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Psalm 59

As a young teen, I visited Rocky Point, Mexico with my father and brother. Among the most enduring memories was of the sight and howls of packs of dogs that roamed at night. I grew up with large dogs, who were loyal and dear to me. Here the dogs were menacing. In the Bible, dogs are usually presented in such fearsome terms. An example from Psalm 59:15-16: “And they return toward evening, they howl like a dog and prowl the city; they wander for food; if not sated, they may not sleep.” Some in our tradition have read this Psalm as a protection from dogs.

Psalm 59 is the third Psalm in a row linked to an event in David’s life: “When Saul sent and they watched the house to kill him” (verse 1). The reference is recorded in I Samuel 19. King Saul is crazy jealous over David’s popularity with the people as a great warrior. To lure David’s destruction, the King promises marriage to Michal, his daughter, if David can produce one hundred foreskins of the Philistine foe. David produces two hundred and marries the princess, who loves her husband greatly. In this moment, King Saul had sent troops to kill David in his home. Michal will use deception to enable her husband’s escape.