Prayer to God to manifest his favour. (1-8) The great wickedness and treachery of his enemies. (9-15) He is sure that God would in due time appear for him. (16-23)
Verses 1-8 In these verses we have, 1. David praying. Prayer is a salve for every sore, and a relief to the spirit under every burden. 2. David weeping. Griefs are thus, in some measure, lessened, while those increase that have no vent given them. David in great alarm. We may well suppose him to be so, upon the breaking out of Absalom's conspiracy, and the falling away of the people. Horror overwhelmed him. Probably the remembrance of his sin in the matter of Uriah added much to the terror. When under a guilty conscience we must mourn in our complaint, and even strong believers have for a time been filled with horror. But none ever was so overwhelmed as the holy Jesus, when it pleased the Lord to put him to grief, and to make his soul an offering for our sins. In his agony he prayed more earnestly, and was heard and delivered; trusting in him, and following him, we shall be supported under, and carried through all trials. See how David was weary of the treachery and ingratitude of men, and the cares and disappointments of his high station: he longed to hide himself in some desert from the fury and fickleness of his people. He aimed not at victory, but rest; a barren wilderness, so that he might be quiet. The wisest and best of men most earnestly covet peace and quietness, and the more when vexed and wearied with noise and clamour. This makes death desirable to a child of God, that it is a final escape from all the storms and tempests of this world, to perfect and everlasting rest.
Verses 9-15 No wickedness so distresses the believer, as that which he witnesses in those who profess to be of the church of God. Let us not be surprised at the corruptions and disorders of the church on earth, but long to see the New Jerusalem. He complains of one that had been very industrious against him. God often destroys the enemies of the church by dividing them. And an interest divided against itself cannot long stand. The true Christian must expect trials from professed friends, from those with whom he has been united; this will be very painful; but by looking unto Jesus we shall be enabled to bear it. Christ was betrayed by a companion, a disciple, an apostle, who resembled Ahithophel in his crimes and doom. Both were speedily overtaken by Divine vengeance. And this prayer is a prophecy of the utter, the everlasting ruin, of all who oppose and rebel against the Messiah.
Verses 16-23 In every trial let us call upon the Lord, and he will save us. He shall hear us, and not blame us for coming too often; the oftener the more welcome. David had thought all were against him; but now he sees there were many with him, more than he supposed; and the glory of this he gives to God, for it is he that raises us up friends, and makes them faithful to us. There are more true Christians, and believers have more real friends, than in their gloomy hours they suppose. His enemies should be reckoned with, and brought down; they could not ease themselves of their fears, as David could, by faith in God. Mortal men, though ever so high and strong, will easily be crushed by an eternal God. Those who are not reclaimed by the rod of affliction, will certainly be brought down to the pit of destruction. The burden of afflictions is very heavy, especially when attended with the temptations of Satan; there is also the burden of sin and corruption. The only relief under it is, to look to Christ, who bore it. Whatever it is that thou desirest God should give thee, leave it to him to give it in his own way and time. Care is a burden, it makes the heart stoop. We must commit our ways and works to the Lord; let him do as seemeth him good, and let us be satisfied. To cast our burden upon God, is to rest upon his providence and promise. And if we do so, he will carry us in the arms of his power, as a nurse carries a child; and will strengthen our spirits by his Spirit, so that they shall sustain the trial. He will never suffer the righteous to be moved; to be so shaken by any troubles, as to quit their duty to God, or their comfort in him. He will not suffer them to be utterly cast down. He, who bore the burden of our sorrows, desires us to leave to him to bear the burden of our cares, that, as he knows what is best for us, he may provide it accordingly. Why do not we trust Christ to govern the world which he redeemed?
Psalms 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 Psalms 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" ( Psalms 21:9 ).
divide their tongues--or, "confound their speech," and hence their counsels ( Genesis 11:7 ).
the city--perhaps Jerusalem, the scene of anarchy.
10, 11. which is described in detail (compare Psalms 7:14-16 ).
11. Wickedness--literally, "Mischief," evils resulting from others ( Psalms 5:9 , Psalms 52:2 Psalms 52:7 ).
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" ( Proverbs 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 Numbers 16:33 ).
among them--or, "within them," in their hearts ( Psalms 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.
of old--enthroned as a sovereign.
Because . . . no changes--Prosperity hardens them ( Psalms 73:5 ).
20, 21. The treachery is aggravated by hypocrisy. The changes of number, Psalms 55:15 Psalms 55:23 , 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 ( Psalms 37:25 , Matthew 6:11 ).
to be moved--from the secure position of His favor (compare Psalms 10:6 ).
23. bloody . . . days--(compare Psalms 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.