Psalm 55:1-23

To the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. A Contemplation of David.

1 Give ear to my prayer, O God,
And do not hide Yourself from my supplication.

Attend to me, and hear me;
I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily,

Because of the voice of the enemy,
Because of the oppression of the wicked;
For they bring down trouble upon me,
And in wrath they hate me.

My heart is severely pained within me,
And the terrors of death have fallen upon me.

Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me,
And horror has overwhelmed me.

So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.

Indeed, I would wander far off,
And remain in the wilderness. Selah

I would hasten my escape
From the windy storm and tempest.”

Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues,
For I have seen violence and strife in the city.

10 Day and night they go around it on its walls;
Iniquity and trouble are also in the midst of it.

11 Destruction is in its midst;
Oppression and deceit do not depart from its streets.

12 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me;
Then I could bear it.
Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me;
Then I could hide from him.

13 But it was you, a man my equal,
My companion and my acquaintance.

14 We took sweet counsel together,
And walked to the house of God in the throng.

15 Let death seize them;
Let them go down alive into hell,
For wickedness is in their dwellings and among them.

16 As for me, I will call upon God,
And the Lord shall save me.

17 Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.

18 He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me,
For there were many against me.

19 God will hear, and afflict them,
Even He who abides from of old. Selah
Because they do not change,
Therefore they do not fear God.

20 He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him;
He has 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 they were drawn swords.

22 Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

23 But You, O God, shall bring them down to the pit of destruction;
Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days;
But I will trust in You.

moan noisily (v.2) = made an uproar, express great agitation

severely pained (v.4) = lit. trembling, the tremors brought on by anxiety

terrors (v.4) = dread

Though the situation underlying this psalm is unspecified, a clue as to what it may have been is indicated by his wish (in v.6) that he had wings like a dove that he might fly away and be at rest (doves being prone to fly about and dwell in places inaccessible to hunters), which recalls David’s words in 1 Samuel 26:20, when he was cornered by Saul in the wilderness of Ziph. — Wechsler, page 154.

divide their tongues (v.9) — If this psalm was written about the time of Absalom and Ahithophel’s rebellion, this prayer would seem to have been answered in 2 Samuel 17:1-14. This may be a reference to Babel.

my companion and my acquaintance (v.12) — “acquaintance” can be translated “familiar friend” or even “relative” (as in Ruth 2:1). This could apply, in David’s case to either Saul or Absalom.

As typically in his psalms of lament and complaint, David finds solace despite his situation (i.e., before it has been resolved) by affirming what he knows God will do — not by presuming upon God with what David wants Him to do, but rather affirming what He Himself has said He will do, and, because He is faithful to His word (1 Samuel 15:29), what we who are His children have every right to expect Him to do. — Wechsler, page 155.

moved (v.22) = never lose or be separated — from his promised inheritance of life in the eternity in the presence of God.

Williams’ take:

The conduct of Absalom and Ahithophel (2 Samuel 15) illustrate but do not exhaust the Psalm. It concerns the hatred and treachery which Messiah suffered personally in the days of His flesh; and which He now suffers, and will yet suffer, in sympathy with His people (Colossians 1:24).

As predicted in Daniel 11 and John 5:43, the majority of the Jews will accept Anti-Christ as the promised Messiah. He will make a covenant with them, and, with them, cruelly persecute the believing minority. But after a little time he will break the covenant and seek to destroy them all. This is the covenant referred to in verse 20; and his is the hypocrisy of verse 11. — Williams, page 342

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