.
Look at these first four verbs that we talked about. There are four imperatives that David uses at the beginning, and these are imperatives of request. I remember a guy years ago, a student, asked me, are they demanding God?
That’s the “name it and claim it” prosperity theology, that you can tell God what to do. No, that’s a misunderstanding of imperatives. The imperative mood can be an imperative of request. God, please do this, or let God do this, if it’s in the third-person type of an imperative.
So it’s an imperative of petition, imperative of request, to rescue me, protect me.
Then, in Psalm 59:2, deliver me and save me. I didn’t cover the word “save” much last time. It’s the Hebrew verb yasha, which is the basis for the noun that is the name of Jesus, Yeshua.
It means to save or deliver. It doesn’t always mean in a salvific, justification, redemption sense. It can be, deliver me from negative circumstances; deliver me from bad health. Deliver me from people who wish to do me harm. It’s used that way, where these four terms are used in a way that expands and helps us understand what is going on here.
David prays to be delivered from his enemies who are called the doers of evil. They are said to be workers of iniquity, and bloodthirsty, so he is asking God, by rescue and protect, to give him safety and provide security.
Recognizing for all of us that we all need safety and security, because as fallen human beings in a corrupt world people say, “I just feel so unsafe.”
I know that may be the cry of a certain segment of our population, that they don’t know what the future is going to hold. That is a great tool to use in conversation, to help them understand that nobody does.
So where do we get the confidence to live life in an uncertain, insecure, scary, world? Well, because we have God. God is our high tower. He is our defense. He is our protector, but we have to have a right relationship with Him.
David cries out and ultimately uses that word yasha, to save. We see that these terms, rescue, protect, deliver, and save, are all roughly synonymous.
In Psalm 59:3 he describes his enemy, that they look, and they lie in wait, trying to ambush him. And he says: but it’s not for my transgression, or for my sin. We saw at least three different words that are used for sin in this section.
The next one is used in Psalm 59:4, “They run and prosper themselves through no fault of mine-or iniquity of my own,” David says. So he proclaims his innocence, calls upon God to be alert, to wake up, pay attention. This doesn’t mean that God is asleep. It’s simply a figure of speech to express the urgency of our request to God.
And then he closed out that section, as I pointed out last time, by focusing on who God is. Get a big picture of God in your head; that God is the God of the armies. God is bigger than any problem, any person, any circumstance, any situation that we can ever face. God knew about it from eternity past, and therefore God has made a provision for it.
He focuses on God Who is the Lord God of hosts, the Lord God of the armies, the God of Israel. He recognizes his own personal situation, that he is being surrounded by enemies, and that is analogous to the condition of Israel who is surrounded by enemies, the Philistines and others.
It is God, the only One Who will protect him as the anointed king of Israel, and God is the only one who can protect the nation.
Psalm 59:5 “You therefore, O Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to punish all the]nations; Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah”
He then concludes by saying, do not be merciful or show grace. That’s the imprecatory prayer. There are times when we say quit being gracious, quit giving that person, that politician, that organization, power. Take them down because they are destroying believers, they prevent the opportunity to take the gospel to people. And God will do it in His time. Only He knows all the facts. So we have to rest and trust in Him.
As I said in the introduction, we looked at this chiasm. We finished the first five verses which express the basic prayer of petition and now we’re in that middle section, Psalm 59:6-10, which focuses our attention upon God.
In terms of the outline we’re adding the second point here, that in Psalm 59:6-7 David describes the wickedness of his enemies, and he uses the extremely graphic picture of these wild dogs that have no fear whatsoever of people. They are constantly in a state of hunger. They constantly seek to attack in order to satisfy their need.
That’s what’s going on here. He is depicting the soldiers of Saul as this vicious, snarling pack of wild dogs, howling, growling in the night. Scavenging, looking for food, and they run in packs. They believe that there is strength in numbers.
There is an analogy here, that just as the dogs go around scavenging for food, so these enemies of his are scavenging for secrets to gossip and to slander.
He compares their words to razors that cut, sharp words that cut.
Psalm 59:6-7, let me read the two verses:
“At evening they return, they growl like a dog, And go all around the city. (7) indeed, they belch with their mouth; swords are in their lips; For they say, ‘Who hears?’ ”
They come out at night. That’s when wild dogs come out. When I first went to Kiev back in 2001, at that time I stayed with Jim Dumas in his apartment, and that was about equidistant on one side of the subway, the Metro station, from where Jim Myers lived.
Often, after teaching at night, I would go over to Jim’s and we’d have hot chocolate and popcorn and talk theology until about 11:30 or 12. Then I would walk back to the apartment in fairly deserted streets. There were a few people who were out, but there were some places that were deserted and there were a lot of wild dogs. This was a big problem in 2000, 2001, 2002, there were packs of 20 or 30 wild dogs roaming the streets in many different places in Kiev. A couple of years after that they had a major effort to round them up and kill most of them, I guess and get them off the streets.
But at times you would run into smaller packs of wild dogs there and so that’s what they were doing. They were just going around scavenging and because they were traveling in packs, they didn’t have any fear. There was strength in numbers and so you needed to be watchful for these dogs and not get in their way.
I think it was about three years ago, I had left early in the morning to go to the gym and there were about three junk yard dogs in front of this building that looked abandoned, so I crossed to the other side of the street, and they saw me, and came running up and sniffing behind me. One of them was a little aggressive and he’d come up and snap at me. I had my computer in my back pack and I slipped it down and swung it as I walked and I thought, well, worst case scenario I’ll sacrifice my Mac, but I just kind of popped him, and one time he snapped and he grabbed my heel just briefly.
That’s when I popped him a good one with the backpack. But you know, this is a scary situation because there’s nobody around, it’s deserted, and it was about 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning. So that’s this kind of situation.
Their words, David describes that they growled like a dog and go all around the city. They generate fear in people. They belch with their mouths- lovely picture isn’t it? Swords are in their lips, talking about their slander, their gossip, and the way they malign David. This is where David is expressing what his enemies are like. He’s calling for God to deliver him from these enemies.
We come back to our outline. He describes these images. They have no fear; they’re going around seeking to destroy him. Then in Psalm 59:8-10 he expresses his trust in God.
This is indicated in Psalm 59:8 where he has a contrast,
“But You, O LORD …” The “but” indicates a contrast with the circumstances of these ravenous wild dogs.
“But You, O LORD, shall laugh at them.”
I might be scared, I might be worried, I don’t know what the outcome is going to be if I’ve got three or four wild dogs snapping at my heels, but God knows what the outcome is, and God is able to handle the circumstances.
“But You, O LORD, shall laugh at them … ”
And then it goes on to say, “You shall have all the nations in derision.”
You’re going to make fun of them. Most people don’t think of God that way. They think of God as sweet and benign.
He certainly is not politically correct, and this picture of God is probably really going to unsettle a whole lot of the [millennial] “snowflakes” because they just don’t know how to handle this kind of a situation.
Anything that contradicts their views, or anything that is harsh, anything that seems judgmental to them, or critical, they don’t know how to handle because they live in these hermetically sealed worldview boxes where nobody really challenges them.
They don’t know how to face the insecurities of that little box that they are in. But God laughs at the bad guys. He holds them in derision. He ridicules them. That doesn’t mean that we should do that, that’s a temptation.
I’ve heard some pastors say, “See, we need to ridicule them.” No, that’s not the point here. God can because He’s God. We can’t, because remember, it’s not about being right in the arguments. It’s not about being right in the political discussions. As I said the other day, we’re not called to be witnesses of the Constitution. We’re not called to be witnesses of the Republican Party. We’re not called to be witnesses of conservatism.
None of those things are wrong, but we are called to be witnesses of the gospel. And we are not called to let politics, or the Constitution, or who we voted for get in the way of being a faithful witness of the Cross of Christ.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
I’ve been distressed the last couple of days reading stories and also seeing a few things on Facebook. I saw somebody not too long ago, who claimed to be a believer, I’m assuming he is a believer. But he just got fed u and he posted something on his website that said if you’re a Democrat, or voting for Hillary, just unfriend me now. I don’t want anything to do with you.
There are stories coming out about families that have disinvited family members. It’s on both sides of the aisle, you have families that are liberal who found out that somebody voted for Trump and they are disinviting them.
And you have those who are Trump supporters who have family members who voted for Hillary and they’re disinviting them, and this should not be characteristic of believers.
We have to be in a situation in this country where we can have civil discourse. If we are believers the issue is not who you voted for, the issue is who you voted for in terms of AD 33. The issue is the Cross and Golgotha, always.
We can’t let a political stance, or our political interpretation, or philosophy, get in the way of being gracious and kind so that we have a platform at some point, maybe not now—now may not be the right time—but at some point, to be able to communicate the gospel to somebody. If there’s going to be any offense whatsoever, the offense needs to be the Cross, not our politics.
But God is a different story. See, God expresses this attitude in the prophecy of Psalm 2 where the picture is at the end of the Tribulation period as the armies of the nations, the kings of the earth at that time, gather together against the Lord,
Psalm 2:4, “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision.”
And in Psalm 37:13, as David also complains about injustice,
“The LORD laughs at him, for He sees that his day is coming.”
Sooner or later that person who seems to be doing so well, is going to not be doing so well.
So this is the focal point in Psalm 59:6-8, talking about the wicked and God.
Then we have the expression in Psalm 59:9-10 talking about hoping in God.
What we read in in Psalm 59:9, “I will wait for You,”
This is David’s declaration of his confidence again. The Hebrew word here for wait is the word shamar.
Shamar is a word that refers to keeping or watching, preserving or guarding over something. It’s the word that’s used in Genesis 2 when God tells Adam that he is to watch over the Garden.
It’s that idea of being a watchman on the tower. It’s the idea of being a guard protecting something. It is waiting with vigilance. It’s the idea of keeping vigilant here; that would be the main idea, that David is saying I’m going to keep watch, I’m going to be vigilant to see how You’re going to intervene.
Then he says, -“O You his Strength;”
Now there is a difficult situation here in the Hebrew and I’ll turn your heads inside out if I go through all the details, but there are some textual issues that come into play here.
One of the translations that has been suggested is this one on this slide in the upper right:
“Power is his alone;” That interpretation was suggested by a rabbi, a rabbinical scholar named Ibn Ezra in the Middle Ages, and he took this as possibly a reference, not to God’s strength, but to the strength of Saul, which makes sense contextually.
That what David is saying is, “I will watch for you O God, power is his.”
Saul is the one who is anointed. He’s the one in position of power. He’s the one behind the enemies. Right now, it seems like he’s got the upper hand. That description makes sense.
This was one of those days when I was sitting there, and I was doing some studying and I read a reference to this because in Hebrew there is what is called kethib qere. Anybody who went to Dallas Seminary understands that term because we had a school weekly newspaper that was called the Kethib Qere. Kethib means written and qere means read.
What you have in the Hebrew text is a little bitty letter like an a, b, c, or d, and then out in the margin, in about four-point typeface, is a word. That word is what is to be read, the other word is what’s written, and so it often gives a difference of interpretation because there was an ambiguity in the original Hebrew.
As a result, there is this question here as to whether this is referring to God as his strength, or whether this is referring to Saul as the one who is in control, because it’s a third person suffix there, it is his strength. But the way most people read this is, O You my strength.
This is what David says in reference to God. If you look down at Psalm 59:17 he says, “To You, O my strength.”
But that’s not how it’s written. What is written in the passage is his strength. Who is the his? If David is talking about, “I will wait for You” you would think he would say to God, “You are my strength.” But it says, “O you his strength.” That’s what causes the problem of interpretation there.
So the idea I lean towards, at least it seems possible, that this is talking about: I’m going to wait for you, God because right now Saul’s in power. I can’t do anything about him, but You are my defense and I am going to wait for You to intervene. That would be the idea. And he says that, “God is my strength ...” here.
This is the noun form of mishgav which means a high place or refuge. That goes back to the word defend me in the verb in the first verse. Literally, set me in a high tower. He is saying God is my high tower.
It’s an affirmation, a statement that God is my constant defense; I don’t need to worry about you. I don’t need to worry about what people say, or what people do. I can be oblivious to it because God can take care of it. I’m going to cast all my care upon You because You care for me.
Then in Psalm 59:10 he says, “My God of mercy shall come to meet me;”
God will anticipate my need. That is the idea here, God will anticipate my need and He will meet me in the midst of my difficulty, my adversity.
He is described as a God of mercy, and this is the word chesed, which refers to God’s faithful, loyal love. It always takes us back to His covenant. God has not made a covenant with David yet, but he’s referring to the faithfulness of God, to His covenant with His people.
If you’ve got a New American Standard it is translated “lovingkindness.” It is talking about the God of love, but it has to be understood, He is loyal to a covenant.
Some people say will that’s not very good. That’s not very romantic. But remember, every time a person gets married, they are making vows. They get a marriage license. They are entering into a contract and they are pledging to love each other in good times and bad, in prosperity and in health, whether the other person is grumpy or not. I’ve been thinking about adding some things to my marriage ceremony: that when you get senile, I will still love you. You know, things like that. When you can’t remember my name anymore and you call me by your old boyfriend’s name, I’ll still love you. Things like that, just to lighten it up a little bit.
I’ve said this many times, when people come and they hear you go through sickness and health, good times and bad times, they hear good and health, the positives, they never hear the negatives. The negatives are sadly too often in our fallen world.
God is a God of mercy Who meets us and at the end where he closes this line with the triumphant note that God is going to let him look on his enemies in triumph. David can say that because David is going to be anointed king. He knows the endgame personally.
You don’t and I don’t because God hasn’t come down and said, “Guess what? I’m going to make you such and such; you’re going to be the president of the company in five years.” You don’t know that. We can’t apply some things to our lives because we aren’t in exactly the same situation. This expresses David’s confidence, His hope in God.
We’re going to go into the next section which focuses more on his call for judgment, justice on God’s part, the imprecation or curse that starts at the end of Psalm 59:10b and goes to the end of Psalm 59:13.
In the second part, David praises God because He has protected David and delivered him. It hasn’t happened yet. But David’s confidence is so certain that God is going to bring justice into the situation and protect him that David speaks of it as if it had already happened.
Grammatically, these are often referred to as prophetic perfects. Grammatically it is an event that is described in the past but it’s referring to something in the future. It’s so certain to occur that it’s going to happen in the future.
David then praises God because He protected David and delivered him. He prays that God would discipline them in a way that will reveal God’s sovereignty so that not only David’s people but also everybody in the world can learn a lesson—that God is sovereign and He will bring about justice.
He expands on this cry to God to destroy his arrogant enemies in Psalm 59:11-13, but he doesn’t ask for God to take their lives. That is an important lesson because what David is doing is, he recognized the punishment needs to fit the crime and they haven’t killed anybody yet.
Often when we want a little vengeance on somebody, they did something the size of a piece of straw and we want God to hit them with a 2’ × 4’. It’s a principal of lex talionis which is the law of retaliation. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, that the punishment needs to be compensatory to the crime.
We’ll see in Psalm 59:14-15 that David will reiterate his lament again describing the wild dogs, very similar to what we saw already. And the conclusion: David vows to praise God for His omnipotence and loyal love.
What does he say? He says to them, Psalm 59:11, “Do not slay them, lest my people forget.”
David thinks there’s a lesson here. This has a teaching point. People need to learn from this situation. ’They need to learn their lesson, so don’t kill them because then the people will forget.
But if you stretch this out and you take them through a lot of difficult circumstances then the people will see this lesson.
He then ups the ante a little bit. He says, “Scatter them by Your power.”
This is the Hebrew word, nawa, which means to shake them up. There is a progression here: the term scatter means shake them up, knock them off balance, and then bring them down. But you aren’t going to kill them.
The verb for bringing them down, yarad, means to bring down, to take down. In context it means to destroy, to wipe out the power base. I think that in this David is understanding some basic principles of Proverbs.
But one last thing here, he refers to the Lord, he doesn’t use the term Yahweh, he shifts to Adonai, and he says, “Adonai is our shield.”
He is a strong tower, He delivers us, and now He’s a strong shield. These are two very vivid images of God’s protection as a strong tower and as a shield. The word for shield is magen. You may have heard of a wine called Mogen David. Mogen is a variant of magen, the shield of David. That is where that comes from.
What we see here is that David is seeking justice, but in grace orientation he understands that the penalty needs to fit the crime. He seeks justice in correspondence to the crime. David recognizes that God is the One Who ultimately protects, defends, and saves. There are things that we can do.
For example, Jess is going to talk after the meeting on terrorism. There are certain things that we can do to protect our house, and Jess has a whole line of things he can talk about how you can protect your house. You lock your doors; you can change the kind of screws in your door facing so that it’s harder to kick the door in. You can do a lot of things like that, but the person who protects my house is not me.
I turn on the security alarm, I do all these other things that I can be responsible for, but I don’t trust in them. I trust in the Lord: the Lord is the One Who defends the house. He defends my property because I’ve given everything over to the Lord. The Lord’s going to protect and provide for and take care of it.
That’s how David is. He recognizes that his life is the Lord’s life to do with as God will, not as he will, and that God will protect and defend and save him. David recognizes the principle; this is what he is applying to his enemies.
Proverbs 16:18, remember Solomon wrote this, and I think that a lot of the Proverbs were what David his father taught him. And so, one of the Proverbs is “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
David says these guys are proud and arrogant. They need to be taken down, Lord; You need to let them fall.
Psalm 59:12, he reiterates this sin of the tongue. “For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips, let them even be taken in their pride, and for the cursing and lying which they speak.”
And then he concludes this by saying in Psalm 59:13 “Consume them in wrath.”
“Consume them:” this is that imprecatory part. It’s mirroring what we have seen earlier.
“Consume them in wrath, consume them.”
He states that twice. That’s the Hebrew word kalah, which is in a piel stem, which means it’s intensive, and it has that idea of cause them to perish, exterminate them, finish them, bring them, bring this whole situation to an end.
“Consume them in wrath.” I’ve used this term many times. Wrath is a term for justice. It is not a term for losing your temper and taking them out and abusing them. It is a term for justice. We often use it, even in English. We’ll say, well, the judge threw the book at him. Well, none of us want a judge who is emotional and who gets upset and throws things at the criminal. It is merely an expression that says that somebody was judged and punished to the fullest extent of the law, hopefully by an unemotional objective judge who understands the truth.
Wrath is simply an anthropopathic term to express the justice of God.
“Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be;”
We know that doesn’t mean that he kills them because earlier David prays, don’t slay them. It means that they are taken out of their position. Positions of influence or power are wiped out.
And he ends by saying, “Let them know that God rules in Jacob—a term for Israel—to the ends of the earth.”
Earlier when he was talking about this in Psalm 59:11 he said, “Do not slay them, lest my people forget.”
Now he expands it from just the people of Israel. He says that all of the ends of the earth will understand. Let God rule over all on the earth. So this is a lesson that even Gentiles should learn. He’s taking it to a higher level.
Notice it ends, there is a break in the Hebrew text. “Let them know that God rules in Jacob to the ends of the earth. Selah”
There is a pause. It takes us back to the previous Selah, at the end of Psalm 59:5, “You therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to punish all the nations; Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah”
You have this call for justice, this imprecation, in both places, Psalm 59:5 and Psalm 59:13.
Just by way of review as we go through this praise section where it ends in Psalm 59:14-15, he reiterates his lament on these insatiable evil enemies. He goes back to that imagery of the wild dogs.
Psalm 59:14-15, “And at evening they return, they growl like a dog, and go all around the city. They wander up and down for food, and howl if they are not satisfied.”
Their appetite for destruction is insatiable.
David then comes to the high point, the conclusion in the last part which I’ve articulated this way in the last section, the last two verses.
David then vows to praise God for His omnipotence, His loyal love. What’s interesting is in a lot of psalms you can start with a vow and then where do you go? What week is this? Thanksgiving.
What you get in the thanksgiving Psalms is the development of the vow to give thanks to God in the temple and that’s where thanksgiving psalms come from. They are an extension.
The lament has been expressed and then there’s thanksgiving and declarative praise to God for what He has done, but in the lament psalms often it just stops with the praise.
Psalm 59:16-17 says, “But I will sing of Your power. Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy—chesed, faithful, loyal love—in the morning; For You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.”
I’m convinced David was a morning person because he always talks about getting up and praising God in the morning, reading the Scripture in the morning. That doesn’t mean if you’re not a morning person that you are carnal. David was a morning person.
Psalm 59:17, “To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; for God is my defense, My God of mercy.”
I underlined strength here and the word power because as I point out in the two language boxes at the bottom, the first word is one form of the word “oz”, which means might or power. There is a homophone, “oz”, which is a second word. In the dictionary you have oz-1 and oz-2. The second one is refuge.
Psalm 59:17 should read, “To You O my Refuge.”
Further studies in Hebrew indicate that these are two distinct words with two distinct meanings. So he’s talking about God here, “O You, my Refuge, I will sing praises; For God is my defense, my God of mercy.”
So, just quickly here as we wrap up, when he says God is a God of mercy that takes us back to chesed. God is our defense because of His faithful, loyal love. He’s loyal to His promises to us, to His covenant to us.
We read here, it says, “for You have been my defense”. This is the word mishgav.
Then it says, “for God is my defense.” That’s the word mishgav, that’s the noun form of the verb he used in the second part of Psalm 59:1, “to defend me.” Same concept.
“You are my high place, my refuge.”
And then in Psalm 59:16, his “refuge” my manos.
He uses these wordplays. You could spend hours just looking at the intricate verbal structures in these psalms and how they are used to bring out different facets of God’s character and to get the attention of the reader to focus on God as the One Who is our strength.
The emphasis ultimately is that God is the God of mercy, and that He is merciful to His people, and He will rescue and deliver them either now or in eternity. His justice is certain and secure, either now or in eternity. We need to rest in the sovereignty of God, the omnipotence of God. Notice how many times in the psalms it always drives us back to the character of God.
This is why I’ve said many, many times, go to the psalms, look at how David looks at a problem: such and such, so and so, this and that, that’s the problem. Let’s think about how it relates to the character of God; sovereignty, justice, righteousness, love, eternal life, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, veracity, immutability. Think about those attributes and structure your prayers in light of those attributes.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to be reminded that when we are faced with horrible situations where our security is threatened, our lives are threatened, we don’t know what we are going to do to survive, how we are going to survive, that we can turn to You and trust in You. That no matter what happens in this life we know that ultimately justice will prevail, because You are a God Who is faithful and loyal to His people. Our responsibility is to trust in You.
So Father we pray that You would challenge us with the message of this psalm, and to trust You just as David did through not only the five attempts on his life that we studied up to this point in 1 Samuel 19, but also all the subsequent ones. And he continued to do what was right despite the fact that that Saul was trying to kill him. He continued to treat Saul with grace and kindness, continued to be humble, even though one day Saul would be his friend, the next day Saul would be throwing spears. Father, we pray that we would be challenged by these truths in Christ’s name. Amen.”