Psalms 55

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A maskil of David.

1 [a][b]Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea;
2 hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
3 because of what my enemy is saying, because of the threats of the wicked; for they bring down suffering on me and assail me in their anger.
4 My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me.
5 Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.
6 I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.
7 I would flee far away and stay in the desert;[c]
8 I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”
9 Lord, confuse the wicked, confound their words, for I see violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they prowl about on its walls; malice and abuse are within it.
11 Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets.
12 If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide.
13 But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend,
14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers.
15 Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the realm of the dead, for evil finds lodging among them.
16 As for me, I call to God, and the LORD saves me.
17 Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.
18 He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me.
19 God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change— he will hear them and humble them, because they have no fear of God.
20 My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant.
21 His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.
22 Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
23 But you, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay; the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust 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 41

  • 1. Psalms 27:9; Psalms 61:1; Lamentations 3:56
  • 2. Psalms 4:1; Psalms 66:19
  • 3. 1 Samuel 1:15-16; Psalms 77:3; Psalms 86:6-7; Psalms 142:2; Isaiah 38:14
  • 4. S 2 Samuel 16:6-8; Psalms 17:9; Psalms 143:3
  • 5. S Psalms 44:16
  • 6. Psalms 71:11
  • 7. S Psalms 6:3
  • 8. S Job 18:11; Psalms 116:3
  • 9. S Job 4:14; S 2 Corinthians 7:15; Job 21:6; Psalms 119:120
  • 10. Deuteronomy 28:67; Isaiah 21:4; Jeremiah 46:5; Jeremiah 49:5; Ezekiel 7:18
  • 11. 1 Samuel 23:14
  • 12. Psalms 31:20
  • 13. Psalms 77:18; Isaiah 4:6; Isaiah 25:4; Isaiah 28:2; Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 32:2
  • 14. Genesis 11:9; Acts 2:4
  • 15. Psalms 11:5; Isaiah 59:6; Jeremiah 6:7; Ezekiel 7:11; Habakkuk 1:3
  • 16. Genesis 4:17
  • 17. 1 Peter 5:8
  • 18. Psalms 5:9
  • 19. Psalms 10:7
  • 20. S 2 Samuel 15:12; Psalms 41:9
  • 21. Acts 1:16-17
  • 22. Psalms 42:4
  • 23. Psalms 64:7; Proverbs 6:15; Isaiah 29:5; Isaiah 47:9,11; 1 Thessalonians 5:3
  • 24. Numbers 16:30,33; S Psalms 49:14
  • 25. Psalms 141:2; Acts 3:1; Acts 10:3,30
  • 26. Psalms 5:3; Psalms 88:13; Psalms 92:2
  • 27. Acts 10:9
  • 28. S Exodus 15:18; Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalms 29:10
  • 29. Psalms 78:59
  • 30. Psalms 36:1; Psalms 64:4
  • 31. Psalms 7:4
  • 32. S Psalms 41:9; Psalms 89:34
  • 33. Psalms 12:2
  • 34. Proverbs 5:3; Proverbs 6:24
  • 35. Psalms 28:3; Psalms 57:4; Psalms 59:7; Psalms 64:3; Proverbs 12:18; Revelation 1:16
  • 36. S Psalms 18:35; Psalms 37:5; Matthew 6:25-34; 1 Peter 5:7
  • 37. Psalms 15:5; Psalms 21:7; Psalms 37:24; Psalms 112:6
  • 38. Psalms 9:15; S Psalms 30:3; Psalms 73:18; Psalms 94:13; Isaiah 14:15; Ezekiel 28:8; S Luke 8:31
  • 39. Psalms 5:6
  • 40. S Job 15:32; Proverbs 10:27
  • 41. Psalms 11:1; Psalms 25:2; Psalms 56:3

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. In Hebrew texts 55:1-23 is numbered 55:2-24.
  • [b]. Title: Probably a literary or musical term
  • [c]. The Hebrew has "Selah" (a word of uncertain meaning) here and in the middle of verse 19.

Chapter Summary

Psalms 55 Commentaries