Hungry *Dogs

Psalm 59

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 59

Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

Words marked with a *star are described in the word list at the end.

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Jesus said, "I will always be with you, even to the end of the world". (Matthew 28:20)

Psalm 59

  (This is) for the music leader.
(Use the music that we call) Do Not Destroy.
(It is) a *miktam of David, when Saul sent (men)
 to watch his house and to kill him.

v1   My God, save me from my enemies.
  Make me strong against the people that are fighting me.

v2   Take me away from men that are doing *evil
  and make me safe from men that kill other people.

v3   Look! They are waiting to kill me!
  *Cruel men are planning together against me.
  *LORD, (I have done) nothing against them and nothing wrong.

v4   (I have done) nothing wrong but they are getting ready to attack me.
  Get up and see (what they are doing)! Bring me help!

v5   For you are the *LORD, a God with *huge armies.
  Get up and *punish the foreign *nations.
  Do not be *gracious to all these *evil and false people.   *SELAH

v6   They come back to the city every evening.
  They go from place to place and *growl *like *dogs.

v7   Look at their mouths ... *dribbling!
  *Swords come from their lips because (they think that) nobody will hear.

v8   But you, *LORD, you will laugh at them.
  You will also laugh at foreign people.

v9   I will watch for you, My Strength.
  Because you, God, are My *Fortress.

v10   My God, your kind love will come to meet me.
  God will show me (when he wins the battle against) my enemies.

v11   Do not kill them (yet), or my people will forget (them).
  Use your power to make them go from place to place.
  Our *Shield and our *Lord,
  you are stronger than they are so make them do it!

v12   For the *sin of their mouth and the words of their lips,
  catch them in their *pride.
  And (catch them) for the bad things that they say
  and the *lies that they tell.

v13   Destroy them (now) because you are so angry (with them).
  Destroy them and finish their lives.
  Then people will know to the ends of the earth that God rules Jacob.

v14   They come back to the city every evening.
  They go from place to place and *growl *like *dogs.

v15   They will go from place to place looking for food,
  and they will *growl when they do not find any.

v16   But I will sing that you are My Strength.
  In the morning, I will shout about your kind love.
  Because you were My *Fortress
  where I found *shelter when I was in trouble.

v17   I will raise psalms to you, My Strength.
  Because you, God, are My *Fortress,
  the God that will always show me your kind love.

 The Story of Psalm 59

David was a servant of King Saul. Many people liked David. Saul did not like this so he sent men to kill David. But David’s wife Michal gave him help to get out through a window. David then ran away, and the men did not find him. In the psalm, David says that these men were *like *dogs looking for food. The story is in 1 Samuel 19:8-18.

Many Bible students think that David wrote this psalm after he became king. That is why he talks about ‘foreign people’. God not only gave David help to beat his enemies at home, but also in foreign countries. David saw that what happened with Saul’s hungry *dogs was also what happened with foreign enemies. So, he put both ideas into the one psalm. We must read the psalm carefully, or this will confuse us. We must see that there are two different groups of enemies.

What Psalm 59 means

We can study the psalm in two parts:

  ·   verses 1-10 David is in danger and asks God for help

  ·   verses 11-17 God sends help and makes David safe.

Verses 1 – 10: The psalm starts with a bit of the story from 1 Samuel 19. It says that this is a "*miktam", which probably means "hidden meaning" or "special teaching". In verses 1 and 2 David asks God to take him away from his enemies and make him safe. At first, his enemy was Saul and his hungry *dogs, but later it would be foreign armies as well. In verses 3 and 4 David tells God that these hungry *dogs (they are really Saul’s secret police) are trying to kill him. But he also tells God that he, David, has done nothing wrong.

In verse 5 you will find both groups of enemies. Because God has *huge armies, David asks God to *punish his foreign enemies. This was after Saul was dead and David was king. Then he asks God not to be gracious (which means "kind") to *evil and false people. These were Saul’s hungry *dogs. They looked for David in the city after David had run away. This was at night. In verse 6 we read that they often did it, hoping to find David. In verse 7 they were *like *dogs waiting for someone to feed them, their mouths dripping with saliva while they looked at their food. (Saliva looks *like water.) But their words are *like *swords as they say what they will do to David. They hope that nobody hears them, because most people like David. David was also talking about foreign enemies that came to fight him in the city where David was hiding. In verse 8 David says that God will laugh at them; this is because God will win the fight! In verses 9 and 10 David says that he will watch for God, whose kind love will come to meet him. Some Bible students translate "come to meet me" as "go before me". It was this "kind love" that gave David help to beat his enemies. The end of verse 10 is when David knew that this had happened.

Verses 11 – 17: In this part of the psalm, the fight is over. David has won. Before he was king, he had won against Saul and his secret police. After he was king he had won against foreign enemies. There are three important things in this part:

  ·   In verses 11 - 13 David asks God to destroy the enemies slowly. Then everyone will know that God has *punished them for what they said. The word "destroy" in verse 13 is "devour" in Hebrew. This means "eat as if you were very hungry". What the hungry *dogs wanted to do to David, God would do to them!

  ·   In verses 14 - 15 we find the *dogs again. But now there is nothing for them! They do not dribble at the mouth, and no *swords (*cruel words) come from their mouths.

  ·   In verses 16 - 17 David is so happy that he sings, shouts, and raises psalms to God. We could translate the Hebrew for ‘I will raise psalms to you’ as ‘I will psalm you’. A psalm is a song, sometimes telling God that we are weak, sometimes what we want God to do to our enemies. Here it tells God how great God is! It is a song of *praise.

Something to do

1.  Read Psalm 2. In Psalms 2 and 59 we see that God Rules OK!

2.  Can you find 6 different names for God in Psalm 59? What do they all mean? You will find some help after Psalm 25 in this set of psalms.

3.  Psalms 54-59 are Psalms of *Imprecation. This means that there are verses in them that ask God to destroy our enemies. Read what is in Psalm 58 about Psalms of *Imprecation. Then think about what *Saint Paul wrote in Romans 12:19. "It is my job to *punish people, says God. I will do it".

Word list

cruel ~ not kind, hurting people.

dogs ~ animals that people often keep at home; wild dogs often look for food in groups.

dribbling ~ water running from the mouth (my *dogs dribble when they see food that they are going to get).

evil ~ very very bad people (or the things that they do).

fortress ~ a safe place built of stones and rocks.

gracious ~ kind, not *punishing when you should.

growl ~ make a noise *like a wild animal.

huge ~ very very big.

imprecation ~ a *prayer for something bad to happen to an enemy.

lies ~ words that are not true.

like ~ another word for ‘as’.

LORD ~ a special name for God; only his people use it (look after Psalm 25).

lord ~ someone with authority (with a capital L a name for God, look after Psalm 25).

miktam ~ maybe it means one of: something made from gold, something hidden, something with special meaning.

nation ~ a group of people (or a country) with a government.

praise ~ (noun, or being something) words that say that someone or something is very good.

praise ~ (verb, or doing something) say that someone or something is very good.

prayer ~ words that you say when you pray.

pride ~ when you think that you are better than other people.

punish ~ hurt someone when they do something wrong (hit them with a stick or put them in prison).

saints ~ another name for God’s people, or Christians.

SELAH ~ a word often used in the psalms; we do not know what it means, probably stop and think, or pray, or make music.

shelter ~ a cover from wind, rain or danger.

shield ~ something that a soldier uses to stop things hitting him.

sin ~ (noun, or being something) a not obeying of God’s rules.

sin ~ (verb, or doing something) not obey God’s rules.

sword ~ a long sharp knife that soldiers used.


© 2000-2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words)

July 2001

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