Justice and Vengeance


Psalm 59
To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him.
1Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me;
2deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men.
3For behold, they lie in wait for my life; fierce men stir up strife against me. For no transgression or sin of mine, O Lord,
4for no fault of mine, they run and make ready. Awake, come to meet me, and see!
5You, Lord God of hosts, are God of Israel. Rouse yourself to punish all the nations; spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. Selah
6Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city.
7There they are, bellowing with their mouths with swords in their lips— for “Who”, they think, “will hear us?”
8But you, O Lord, laugh at them; you hold all the nations in derision.
9O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress.
10My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.
11Kill them not, lest my people forget; make them totter by your power and bring them down, O Lord, our shield!
12For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride. For the cursing and lies that they utter,
13consume them in wrath; consume them till they are no more, that they may know that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the earth. Selah
14Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city.
15They wander about for food and growl if they do not get their fill.
16But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.
17O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.

We again have a Psalm that is attached to a specific incident from David’s life which is recorded for us in 1 Samuel 19. I’ve included only a portion of the chapter, but really all of chapter 19 is pertinent to the psalm.

1 Samuel 19:11–18
11Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch him, that he might kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, told him, “If you do not escape with your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” 12So Michal let David down through the window, and he fled away and escaped. 13Michal took an image and laid it on the bed and put a pillow of goats’ hair at its head and covered it with the clothes. 14And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.” 15Then Saul sent the messengers to see David, saying, “Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may kill him.” 16And when the messengers came in, behold, the image was in the bed, with the pillow of goats’ hair at its head. 17Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me thus and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?” And Michal answered Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go. Why should I kill you?’” 18Now David fled and escaped, and he came to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and lived at Naioth.

These events take place early in David’s life before he has fled Saul’s court for good. David is married to Saul’s daughter, Michal. She was his “prize” for defeating the Philistines and in fact the price for her hand in marriage was 100 Philistine foreskins; a price David paid times two. But Saul’s madness forces him to act rashly and without cause. Even his own daughter would not help him kill David.

As David prays through this event in his life, we find that he once again begs God for deliverance and justice. As I read through yet another psalm where David’s very existence is in danger, I marvel at the life he had to live. I can honestly say, I’ve never had someone threaten my life. It happened to him numerous times! So I’ve never prayed a prayer like the one in Psalm 59. I’ve never begged God to defeat my enemies. But I have been in situations where I just had to surrender it all into God’s hands and knew that He would deal with it as He saw fit. I do agree with David’s words in verses 9 & 10.

9O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress. 10My God in his steadfast love will meet me.

And sometimes I have prayed with that exact sentiment because I know full well that my puny efforts will net me nothing.

The true challenge comes in the middle of the storm for me. It is there that one really needs to be intentional about surrendering yourself into God’s hands. And I’ll admit – that’s not always easy. The mind immediately jumps into panic mode and we start trying to solve our own problems. God’s power and might (and justice) don’t occur to us until we are in too deep. But God is still there, working for us and with us. We join David and say:

16But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.
17O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.

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