Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Psalms 58-63

Psa 58.1-11 is the second psalm in a trilogy of “Tasheit” psalms, and it means “Do not destroy.” Jewish commentators believe that this psalm was directed towards Abner and the judges. Abner disregarded David’s claim that he was righteous for not killing Saul when he had the chance in the cave (Psa 57). This rekindled Saul’s hatred towards David and this psalm is based on Saul’s pursuit of David in 1 Sam 26.3. The heading for this psalm reads, “For the Conductor; a Al-tasheit (do not destroy). A Miktam (teaching) of David.”

Psa 58.1-5 begins with David saying, “Will you indeed speak righteousness in silence, O gods (Elohim or “judges”)?” These judges remained silent as to David’s innocence. The word “indeed” in Hebrew is “emunah” and it is the word for faith or condidence, and it is also related to the word “Amen” meaning “belief.” But these judges in Saul’s kingdom were far from being righteous in this matter and guilty of acts of violence and oppression (v 1-2). The wicked are corrupt from birth and lean towards evil as soon as they are born (v 3). Their lives are like poison and they are deaf to the truth like a cobra (v 4). Abner and these judges refused to be swayed or “charmed” by David’s words and actions and would not come to his side (v 5).

Psa 58.6-9 says that David wants God to “shatter their teeth in their mouth” (render their words harmless) and “break out the fangs of the young lions” meaning Saul’s underlings (v 6). Like a flow of water dispersed, David wants God to disperse their power and be cut down (v 7). He wants the Lord to make them like the snail that melts away and dies, and like the stillborn that never sees the light of day (v 8). Before the tender briars (which are offspring of the wicked) develop (understand) hardened thorns (the wicked are hardened to evil), David wants God to sweep them away, both the green (young) and the dry (old). God will not wait (before your pot feels thorns) till the men grow old and weak (v 9).

Psa 58.10-11 says that when the righteous see the wrath of God they will rejoice and Yehovah will “wash his footsteps in the blood of the wicked” which denotes a great slaughter. Then men will say that God does avenge the righteous and judges the earth.

Psa 59.1-17 is the third and last psalm in the “Al-tasheit” series. Jewish commentators believe it was written about the first time Saul pursued David (1 Sam 19). The heading reads, “For the Conductor; set to Al-tasheit (do not destroy). A Miktam (teaching) of David, when Saul sent men and they watched the house in order to kill him.”

Psa 59.1-5 tells us that David describes those who seek to kill him and needs deliverance, and he describes this need. They are described as those who do iniquity by trying to capture him outside his house and are bloodthirsty (v 1-2). They are fierce (impudent ones) and they had no justification at all to be against David (v 3). If God did not help him he would die (v 4) and David appeals to God’s name Yehovah and the attribute of mercy, who is over the armies of heaven (his power), the God of Israel. He wants Yehovah to be aroused against any nation who attacks Israel and does not want the Lord to be gracious to any man in Israel who is treacherous. Then verse 5 ends with “Selah” meaning we should pause and think about what has just been said, and to prostrate.

Psa 59.6-8 tells us that Saul’s soldiers return at evening like a dog and howl (slander him). They go around the city looking for him (v 6) and they “belch forth” with talebearing like vomit with words like swords (very sharp) in their lips (v 7). But God laughs at them (shames them, confuses them, exposes them) and scoffs at all who are against the Lord (v 8).

Psa 59.9-15 tells us that because of Saul’s strength, David will watch for the Lord is his stronghold and he will meet his needs (v 9-10). He did not want them all slain at once, he wanted their fall to be a lesson for others who wished to follow in their ways. He wanted God to impoverish them and to bring David their status because God knows what they are saying. He wants them caught in their pride (whatever they boasted in) and on account of their curses and lies which they have uttered with their own mouth (v 11-12). He also wants the Lord to eradicate them is stages until they are destroyed that men may know that Yehovah rules in Israel (v 13). Then Psa 59.7 is repeated in v 14 in that they are like dogs who go around the city looking for the food of slander against David and to feast on David’s corpse (v 14-15).

Psa 59.16-17 tells us that David’s joy will return when God displays his power against his enemies and when dawn arrives he will see that his escape from Saul and his men was a success. David will sing of his power to create an escape when there was none and that the Lord is his defense.

Psa 60.1-12 is a psalm that David wrote because he thought God had abandoned him and the people. He was at war near the Euphrates River and on the way home he fought the Syrians (Aram). Edom, an old enemy, attacked Jerusalem and David sent part of the army to fight against them. David’s forces won and they killed twelve thousand in a battle near the Valley of Salt (Dead Sea). The heading reads, “For the Conductor; according to Shushan Edut (Rose of Testimony). Miktam of David, to teach, when he struggled with Aram-naharaim (Aram of the pair of rivers) and with Aram-zobah (Aram of the army) and Joab returned, and smote twelve thousand of Edom in the Valley of Salt.”

Psa 60.1-5 are the words of David and he wants an answer from Yehovah because he believes God has forsaken Issrael because he was fighting so many foreign enemies and experienced some defeat (v 1). He felt that the whole earth shook and split at his defeat, but God could heal the breaches (v 2). God has given them wine to drink that has made them weak and numb, and Israel’s defeat was hard to understand and David was confused ( v 3).

Psa 60.4-5 says that David has hope in his deliverance and God has given “a banner” to those who fear him. A “banner” is an idiom for the Messiah (Isa 11.10, 13.2, 18.3). It is to be displayed because of the truth of God’s word. Then verse 4 ends with “Selah” which means to pause and think about what has just been said, and to prostrate. He wants God’s beloved to be delivered and for God to save with his “right hand” and answer. The “right hand” is symbolic of power and an idiom for the Messiah.

Psa 60.6-8 tells us that God has spoken “in his holiness” (inspiration) that David would rule over Israel and he will portion out Shechem (Ephraim) and Jacob’s initial claim to the land at Sukkot (Gen 33.17). Jacob’s territorial possessions will be a part of Israel (v 6). Except for Judah, all the tribes were hostile to David’s rule (Gilead, Manasseh, Ephraim) but later submitted to David’s rule and his officers who were from Judah (v 7). Moab, Edom and Philistia will be subject to David as in 2 Sam 8.1 (v 8).

Psa 60 9-12 says that God will lead him to Edom and the besieged city (Petra) even after David has suffered defeat. He trusts the Lord because he knows what God has promised him (v 9). It seems like God has rejected them and will not go with them into battle (v 10), but David knew victory was impossible without the help of God. They would fight (form an army) but God is the one who would tread down their enemies (v 11).

Psa 61.1-8 tells us that David had hope when he was overwhelmed with trouble. Hope does not mean “wish” but it is an expectation based on the promises of God (Psa 130.5, Heb 11.1). We do not know the circumstances that prompted this psalm, but it seems to have been written after he became king and he was “at the end of the earth.” Some scholars believe it was written down when he was fighting the Syrians, the Philistines or Absalom. The heading reads, “For the Conductor; on Neginot (stringed instruments), by David.” These instruments are played with a string or bow it is believed.

Psa 61.1-4 says that David was in distress and he cries out to God to hear his prayer (v 1). David was at the end of the earth (meaning very distant from Jerusalem) and his heart was “covered” (overwhelmed) with grief and trouble. He wants to be lead to the “rock” that is higher than he was at the moment (the high ground, the best position to be in when in a battle for the most part). This is also an allusion to the Messiah and to his kingdom (Heb 7.26; 1 Cor 10.4; Zech 4.7, Dan 2.35). The idea of a “rock” delivering him was very important to David and a constant theme in his writings and it relates back to his victory over Goliath (v 2). He has been a shelter for David against those who came against him and a strong tower (Prov 18.10). He wants to be lead to that place again (v 3). He wants to abide (live) in God’s “tent” or “house” as he wrote in Psa 23.6 and the shelter of his wings (Psa 57.1) forever (v 4).

Psa 61.6-8 tells us that God has heard his “vows” and has given David the inheritance of those who fear his name, meaning spiritual blessings (v 5). He believed that the Lord will “prolong the king’s life (himself) and this also alludes to the Messiah, who rose from the dead and lives forever (Isa 53.10; Heb 7.24). In like manner, if the king lives on so will his kingdom for many generations (v 6). He (David and Messiah) will abide (sit) before God forever and wants the Lord to show mercy and kindness to preserve him as he rules and administers Torah justice (v 7). As David is granted victory, he will praise Yehovah day after day. This also alludes to Israel’s salvation when Messiah is made king over the Messianic Kingdom (v 8).

Psa 62.1-11 is a psalm that David wrote that talks about David’s trust in God and the downfall of evil. The heading reads, “For the Conductor; on Yedutan, a Psalm of David.” Some believe that a Yedutan is a musical instrument in the Temple orchestra. Hebraically, the word is related to “evil decrees” meaning this psalm is a chant by a victim of persecution. Some believe that Yedutan was a Levite who lead the Levitical choir. He had six sons and this was referenced back in Psa 39.1. This psalm may have been sent to him (1 Chr 25.3).

Psa 62.1-2 says that David waits in silence for Yehovah only to act and does not seek outside assistance. He is David’s rock and once saved he strengthened him and prevents him from being shaken (meaning “falling”- Jude 24; Col 1.17; Phil 2.13).

Psa 62.3-4 tells us that David asks how long he will be assaulted by his enemies and says they all will be slain. Like a “leaning wall” and “tottering fence” they are easily toppled. Saul and Absalom counseled on how to overthrow David. They lied and were two-faced (Ecc 10.20).

Psa 62.5-8 says that David waited in silence because God knew all about their schemes and will help him (v 5). David again says that Yehovah is his rock and slavation and defense. These are mentioned to strengthen his faith and hope to wait. He will not be moved at all. His faith is gaining strength (v 6). Yehovah is the author of his salvation and his glory (honor and dignity). The rock imagery again alludes to how the Lord used a rock to deliver him from Goliath and it also alludes to firmness and security (v 7).

Now David speaks to the people in v 8-10 and tells them to trust and repent because God is a refuge (v 8). Men (“adam”) of low degree (earthly men of fallen Adam) and men of rank (“Ish”) are a lie (all came from the same blood). The men of great rank talk as if their blood was different from everyone else, but they are all traced back to Adam and we should put no confidence in them. If all men were weighed in a balance they would be found to be less than nothing (v 9). It is foolish to trust in ill-gotten gains (oppression) and robbery (money taken by force) so don’t do it (v 10).

Psa 63.11-12 says that “once God has spoken, and twice I have heard this” (and it means that what he is about to say is certain) that power belongs to God, and that is great and almighty power. That is the first thing. This means we should put our faith in him (v 11). The second thing is lovingkindness (mercy) belongs to the Lord and he will render to every person according to his work. This means that he is merciful, but he is also just and righteous in what he does with each person. People like Saul, Absalom or the wicked mentioned above will be stopped by the power of his anger, and the those who are righteous will experience the power of his mercy (v 11).

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Tying into the New Testament

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