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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 55

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication.

Psalms 55:1-23.-Introduction (Psalms 55:1); prayer grounded on his deaperate condition (Psalms 55:2-8); such is the wickedness in the city that his own intimate acquaintance turned against him (Psalms 55:9-15); his confidence in the unchanging God, who will afflict the covenant-breakers, and not let the righteous be moved (Psalms 55:16-22); closing recapitulation (Psalms 55:23). Absalom's rebellious occupation of the city, and Ahithophel's treachery, are the groundwork (2 Samuel 15:12; Psalms 41:9). The details find their fullest realization in Messiah's trials, and in those of His people under Antichrist.

Neginoth - see note on title, Psalms 54:1-7.

Hide not thyself from my supplication - i:e., do not purposely ignore it. See on the phrase Deuteronomy 22:3; Isaiah 58:7; Psalms 10:1; Lamentations 3:8; Lamentations 3:44.

Verse 2

Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise;

Development of the prayer generally set forth in the introduction; two strophes (Psalms 55:2-8, and Psalms 55:9-15).

I mourn in my complaint, [ 'aariyd (H7300)] - literally, 'I wander about;' or, as Hengstenberg says the Hiphil conjugation must be translated, 'I let my thoughts wander about' - i:e., I give my sad thoughts free course. "In my complaint" ( bªsiychiy (H7879)) - literally, anxious thought, or simply meditation, (1 Samuel 1:16, margin.)

And make a noise - Hebrew, 'aahiymaah (H1949) (Psalms 55:17), "cry aloud;" to moan in perturbation of mind. The verb in the Hebrew, Qal, means 'to throw into perturbation.'

Verse 3

Because 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.

Because of the voice of the enemy - reproaching (Psalms 55:12) and cutting me like 'a drawn sword,' while outwardly uttering 'smooth' things (Psalms 55:21).

For they cast iniquity upon me - i:e., an iniquitous device (Psalms 41:7).

Verse 4

My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.

My heart is sore pained within me - literally, is agitated.

The terrors of death are fallen upon me - as the enemy threatens my life.

Verses 5-6

Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.

Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me ... And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Referred to by Jeremiah 9:2. The "dove" is specified not so much for its swiftness, as on account of its defenseless innocence. See note on title of Psalms 56:1-13. The wings of the eagle are given to the Church of God, wherewith to flee from her foe (Exodus 19:4; Revelation 12:14). "Be at rest" ( 'eshkonaah (H7931)); 'dwell secure.'

Verse 7

Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.

Lo, (then) would I wander far off - literally, 'be distant in fleeing.'

And remain - Hebrew, lodge, or pass the night.

In the wilderness - far from human society, which, though ordinarily desirable, has now become so corrupted that a solitary waste is preferable to it.

Verse 8

I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.

I would hasten my escape - not only would I gladly go, but I would hasten my escape (Hengstenberg).

From the windy storm - as the dove flies from the storm to her place of rest and refuge (Isaiah 32:2). Drusius and Maurer take the Hebrew for 'from' [ min (H4480)] comparatively: it is repeated in the Hebrew before

Tempest: 'I would hasten my escape swifter than the windy storm ... than the tempest.' This is more poetical. The wind is often the emblem of haste in Scripture (Job 30:15; Psalms 104:3).

Verse 9

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

Destroy, O Lord - literally, devour, namely, the enemies; not, as the English version, their tongues; cf. "they," Psalms 55:10, and Psalms 55:15, "Let them go down quick (i:e., alive) into hell." The allusion is to Korah and his company. So Numbers 16:32, "The earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up [the same Hebrew verb, baala` (H1104)], and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah."

Divide their tongues - i:e., make them disunited among themselves who league together to destroy the righteous. The 'divided tongues' are the organs, of divided minds. The allusion is to Genesis 11:1, "The whole earth was of one language (Hebrew, lip) and of one speech" (Hebrew, words); Psalms 55:7, the Lord said, "Let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech;" Psalms 55:9, "Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth;" cf. also Genesis 10:25. Thus David means, Do again in behalf of thy cause against the wicked the same thing as in the days of old.

For I have seen violence and strife in the city - therefore there is need for thy 'destroying' judgments upon them. "The city" is an ideal one, to represent the world given up to the prince of this world. Cain built the first earthly city, (Genesis 4:1-26.) Contrast "the city of God" coming down from heaven (Revelation 21:10-11; Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:16; Hebrews 12:22; Hebrews 13:14).

Verse 10

Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it.

Day and night they go about it - at all times.

Upon the walls thereof ... in the midst of it - in all the space of the city, alike in the exterior circumference and in the interior area. "They" - namely, violence and strife - "go about it" (Psalms 55:9), as warriors stalking round its ramparts.

Verse 11

Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.

Wickedness is in the midst thereof in contrast to deceit and guile depart not from her streets Wickedness is in the midst thereof - in contrast to deceit and guile depart not from her streets ( meerªchobaah (H7339)) - rather 'from its market-places,' which were before the gates. Thus, there is the same contrast here as in Psalms 55:10, but in reverse order, between the interior and the exterior. In the marketplace, where justice was professedly administered, "deceit and guile" prevailed; they 'departed not' at any time; there was no intermission or abatement. Also in commercial transactions in the market deceit and fraud abounded.

Verse 12

For 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:

For. In proof of the depth and universality of the corruption in the city, he instances the treacherous conduct of his own professing friend (Jeremiah 9:4).

It was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it - for I could not expect anything better from such, and I might still find consolation from it in the sympathy of friends (Psalms 41:9).

Then I would have hid myself from him. It is generally easy to get out of the way of an avowed enemy; but how can one be on his guard against a treacherous friend?

Verse 13

But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.

But it was thou, a man mine equal - literally, 'a man according to my rank' or 'estimation.' Friendship binds only equals; these it unites in the closest bonds. The Septuagint and Muis take it 'one like-minded' (Philippians 2:20).

My guide - my counselor; as Ahithophel was to David (1 Samuel 15:12; 1 Samuel 16:23).

Mine acquaintance - whom I acquainted with my secret feelings; as Jesus did toward Judas, along with the rest of the twelve (John 15:15).

Verse 14

We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company. We took sweet counsel together - literally, 'We who together made secret intimacy to sweeten.' Compare Psalms 64:2. The secret counsel (Hebrew, sod) together stands in contrast to the public fellowship in devotion.

And walked unto the house of God in company (ragesh) - rather, 'in the tumultuous crowd,' namely, of those moving up and down in the outer courts of the temple, in contrast to the still and solitary "counsel" (Hebrew, sod). Compare Psalms 42:4,

Verse 15

Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.

Let death seize upon them So the Qeri' reads-literally, 'Let death deceive upon them,' - i:e., take them by surprise [ yashiy (H5377) maawet (H4194), from naasha' (H5377), to deceive]. But the phrase, 'deceive upon' [ `al (H5921)] is without example; and this reading has arisen from a desire to make the parallelism between the first and second clauses more exact. Read, therefore, as the Kethibh or Hebrew text, '(Let) desolations [yªshiymowt] (come) upon them.'

And let them go down quick into hell - "quick," not meaning fast, but living, as Korah and his company; cf. Psalms 55:9, note, and Psalms 55:23; a sudden destruction in the midst of life and strength.

For wickedness is in their dwellings. So wicked are they that wherever they set their foot, they leave the defiling traces of their wickedness (Muis).

Verses 16-21

As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me.

-Third strophe. His confident hope, resting upon the grounds stated in the previous prayer.

Verse 16,17. As for me ... Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray ( 'aasiychaah (H7878), from siyach (H7878)) - literally, 'meditate;' meditative prayer. The Hebrews, in counting their day, began it with the evening. This and morning and mid-day form the three turning points of the whole day; so that he who wished to consecrate the whole day to God (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17) would naturally connect these three with stated prayer (Daniel 6:10; Acts 10:9). Evening and morning prayers were at least as old as the evening and morning sacrifice; and this passage implies that the custom which we know prevailed subsequently, of the three-fold time of prayer, was probably in existence in David's time.

And cry aloud - vehement earnestness like that of Jesus in the days of his flesh (Hebrews 5:7), not irreverent Verse 21. The words of his mouth were smoother than butter. So the Chaldaic. The parallelism also favours this - "smoother than butter," answering to "softer than oil." [The reading thus will be meechªmaa'owt (H4260).] But the present reading [ machªmaa'ot (H4260)] is literally, 'smooth are the butter-masses (i:e., the sweetnesses) of his mouth.'

Verse 22

Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

The Psalmist's confidence in the Lord suggests the encouraging self-exhortation to cast his burden upon the Lord. His spiritual and higher nature addresses his lower and weaker nature (Psalms 27:14; Psalms 42:5; Psalms 42:11). The relation of this verse to Psalms 55:16-21 shows that "cast thy burden upon the Lord" is primarily addressed to himself; secondarily, it belongs to all God's children when in distress, as the Psalmist is their representative. The Hebrew ( yªhaabªkaa (H3053)) for "burden" is literally, 'thy gift," the portion assigned thee. The Septuagint and Syriac translate, 'thy anxiety;' Kimchi, "thy burden," as the word is used in Arabic (cf. 1 Peter 5:7).

And he shall sustain thee. Thes words favour the sense, not thy burden of distress, but thy maintenance given by God, (Genesis 45:11; Genesis 48:15, end; Psalms 23:5). The believer casts the provision of this gift upon Him to whom he daily saith, "Give us this day our daily bread."

He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved - finally from their confidence in the Lord, nor to be perpetually agitated by trials (Psalms 121:3).

Verse 23

But 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.

Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days - literally, 'men of bloods and of deceit shall not halve their days' (Psalms 102:23; Proverbs 10:27).

But I will trust in thee - and therefore shall be delivered (Psalms 52:8).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 55". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/psalms-55.html. 1871-8.
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