Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

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.

19 God shall hear, and afflict them As the verb ענה, anah, which I have rendered afflict, signifies, occasionally, to testify, some understand David to say that God would rise up as a witness against them. The syntax of the language will scarcely, however, admit of this, as, in Hebrew, the letter ב, beth, is generally subjoined in such a case. There seems no doubt that the word signifies here to addict or punish, although this is rather its signification implicitly and by a species of irony; for, most commonly, ענה, anah, means to answer. Having said that God would hear him, he adds that he would answer him, in the way of avenging his cause, in the punishment of his enemies. The epithet, or descriptive title, which he applies to God, is one calculated to comfort the pious mind in times of trouble and confusion. Much of that impatience into which we are hurried arises from not elevating our thoughts to the eternity of God. Can anything be more unreasonable than that poor mortals, who pass away like a shadow, should measure God by their feeble apprehensions, which is to cast him down from his eternal throne, and subject him to the fluctuations of a changing world? As חלף, chalaph, may signify to cut off as well as to change, some have supposed that David here complains of the destruction of the wicked having been too long deferred; but this is not a probable interpretation. The term has been more properly rendered changes But even those who have adopted this rendering have varied in the sense of the passage. 315315     The reason of this difference arises from the ambiguity of the meaning of the original word, which signifies change simply, without reference to the kind of change. Of the two senses which our Author proceeds to state, the first is that adopted by the Chaldee, which reads, “Wicked men, who change not their very evil course, and fear not the sight of God, shall perish.” Dathe, while he admits the ambiguity of the word, follows the Chaldee. Gesenius gives the same interpretation. “But,” says Walford, “this reduces the passage nearly to an identical proposition; so that the probable meaning is, vicissitudes of fortune. These men had enjoyed great prosperity, and been subjected to few trials; they were therefore enamoured of this world and its pleasures, and gave themselves little regard about the will and authority of God. See Psalm 73:5, 6.” Some understand it to mean that no change to the better was to be expected in their character; that they were so bent upon evil as to be inflexible to repentance; so entirely under the influence of a cruel disposition, as never once to incline to humanity or mercy. Others, with more reason, consider that he refers, in the language of complaint, to the uninterrupted flow of their prosperity, which was such that they seemed exempt from the common vicissitudes of life. He represents them as being corrupted by this indulgence, and casting off from their minds every principle of fear, as if they were privileged with immunity from mortal ills. The copulative particle will thus carry the force of a consequence — they have no changes, and therefore they fear not God 316316     “That is,” says Williams, “they suppose they also shall live for ever; or, at least, that things will go on the same for ever. See 2 Peter 3:4. It is an undeniable truth, that the longer the wicked are left in the enjoyment of their pleasures, they are only hardened the more in their evil courses; and that where pride has the ascendancy in the heart, the effect of the Divine indulgence is to make us forget that we are men. In the connection between the two parts of the verse there is an implied censure of the infatuation of those who are led by their exemption from adversity to conclude that. they are a species of demigods; for, how insignificant is the course of human life when compared with the eternity of God? We have need to be upon our guard when under prosperity, lest we fall into the secure spirit which the Psalmist here alludes to, and even carry our exultation to the extent of a defiance of the Almighty.


VIEWNAME is study