Psalm 59:10 (ESV) …. “My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.”
King Saul’s fear and hatred of David became so compulsive that he finally gave orders to kill his son-in-law, and twice Saul tried to do it himself (1 Sam. 19:1–10). Then he plotted to have David murdered in his bed at home (1 Sam. 19:11–18), but his wife helped David escape by letting him out a window (see Acts 9:23–25). Before this attempt, Saul sent out search parties to spy on David (vv. 6, 14), and David wrote this psalm to ask God for the help he needed. The focus of the psalm is on God—the Deliverer (vv. 1–9) and the Judge (vv. 10–17). Note David’s repeated “statement of faith” in verses 9 and 17. David waited and watched for God to work, and then he sang praises to the Lord for His mercies.
God the Deliverer (vv. 1–9)
God’s people can always turn to the Lord in times of danger and testing because He hears our prayers (vv. 1–2). “Defend me” means “set me on high,” for David saw the Lord as his fortress and high tower (18:2; 20:1; 46:7, 11; 91:14). However, David’s prayer wasn’t a substitute for action, for “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Michel’s warning and immediate action saved his life, and her use of the “dummy” in the bed helped to buy time for her husband to get to Samuel in Ramah. But it was the Lord who answered prayer and orchestrated the escape. The Lord also knows our hearts (vv. 3–4) and recognized that David was innocent of the charges Saul’s men were making against him (7:1–5; see 1 Sam. 20:1 and 24:11). David was not a traitor, but Saul had to have some excuse for hunting him down. David addressed the Lord as if He had been sleeping (vv. 4–5; see 7:6 and 44:23). In times of great danger, we sometimes feel that God needs to start acting on our behalf and doing it very soon!
The Lord sees and hears our enemies (vv. 5–7) and knows what they are saying and doing. David addressed Him as Jehovah (the God of the covenant), the Lord of Hosts (armies), and the God of Israel. David was Israel’s anointed king and a son of the covenant God made with His people, so he had every right to seek God’s help. Jehovah is the Lord of the Armies (Lord Sabaoth) and can defeat anyone who challenges His will. Since Saul and his men were the immediate problem, to whom was David referring when he spoke of “the nations” (vv. 5 and 8)? The nations around Israel were usually poised and ready to attack their old foe, and Saul’s mismanagement of the kingdom would make such a move even easier. He was so obsessed with destroying David that he neglected his duties as king and made the nation vulnerable. But David was God’s anointed king, and Saul’s attacks were exactly what the Gentile nations would do if they could. Unlike Saul, David understood the unique position of Israel among the nations and sought to maintain it (Gen. 12:1–3; Num. 23:9; 24:8–9).
David’s graphic description of Saul’s men (vv. 6–7 and 12–15) reveals how much he held them in disdain. They were nothing but prowling, snarling dogs, frothing at the mouth, spewing out evil words, and rummaging in the garbage dumps of the city. The Jews usually referred to the Gentiles as dogs! Finally, as our great Deliverer, the Lord defends our cause (vv. 8–9). The “dogs” were prowling and growling, but the Lord was laughing (see 2:4 and 37:13). The spies were watching David, but David was “on watch” looking for the Lord to act (vv. 9, 17; see 121:3–5, 7–8). God was his strength and fortress (46:1), and he had no reason to be afraid.
God the Judge (vv. 10–17)
God would not only take care of David, but He would also confront David’s enemies and deal with them. If David’s requests seem brutal and not in the spirit of Christ, keep in mind that Israel’s future and the future of David’s chosen dynasty were both at stake. This was not a personal crusade on David’s part, for he asked God to fight the enemy for him (Rom. 12:17–21).
When it comes to facing and fighting the enemy, the Lord goes before us (v. 10). The mercy (lovingkindness) of the Lord would go before David and prepare the way for victory, just as when David killed the giant Goliath. The Lord also fights for us (vv. 11–13a) by scattering the enemy, causing them to wander and bringing their attack to a halt. The Lord is our Shield who can protect us in any battle (3:3; 18:2; Gen. 15:1; Deut. 33:29), but we must make a distinction here. David was willing that God destroy the Gentile nations and thus reveal His great power (v. 13), for God’s victories bear witness to those who don’t know Him. However, he asked God not to kill Saul and his men with some sudden judgment, but to allow their own sins to catch up with them and consume them gradually. This would be a strong witness and a warning to the people of Israel and teach them lessons they could learn no other way. God’s victories glorify His great name (v. 13b) and magnify the name of the Lord to the ends of the earth (Ex. 9:16; Deut. 28:9–10; Josh. 4:23–24; 1 Sam. 17:46; 1 Kings 8:42–43). Finally, the Lord gives us a song (vv. 16–17) and even before the victory, we praise Him for who He is and what He does! The night of danger is never enjoyable, but we have His “mercy in the morning” (v. 16, kjv) because His love and compassion are “new every morning” (Lam. 3:22–23).