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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.

1. Give ear to my prayer, O God! From the language with which the psalm opens, we may conclude that David at this time was laboring under heavy distress. It could be no ordinary amount of it which produced such an overwhelming effect upon a saint of his distinguished courage. The translation which has been given of אריד, arid, I will prevail, does violence to the context, for, so far from boasting of the fortitude which would govern his address, he is anxious to convey an impression of his wretchedness, by intimating that he was constrained to cry out aloud. What is added in the third verse, By reason of the voice of the enemy, may be viewed as connected either with the first verse or that immediately preceding, or with both. By the voice some understand such a noise as is occasioned by a multitude of men; as if he had said, that the enemy was mustering many troops against him: but he rather alludes to the threatenings which we may suppose that Saul was in the habit of venting upon this innocent prophet. The interpretation, too, which has been given of the casting of iniquity upon him, as if it meant that his enemies loaded him with false accusations, is strained, and scarcely consistent with the context. The words are designed to correspond with the succeeding clause, where it is said that his enemies fought against him in wrath; and, therefore, to cast iniquity upon him means, in my opinion, no more than to discharge their unjust violence upon him for his destruction, or iniquitously to plot his ruin. If any distinction be intended between the two clauses, perhaps the fighting against him in wrath may refer to their open violence, and the casting of iniquity upon him 296296     “Literally slide iniquity upon me; i.e., by oblique and artful insinuations they asperse my character. The sentiment of the whole line I take to be this, that the enemies of the Psalmist, by sly insinuations, brought him under the suspicion of the worst enemies, and then wreaked their malice upon him under the color of a just resentment.” — Horsley. to their deceitful treachery. In this case, און, aven, which I have rendered iniquity, will signify hidden malice. The affliction of the wicked is here to be understood in the active sense of persecution. And in applying the term wicked to his enemies, he does not so much level an accusation against them as implicitly assert his own innocence. Our greatest comfort under persecution is conscious rectitude, the reflection that we have not deserved it; for there springs from this the hope that we will experience the help of the Lord, who is the shield and defense of the distressed.

Psalm 55:4-8

4. My heart trembles within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. 5. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. 6. And I said, Who will give me wings like a dove? I will fly away, and be at rest. 7. Lo! I will prolong the flight, 297297     “C’est, m’enfuiray bien loin.” — Fr. marg. “That is, I will flee afar off.” I will repose in the wilderness. Selah. 8. I will hasten a deliverance for me, 298298     “C’est, hasteroye de m’eschapper.” — Fr. marg. “That is, I will hasten to escape.” from the wind raised by the whirlwind.


4. My heart trembles within me 299299     “My heart is in travail within me.” חול, de tremore maxime parturientium.” — Fry Ainsworth reads, “My heart is pained within me, or trembleth with pain.” “The word,” says he, “usually meaneth such pains as a woman feeleth in her travail.” Here we have additional evidence of the extremity of David’s sufferings. He that uses these words was no soft or effeminate person, but one who had given indubitable proofs of constancy. Nor is it merely of the atrocious injuries inflicted upon him by his enemies that he complains. He exclaims that he is overwhelmed with terrors, and thus acknowledges that his heart was not insensible to his afflictions. We may learn from the passage, therefore, not only that the sufferings which David endured at this time were heavy, but that the fortitude of the greatest servants of God fails them in the hour of severe trial. We are all good soldiers so long as things go well with us, but when brought to close combat, our weakness is soon apparent. Satan avails himself of the advantage, suggests that God has withdrawn the supports of his Spirit, and instigates us to despair. Of this we have an example in David, who is here represented as struggling with inward fears, as well as a complication of outward calamities, and sustaining a sore conflict of spirit in his application to the throne of God. The expression, terrors of death, shows that he was on the very eve of sinking unless Divine grace interposed.

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