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INTRODUCTION TO PSALM LIX.
PSALM OF DAVID.
While David remained in concealment, Jonathan, true to his promise, obtained an interview with his father, and remonstrated with him against so unjust an act as putting to death one who had been the saviour of the nation, who had rendered such important service to the king, and who, on all occasions, had conducted himself with virtue and magnanimity. The well-timed words of Jonathan moved the relentings of the king, and “he hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan, and Saul sware, “As the Lord liveth he shall not be slain.’” 1 Sam. xix, 4–6. David was hereupon restored to favour, and “was in the presence of Saul as in times past.”
Again the Philistines, the sleepless enemies of Saul, invaded the land, and David was once more summoned to take the field. New perils, to him, were but new occasions for the display of that genius which had already marked him out as at once the favourite and the champion of the tribes. Each successive emergency of the nation had, hitherto, developed his resources, by giving to him new opportunities and a wider scope of action, and had advanced him step by step, till his name already overshadowed every officer of the realm, and excited, as we have seen, the deadly jealousies of the crown. In the pending war David engaged with characteristic ardour. He met his enemies, and “slew them with a great slaughter, and they fled from him.” 1 Sam. xix, 8. The enemy repulsed, and the duties of the camp being ended, David once more returns to his family, and to the court of Saul.
As might have been expected, the recent victory, followed by the universal joy of the nation, while it added fresh laurels to the name of David, recalled and aggravated the jealousy of Saul. Eyeing him one day, as David sat playing on his harp for the diversion of the king, the spirit of enmity rose above all restraint, and Saul hurled his javelin at David; but David avoided the missile, and fled from the house. He was now convinced of Saul's settled intention to kill him. No faith whatever could be henceforward placed in his promise or his oath of friendship. Saul also knew that the act could not be recalled, or the step retraced, or his real purpose longer disguised. He therefore once for all threw off the mask, and despatched officers and men to surround David's house, and to arrest him. In this attempt he had hoped to be seconded by the treacherous character of Michal, to whom he sent a command to deliver up her husband. But herein he was disappointed. Michal loved David, and this affection now triumphed over family pride and paternal authority. Through a window, in a basket, she let. him down outside the city wall, and he escaped. Hour after hour she deceived the messengers of Saul with feigned pretences, and kept them in waiting, till David should have time to retire beyond the reach of his pursuers. 1 Samuel, xix, 9–16. It was on occasion of his house being beset by the officers of Saul and of his narrow escape, that he writes Psalm lix.
PS ALM LIX.
ON THE SOLDIERS OF SAUL SURROUNDING THE HOUSE OF DAVID TO TAKE HIM.
David prayeth to be delivered from his enemies, 1–5; he complaineth of their cruelty, 6–7; he trusteth in God, 8–10; he prayeth against them, 11–15; he praiseth God, 16, 17.
To the chief Musician, Al-taschith, Michtam [Destroy not. A golden Psalm] of David; "when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him.
* Deliver *me from mine enemies, O my God! *Defend me from them that rise up against me. * Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, And save me from bloody men. For, lo! they lie in wait for my soul: The "mighty are gathered against me; Not *for my transgression, nor for my sin, O Lord! * They run and prepare themselves without my fault: Awake ‘to help me, and behold.
* Psa. 57, title. * Heb. set me on high, c 1 Sam. 24, 11.
* 1 Sam. 19.11. b.Psa. 56. 6. * Heb, to meet me, Psa. 85, 28, * Psa. 18.48, & 44, 23.
* Thou therefore, O Lord God of hosts' (the God of Israel) ... Awake to visit all the heathen: Be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah! * They return at evening: They make a noise like a dog, And go round about the city. 7 Behold, they belch out with their mouth; Swords "are in their lips: For “Who,” say “they, “doth hear?” 8 But sthou, O Lord! shalt laugh at them; Thou shalt have all the heathen in derision. * Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: For God is “my defence. 10 The God of my mercy shall sprevent me: God shall let "me see my desire upon “mine enemies. 11 Slay 'them not, lest my people forget: Scatter them by thy power; And bring them down, O Lord our shield ! 12 For *the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips Let them even be taken in their pride; And for cursing and lying which they speak. 13 Consume them in wrath; Consume them, that they may not be: And "let them know that God ruleth in Jacob Unto the ends of the earth. Selah' *And at evening let them return; And let them make a noise like a dog, And go round about the city. * Let them "wander up and down 'for meat, "And grudge if they be not satisfied.
d Psa, 57. 4. Pro. 12, 18. h Psa. 54. 7. & 92.11. & 112.8 m Psa. 83. 18.
e Psa. 10.11, 18. See Job 22.13. * Heb. mine observers, Psa n See Job 15. 23.
f 1 Sam. 19. 16. Psa. 2. 4, 56. 2. 7 Heb. to eat.
* Heb. my high place.P.s. 62.2. So Gen. 4. 12, 15. * Or, If they be not satis
s Psa. 21.8. Or, go before me, k Pro. 12. 18. & 18, 7, fied, then they will stay all —Ed. i Psa. 7. 9. night.
* ... But I will sing of thy power; Yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: For thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble. 17 Unto thee, "O my strength ! will I sing; For God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.
o Exod. 15, 2.
INTRODUCTION TO PSALM LVI.
PSALM OF DAVID.
In his flight from Saul, David came to Ramah, a city in the southwest of Benjamin, the abode of Samuel, and rehearsed to the prophet all that had transpired. From Ramah they then removed to Naioth, a place within or near the suburbs of Ramah, where David continued some time with Samuel. David well knew that no power in the kingdom could shelter him from the vengeance of Saul, unless it were the great personal influence of this prophet of God. It was Samuel that first anointed Saul, and afterward confirmed him in his kingdom; and to his counsels and admonitions both the king and the people were accustomed to render the profoundest respect. According to the genius of the Hebrew theocracy, the prophet, as the plenipotentiary of Jehovah, held a rank above the magistrate, and even the regular priesthood, so that his word, when given as the oracle of God, became the supreme law of the land. Samuel was a universally accredited prophet of God; in earlier life, too, he had officiated as judge, or supreme magistrate of all the tribes: and, both in his civil and prophetic character, he was venerated and beloved by the nation. Under these circumstances, David hoped to find with Samuel a refuge from the fury of Saul. In this, however, he was doomed to disappointment. Three successive despatches from Saul arrived at Naioth, with orders to arrest David, and, after them, Saul himself appeared; but all were frustrated by the singular interposition of God. 1 Samuel xix, 18–24.
Though delivered for the present from his persecutor, David clearly saw, by the daring of these abortive attempts, that Saul had lost his veneration for the sacred authority of Samuel, whose extreme age, (being now about ninety years old), probably unfitted him for any active interference with public affairs. No power in the kingdom could now open an asylum for the fugitive prince, or avert the vindictive jealousy of Saul, and David beheld with dismay the perilous strait to which he was reduced. Whither now should he flee? Should he leave his native land, the covenant people, to dwell an exile with some heathen nation? In the distress and perplexity of his condition, he sees no other avenue of escape; and yet, before he adopts this desperate alternative, though he had often proved the faithlessness of Saul, he resolves to make one more effort to sound his feelings and test his intentions. Contrary to all evidences of the past, he still hopes that the violent measures of the king might have been induced by his malady, and a more placable temper might, as on former occasions, return with the periodical abatement of his disorder. This forlorn hope, now to be put to the test, was all that alleviated the dismal prospect of exilement.
Leaving “Naioth in Ramah,” therefore, David now returned, and cautiously sought an interview with Jonathan. They met as brothers, and with many affecting pledges of mutual affection. The plan is consummated, and Jonathan again undertakes the delicate business of sounding the mind of his father. The result of this well-managed plan decided the position of all parties. It now became evident, beyond hope of recall, that the enmity of Saul was settled and implacable. The mild and just remonstrance of Jonathan was answered by the javelin of Saul, which he always kept about his person, both as a sceptre and a weapon of defence. It was at a public feast at the New Moon, and upon receiving this indignity, “Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did eat no meat the second day of the month; for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame.”
The day following, Jonathan repaired to the field where David lay concealed, to inform him of the hopeless state of affairs. The last resort had failed; the feelings of Saul were more keenly incensed by the friendly overtures of Jonathan,