Thursday, 9 January 2014

Psalm 59 - The Righteous One's appeal against apostate Israel, to the Lord's might and mercy

"His own received him not." The Sweet Singer of Israel knew what it is to be cast of by those who should have been his closest friends; and it was on one of those occasions, when his father-in-law sent a band to take him, dead or alive, from his own house (1 Sam 19:14), that David was taught by the Holy Spirit to pour out his soul in these strains of strong appeal to justice and to mercy.

Perhaps it was at Ramah, when resting in Samuel's dwelling for a time, that this Psalm was written

  • - a Psalm for David himself 
  • - a Psalm for David's Son, when he too should be rejected by his own
  • - a Psalm for all his followers when they would, in later ages, feel that the disciple is not greater than the Master. 

It is another Al-taschith and Michtam.

If a disicple, persecuted "for righteousness' sake" can confidently use the language of verse 4, saying "not for any particular crime in me, nor yet for general unholiness, but because I am yours; without being able to fix on anything to justify their hostility" - if a disicple can use this language, much more the Master.

And in this consciousness of being hated solely for "righteousness' sake," the Head and his members claim the help of the LORD as being:
1. God of hosts and therefore able
2. God of Israel and therefore willing (v5)

It seems to be apostate Israel (Tholuck says, heathen-minded Israel) who are primarily described  in verse 5 as "the heathen", these children of Abraham who are now children of the devilk - Israelites become Goim! (Isaiah 1:10).

They are in character and conduct like city dogs, prowling for prey, feeding on the filth of the town, scouring its streets as if to clear them of the godly.

But the LORD - he who in Psalm 2:4 was seen on teh throne of his glory deriding the kings of earth in their vain attempts - laughs at these impotent apostates.

In verse 7, the Psalmist complainingly utters, "for who is there that hears?"
And then verse 8 as one confident in God he exlaims:

His Strength (Yes, this is our stronghold - the idea flashes hope through the soul -
The LORD's strength - I will wait on you (v9)

The "sins of their mouth" may be especially their declared rejection of Messiah's grace. Then, an intecession ascends, like Elijah against Israel - a prayer that thee blind apostates may be scattered, though not destroyed from the earth.

The prayer of verse 13 -  "Consume them, in wrath consume them til they are no more..." reminds us of 2 Thess 2:16, "Wrath has come on them to the uttermost." As a nation, as a  kingdom, they are "consumed" but as a people they are "scattered," and men to earth's end are taught of Jacob's God by their doom.

It is a doom of retribution for their treatment of the righteous. A solemn "Selah" follows, like that which in verse 5 closed the prayer for divine interposition, that we may ponder the awful judgement, Jacob driven to the ends of the earth! (v13)

Now they are as hungry dogs in another sense than when they snarled at the godly - they prowl about the world for food (v14,15).

In spite of them, the Just One flourishes, singing of the LORD, mighty and merciful, and looks forward to a time when he shall sing louder still - a morning after a dark night, the resurrection-morning. "We contemplate when the morning is over, when the temptations of this world have passed, when robbers, the devil and angels we dread give us no fear, when we walk not by the lamp of prophecy but by the very Word of God, like the sun." (Augustine)

In verse 11, the Righteous One seems to see the sword hanging over apostate Israel, as when it was suspended over Jerusalem in the days of the pestilence that cut of 73,000 men of Isrrael.

Seeing this exterminating sword, he cries, "Slay them not!" He asks for a mitigation of their doom, even that which has been granted - their dispersion instead of their extirpation.  Let them be as Cain, Gen 4:12, "make them wander." 

Still, he fully agrees with the Lord as to their deserving wrath to the uttermost, and expresses this entire agreement in the closing verses.

It is therefore a Psalm in which the Head and members present their appeal against apostate Israel, and then consent to their long-enduring desoluation, in prospect of mercy breaking out of the gloom at last "in the Morning"

It is The Righteous One's appeal against apostate Israel, to the Lord's might and mercy.

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