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55. Psalm 55

Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication.

2Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise;

3Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me.

4My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.

5Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.

6And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.

7Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.

8I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.

9Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city.

10Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it.

11Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.

12For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him:

13But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.

14We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.

15Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.

16As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me.

17Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.

18He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.

19God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.

20He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.

21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.

22Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

23But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.

15 Let death seize upon them. He now denounces the whole faction, not the nation generally, but those who had taken a prominent part in the persecution of him. In imprecating this curse he was not influenced by any bad feeling towards them, and must be understood as speaking not in his own cause but in that of God, and under the immediate guidance of his Spirit. This was no wish uttered in a moment of resentment or of reckless and ill-considered zeal, and which would justify us in launching maledictions against our enemies upon every trivial provocation. The spirit of revenge differs widely from the holy and regulated fervor with which David prays for the judgment of God against wicked men, who had already been doomed to everlasting destruction. The translation, Let death condemn them, is forced, and so also is another which has been suggested, Let him appoint death a creditor over them. 310310     This is the sense in which Horsley understands the passage. He observes, that “the image here is not sufficiently expressed by the English word seize, though it is not impossible that our translators might intend to allude to the seizure of a debtor. But this is rather a kindred image than the same. The precise image in the original is the exaction of payment, not the seizure of the person.” His rendering is, “Let death exalt his claim upon them.” That which we have given is the most obvious and simple. In praying that his enemies may descend alive into the grave, it has been well observed, that he seems to allude to the punishment of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; though I conceive that in imprecating sudden and unexpected ruin upon them, he adverts to the proud persuasion which they cherished in their prosperity, that they would escape the stroke of death. “Lord,” as if he had said, “in the infatuation of their pride they consider themselves to be exempted from the ordinary lot of mortality, but let the earth swallow them up alive — let nothing prevent their being dragged down with all their pomp to the destruction which they deserve.” The cause which he assigns for his prayer in the latter part of the verse, is another proof that he was not influenced by any personal resentment against his enemies, but simply denounced the just judgments of God upon such as persecuted the Church. Wickedness, he adds, is in their dwelling By this he meant that it could not but dwell where they dwelt and this he expresses still more fully when he adds, in the midst of them; intimating, that they inwardly cherished their wickedness, so that it was their inseparable companion, and dwelt with them under the same roof.


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