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Psalm 55

Complaint about a Friend’s Treachery

To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David.

1

Give ear to my prayer, O God;

do not hide yourself from my supplication.

2

Attend to me, and answer me;

I am troubled in my complaint.

I am distraught 3by the noise of the enemy,

because of the clamor of the wicked.

For they bring trouble upon me,

and in anger they cherish enmity against me.

 

4

My heart is in anguish within me,

the terrors of death have fallen upon me.

5

Fear and trembling come upon me,

and horror overwhelms me.

6

And I say, “O that I had wings like a dove!

I would fly away and be at rest;

7

truly, I would flee far away;

I would lodge in the wilderness;Selah

8

I would hurry to find a shelter for myself

from the raging wind and tempest.”

 

9

Confuse, O Lord, confound their speech;

for I see violence and strife in the city.

10

Day and night they go around it

on its walls,

and iniquity and trouble are within it;

11

ruin is in its midst;

oppression and fraud

do not depart from its marketplace.

 

12

It is not enemies who taunt me—

I could bear that;

it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me—

I could hide from them.

13

But it is you, my equal,

my companion, my familiar friend,

14

with whom I kept pleasant company;

we walked in the house of God with the throng.

15

Let death come upon them;

let them go down alive to Sheol;

for evil is in their homes and in their hearts.

 

16

But I call upon God,

and the Lord will save me.

17

Evening and morning and at noon

I utter my complaint and moan,

and he will hear my voice.

18

He will redeem me unharmed

from the battle that I wage,

for many are arrayed against me.

19

God, who is enthroned from of old,Selah

will hear, and will humble them—

because they do not change,

and do not fear God.

 

20

My companion laid hands on a friend

and violated a covenant with me

21

with speech smoother than butter,

but with a heart set on war;

with words that were softer than oil,

but in fact were drawn swords.

 

22

Cast your burden on the Lord,

and he will sustain you;

he will never permit

the righteous to be moved.

 

23

But you, O God, will cast them down

into the lowest pit;

the bloodthirsty and treacherous

shall not live out half their days.

But I will trust in you.


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Ps 55:1-23. In great terror on account of enemies, and grieved by the treachery of a friend, the Psalmist offers an earnest prayer for relief. He mingles confident assurances of divine favor to himself with invocations and predictions of God's avenging judgments on the wicked. The tone suits David's experience, both in the times of Saul and Absalom, though perhaps neither was exclusively before his mind.

1. hide not thyself, &c.—(compare Ps 13:1; 27:9), withhold not help.

2. The terms of the last clause express full indulgence of grief.

3. oppression—literally, "persecution."

they … iniquity—literally, "they make evil doings slide upon me."

4, 5. express great alarm.

5. come upon—or literally, "into."

6. be at rest—literally, "dwell," that is, permanently.

7, 8. Even a wilderness is a safer place than exposure to such evils, terrible as storm and tempest.

9. Destroy—literally, "swallow" (Ps 21:9).

divide their tongues—or, "confound their speech," and hence their counsels (Ge 11:7).

the city—perhaps Jerusalem, the scene of anarchy.

10, 11. which is described in detail (compare Ps 7:14-16).

11. Wickedness—literally, "Mischief," evils resulting from others (Ps 5:9; 52:2, 7).

streets—or literally, "wide places," markets, courts of justice, and any public place.

12-14. This description of treachery does not deny, but aggravates, the injury from enemies.

13. guide—literally, "friend" (Pr 16:28; 17:9).

acquaintance—in Hebrew, a yet more intimate associate.

14. in company—literally, "with a crowd," in a festal procession.

15. Let death, &c.—or, "Desolations are on them."

let them go—literally, "they will go."

quick—or, living in the midst of life, death will come (compare Nu 16:33).

among them—or, "within them," in their hearts (Ps 5:9; 49:11).

16-18. God answers his constant and repeated prayers.

18. many with me—that is, by the context, fighting with me.

19. God hears the wicked in wrath.

abideth—or, "sitteth."

of old—enthroned as a sovereign.

Because … no changes—Prosperity hardens them (Ps 73:5).

20, 21. The treachery is aggravated by hypocrisy. The changes of number, Ps 55:15, 23, and here, enliven the picture, and imply that the chief traitor and his accomplices are in view together.

22. thy burden—literally, "gift," what is assigned you.

he shall sustain—literally, "supply food," and so all need (Ps 37:25; Mt 6:11).

to be moved—from the secure position of His favor (compare Ps 10:6).

23. bloody … days—(compare Ps 5:6; 51:14), deceit and murderous dispositions often united. The threat is directed specially (not as a general truth) against the wicked, then in the writer's view.




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