Psalms 55

Listen to Psalms 55
1 1Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
2 Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless 2in my complaint and I 3moan,
3 because of the noise of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked. For they 4drop trouble upon me, and in anger they bear a grudge against me.
4 My heart is in anguish within me; 5the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
5 Fear and trembling come upon me, and 6horror 7overwhelms me.
6 And I say, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest;
7 8yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah
8 I would hurry to find a shelter from 9the raging wind and tempest."
9 Destroy, O Lord, 10divide their tongues; for I see 11violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they go around it on its walls, and 12iniquity and trouble are within it;
11 ruin is in its midst; 13oppression and fraud do not depart from its marketplace.
12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me-- then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who 14deals insolently with me-- then I could hide from him.
13 15But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend.
14 We used to take sweet counsel together; within God's house we walked in 16the throng.
15 Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol 17alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.
16 But I call to God, and the LORD will save me.
17 18Evening and 19morning and at 20noon I 21utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
18 He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for 22many are arrayed against me.
19 God will give ear and humble them, he who is 23enthroned from of old, Selah because they do not 24change and do not fear God.
20 My companion[a]25 stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant.
21 His 26speech was 27smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were 28drawn swords.
22 29Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; 30he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
23 But you, O God, 31will cast them down into 32the pit of destruction; men of 33blood and treachery shall not 34live out half their days. But I will 35trust in you.

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Psalms 55 Commentary

Chapter 55

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?

Cross References 35

  • 1. Psalms 54:2; Psalms 61:1; Psalms 86:6
  • 2. ver. 17; Psalms 64:1
  • 3. [Isaiah 38:14; Isaiah 59:11]
  • 4. [2 Samuel 16:7, 8]
  • 5. Psalms 116:3
  • 6. Job 21:6; Isaiah 21:4; Ezekiel 7:18
  • 7. Psalms 78:53
  • 8. [Jeremiah 9:2]
  • 9. Psalms 83:15
  • 10. [Genesis 11:9]
  • 11. Jeremiah 6:7
  • 12. Psalms 5:9
  • 13. [Psalms 10:7]
  • 14. Job 19:5
  • 15. [2 Samuel 15:12; 2 Samuel 16:23]; See Psalms 41:9
  • 16. Psalms 42:4
  • 17. Numbers 16:30, 33; Proverbs 1:12; [Psalms 124:3]
  • 18. Psalms 141:2; Acts 3:1; Acts 10:3, 30
  • 19. Psalms 5:3; Psalms 88:13; Psalms 92:2
  • 20. Acts 10:9; [Daniel 6:10]
  • 21. ver. 2
  • 22. [Psalms 56:2]
  • 23. Deuteronomy 33:27
  • 24. Job 10:17; See Job 21:7-15
  • 25. Acts 12:1
  • 26. See Psalms 28:3
  • 27. Proverbs 5:3, 4
  • 28. See Psalms 57:4
  • 29. See Psalms 37:5
  • 30. Psalms 10:6
  • 31. ver. 15; Psalms 56:7; Psalms 59:11
  • 32. Psalms 69:15; Psalms 94:13
  • 33. Psalms 5:6
  • 34. Proverbs 10:27; See Job 15:32
  • 35. See Psalms 11:1

Footnotes 1

Chapter Summary

To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil [A Psalm] of David. The occasion of this psalm was either the persecution of Saul, or the conspiracy of Absalom. Some think it was written when David understood that the inhabitants of Keilah would deliver him into the hands of Saul, 1 Samuel 23:12; and others when the Ziphites attempted a second time to do the same, 1 Samuel 26:1; but since a single person is spoken of that magnified himself against him, Psalm 55:12; and Ahithophel seems to be designed; it may be thought rather to be written on account of Absalom's rebellion, and Ahithophel's counsel against him; who is considered by many Christian interpreters as a type of Judas, the betrayer of our Lord; and, indeed, there are many things in this psalm, if not the whole, which may be truly applied to Christ, as will be seen in the following exposition of it.

Psalms 55 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.