David here encourages himself, in reference to the threatening power of his enemies, with a pious resolution to wait upon God and a believing expectation that he should yet praise him.
I. He resolves to wait upon God (Ps. 59:9): “Because of his strength” (either the strength of his enemies, the fear of which drove him to God, or because of God’s strength, the hope of which drew him to God) “Will I wait upon thee, with a believing dependence upon thee and confidence in thee.” It is our wisdom and duty, in times of danger and difficulty, to wait upon God; for he is our defence, our high place, in whom we shall be safe. He hopes, 1. That God will be to him a God of mercy (Ps. 59:10): “The God of my mercy shall prevent me with the blessings of his goodness and the gifts of his mercy, prevent my fears, prevent my prayers, and be better to me than my own expectations.” It is very comfortable to us, in prayer, to eye God, not only as the God of mercy, but as the God of our mercy, the author of all good in us and the giver of all good to us. Whatever mercy there is in God, it is laid up for us, and is ready to be laid out upon us. Justly does the psalmist call God’s mercy his mercy, for all the blessings of the new covenant are called the sure mercies of David (Isa. 55:3); and they are sure to all the seed. 2. That he will be to his persecutors a God of vengeance. His expectation of this he expresses partly by way of prediction and partly by way of petition, which come all to one; for his prayer that it might be so amounts to a prophecy that it shall be so. Here are several things which he foretels concerning his enemies, or observers, that sought occasions against him and opportunity to do him a mischief, in all which he should see his desire, not a passionate or revengeful desire, but a believing desire upon them, Ps. 59:10. (1.) He foresees that God would expose them to scorn, as they had indeed made themselves ridiculous, Ps. 59:8. “They think God does not hear them, does not heed them; but thou, O Lord! shalt laugh at them for their folly, to think that he who planted the ear shall not hear, and thou shalt have not them only, but all such other heathenish people that live without God in the world, in derision.” Note, Atheists and persecutors are worthy to be laughed at and had in derision. See Ps. 2:4; Prov. 1:26; Isa. 37:22. (2.) That God would make them standing monuments of his justice (Ps. 59:11): Slay them not; let them not be killed outright, lest my people forget. If the execution be soon done, the impressions of it will not be keep, and therefore will not be durable, but will quickly wear off. Swift destructions startle men for the present, but they are soon forgotten, for which reason he prays that this might be gradual: “Scatter them by thy power, and let them carry about with them, in their wanderings, such tokens of God’s displeasure as may spread the notice of their punishment to all parts of the country.” Thus Cain himself, though a murderer, was not slain, lest the vengeance should be forgotten, but was sentenced to be a fugitive and a vagabond. Note, When we think God’s judgments come slowly upon sinners we must conclude that God has wise and holy ends in the gradual proceedings of his wrath. “So scatter them as that they may never again unite to do mischief, bring them down, O Lord, our shield!” If God has undertaken the protection of his people as their shield, he will doubtless humble and abase all those that fight against them. (3.) That they might be dealt with according to their deserts (Ps. 59:12): For the sin of their mouth, even for the words of their lips (for every word they speak has sin in it), let them for this be taken in their pride, even for their cursing others and themselves (a sin Saul was subject to, 1 Sam. 14:28), and lying. Note, There is a great deal of malignity in tongue-sins, more than is commonly thought of. Note, further, Cursing, and lying, and speaking proudly, are some of the worst of the sins of the tongue; and that man is truly miserable whom God deals with according to the deserts of these, making his own tongue to fall on him. (4.) That God would glorify himself, as Israel’s God and King, in their destruction (Ps. 59:13): “Consume them in wrath, consume them; that is, follow them with one judgment after another, till they be utterly ruined; let them be sensibly, but gradually wasted, that they themselves, while they are in the consuming, may know, and that the standers-by may likewise draw this inference form it, That God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth.” Saul and his party think to rule and carry all before them, but they shall be made to know that there is a higher than they, that there is one who does and will overrule them. The design of God’s judgments is to convince men that the Lord reigns, that he fulfils his own counsels, gives law to all the creatures, and disposes all things to his own glory, so that the greatest of men are under his check, and he makes what use he pleases of them. He rules in Jacob; for there he keeps his court; there it is known, and his name is great. But he rules to the end of the earth; for all nations are within the territories of his kingdom. He rules to the ends of the earth, even over those that know him not, but he rules for Jacob (so it may be read); he has an eye to the good of his church in the government of the world; the administrations of that government, even to the ends of the earth, are for Jacob his servant’s sake and for Israel’s his elect, Isa. 45:4. (5.) That he would make their sin their punishment, Ps. 59:14; compare Ps. 59:6. Their sin was their hunting for David to make a prey of him; their punishment should be that they should be reduced to such extreme poverty that they should hunt about for meat to satisfy their hunger, and should miss of it as they missed of David. Thus they should be, not cut off at once, but scattered (Ps. 59:11), and gradually consumed (Ps. 59:13); those that die by famine die by inches, and feel themselves die, Lam. 4:9. He foretels that they should be forced to beg their bread from door to door. [1.] That they should do it with the greatest regret and reluctancy imaginable. To beg they are ashamed (which makes it the greater punishment to them), and therefore they do it at evening, when it begins to be dark, that they may not be seen, at the time when other beasts of prey creep forth, Ps. 104:20. [2.] That yet they should be very clamorous and loud in their complaints, which would proceed from a great indignation at their condition, which they cannot in the least degree reconcile themselves to: They shall make a noise like a dog. When they were in quest of David they made a noise like an angry dog snarling and barking; now, when they are in quest of meat, they shall make a noise like a hungry dog howling and wailing. Those that repent of their sins mourn, when in trouble, like doves; those whose hearts are hardened make a noise, when in trouble, like dogs, like a wild bull in a net, full of the fury of the Lord. See Hos. 7:14; They have not cried unto me with their heart when they howled on their beds for corn and wine. [3.] That they should meet with little relief, but the hearts of people should be very much hardened towards them, so that they should go round about the city, and wander up and down for meat (Ps. 59:15), and should get nothing but by dint of importunity (according to our marginal reading, If they be not satisfied, they will tarry all night), so that what people do give them is not with good-will, but only to get rid of them, lest by their continual coming they weary them. [4.] That they should be insatiable, which is the greatest misery of all in a poor condition. They are greedy dogs which can never have enough (Isa. 56:11), and they grudge if they be not satisfied. A contented man, if he has not what he would have, yet does not grudge, does not quarrel with Providence, nor fret within himself; but those whose God is their belly, if that be not filled and its appetites gratified, fall out both with God and themselves. It is not poverty, but discontent, that makes a man unhappy.
II. He expects to praise God, that God’s providence would find him matter for praise and that God’s grace would work in him a heart for praise, Ps. 59:16, 17. Observe,
1. What he would praise God for. (1.) He would praise his power and his mercy; both should be the subject-matter of his song. Power, without mercy, is to be dreaded; mercy, without power, is not what a man can expect much benefit from; but God’s power by which he is able to help us, and his mercy by which he is inclined to help us, will justly be the everlasting praise of all the saints. (2.) He would praise him because he had, many a time, and all along, found him his defence and his refuge in the day of trouble. God brings his people into trouble, that they may experience his power and mercy in protecting and sheltering them, and may have occasion to praise him. (3.) He would praise him because he had still a dependence upon him and a confidence in him, as his strength to support him and carry him on in his duty, his defence to keep him safe from evil, and the God of his mercy to make him happy and easy. He that is all this to us is certainly worthy of our best affections, praises, and services.
2. How he would praise God. (1.) He would sing. As that is a natural expression of joy, so it is an instituted ordinance for the exerting and exciting of holy joy and thankfulness. (2.) He would sing aloud, as one much affected with the glory of God, that was not ashamed to own it, and that desired to affect others with it. He will sing of God’s power, but he will sing aloud of his mercy; the consideration of that raises his affections more than any thing else. (3.) He would sing aloud in the morning, when his spirits were most fresh and lively. God’s compassions are new every morning, and therefore it is fit to begin the day with his praises. (4.) He would sing unto God (Ps. 59:17), to his honour and glory, and with him in his eye. As we must direct our prayers to God, so to him we must direct our praises, and must look up, making melody to the Lord.