Psalm 59 – Deliver Me

Sometimes it seems like all of our prayers are, "God, Help me!" If you are in one of those seasons, you are not alone. Over and over in the psalms we see David crying out to God for help. Yet through it all David continues to find hope.


As we have found in many of the psalms, the structure is quite complex and often hidden to the average reader.  The psalm begins with a the key word: natsal which means "Deliver me." This word in Hebrew has the numerical value of 69. Interestingly there are 69 words before and after the meaningful center of the psalm.

... for you, O God, are my fortress.
My God in his steadfast love ... Psalm 59:9b-10a

And so, in the very structure of the psalm, we see David's firm hope in God at the core of his cry for help. David continues to cry out to God for deliverance precisely because of his confidence in God's love.

Deliver Me

Psalm 59:1-7

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
    protect me from those who rise up against me; Psalm 59:1

The psalm starts with David's heartfelt cry for help. "Deliver me!"

For behold, they lie in wait for my life;
    fierce men stir up strife against me.
For no transgression or sin of mine, O Lord, Psalm 59:3

David is innocent but they are trying to kill him. This problem is not David's fault. He did nothing to deserve this treatment.

Sometimes we deserve punishment and we cry out for mercy. This psalm, though, is not about confession. It is about fairness or justice. Sometimes in our life we do nothing wrong and yet are poorly treated. Like Psalm 58, this psalm is a cry for justice - for God to punish the evildoer and protect the innocent.

Now we come upon a verse that repeats later in the psalm. But as you will see, David changes the context so that the verse has a very different meaning at the end.

Each evening they come back,
    howling like dogs
    and prowling about the city. Psalm 59:6

The men who pursue David are like wild dogs. Prowling about and howling.

for “Who,” they think, “will hear us?” Psalm 59:7

The idea here is not that no one will hear the noise they make, but rather, that no one of any consequence will hear them. In other words, "Who do you think will stop us?" Who is out there that when there hear us can stop us? They feel invincible and prowl about seeking their prey.


Psalm 59:8-15

At the beginning of verse 8 we come upon a pivotal word: "But." Up until this point David's situation seems hopeless. "But ... God." When God steps on the scene the hopeless gain hope.

But you, O Lord, laugh at them; Psalm 59:8

God laughs at them! Who can hear them and stop them? God can! How dare they think that no one hears or cares!

O my Strength, I will watch for you,
    for you, O God, are my fortress.
My God in his steadfast love Psalm 59:9-10

Now we come to the meaningful center of the psalm which will also repeat at the end. God is the protector of the innocent. God is our strength and our fortress. We can trust in His steadfast love.

consume 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. Psalm 59:13

David places His enemies into God's hand. God is a God of justice and He will pay them back for what they have done.

David returns to his image of a pack of wild dogs, but now the picture has changed.

Each evening they come back,
    howling like dogs
    and prowling about the city. Psalm 59:14

They still prowl and howl, but now they howl in desperation.

They wander about for food
    and growl if they do not get their fill. Psalm 59:15


Psalm 59:16-17

Once more we come to our pivot word: "But." The enemy may howl but I will sing!

But I will sing of your strength;
    I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. Psalm 59:16

God's love is the theme of my song and my strength in trouble!

O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
    for you, O God, are my fortress,
    the God who shows me steadfast love. Psalm 59:17


When all of our prayers are, "God, Help me!", we must remember that God is our strength and our fortress.  The enemy may howl and prowl and growl, but God will protect and defend us. We are able to sing praises because of God's steadfast love.

Jerry Wyrick

This post is part of a series on the Psalms.

by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory

Posted in General Worship, Psalms and tagged , , , .