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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 55

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-8


It has been assumed that the occasion for this psalm is the betrayal of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 15:31). It is an assumption that has sound grounds, especially when it comes to the prophetic application. David has to deal with the betrayal of Ahithophel, the Lord Jesus with the betrayal of Judas, and the remnant with the betrayal of the antichrist. Judas and the antichrist are both called “the son of destruction” (John 17:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:3).

The reason for David’s feelings is the betrayal of a friend. Achitofel is at first a trusted advisor to David. But after Absalom has seized the throne of David, Ahithophel has defected to Absalom. In this psalm we hear something of David’s intense grief over this betrayal. In this respect there is a parallel with Psalm 41, where David also complains about the betrayal by a friend (Psalms 41:6-1 Samuel :).

We also hear in the psalm Christ’s Spirit in David, that is, David is interpreting what the Savior felt at the betrayal by Judas. We also hear what the remnant is going through in the end times because of the conspiracy of the antichrist and his followers against them.

Prayer in Distress

For “for the choir director; on stringed instruments” (Psalms 55:1) see at Psalm 4:1.

This psalm is “a Maskil of David”. It is the last “maskil” or ‘teaching’ or ‘instruction’ in the small row of maskil or teaching psalms (Psalms 52-55). In these psalms there are teachings for the whole people of God, that is, the part that is faithful to God, in the time of the great tribulation.

These psalms all have to do with teaching about the antichrist. Through this teaching, the wise, the maskilim, will be able to calculate the number of this beast (Revelation 13:18). For “a maskil” see further at Psalm 32:1.

David starts the psalm by asking God to give ear to his prayer, to listen to it (Psalms 55:1; Psalms 34:15). He also asks that God not hide Himself from his supplication. God’s not listening to him is the same as God hiding Himself from him. When God hears his prayer, it means that He gives all His attention to David.

Therefore, David then asks if God still pays attention to him and prove it by answering him (Psalms 55:2). He points out to God that he wanders restlessly in his “complaint” and that he is “surely distracted”. Surely God hears his complaining and distraction. This wandering around and these expressions of distress are caused by “the voice of the enemy” and “the pressure of the wicked that bring down trouble” upon him (Psalms 55:3). This marks the severity of the situation.

Injustice is on him by people who “in anger … bear a grudge against” him. By this he means the slander that his enemy throws around loudly about him. The enemy does so with a hatred that is fueled by anger. That enemy is “the wicked”, the man who has no regard for God, but is an instrument of the devil. The grimness with which he rages causes David great fear.

His heart trembles is in anguish within him because of it (Psalms 55:4). He has no control over it. His heart knows no rest, but goes wild within him, for he is overcome by “terrors of death”. Terrifying visages that represent death appear to him. “Fear and trembling” come upon him, or in him, and “horror has overwhelmed” him (Psalms 55:5).

For this reason, he says that he would like to flee the city, in which hatred and violence are coming upon him from all sides (Psalms 55:6). The word “oh” is the sigh that comes from a mind that is in deep distress. He wishes someone would give him “wings like a dove”. A dove is a defenseless animal that seeks its safety in lonely places, where no people live (cf. Song of Solomon 2:14; Jeremiah 48:28). David was eager to fly away like a dove – a dove can fly non-stop for up to fifteen hours – to such a region to stay there, to live there and be at rest there.

That would not be a region close by. He would “wander far away” (Psalms 55:7), far away from trouble. There he would “lodge in the wilderness” (cf. Jeremiah 9:2). The nights in particular are full of dangers. If he were in the wilderness, he would be safe in the night as well. He would hurry to escape, for the threat of being seized is great (Psalms 55:8). David compares the advancing enemy to “the stormy wind” and “tempest”. He is unpredictable like a stormy wind and destructive like a tempest.

This prayer will also be prayed by the believing remnant in the end times. In view of that time, the time of the great tribulation, the Lord Jesus tells His disciples to flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:16-Proverbs :). And God will provide the remnant with wings to flee from the dragon, the devil, into the wilderness (Revelation 12:13-2 Chronicles :).

Verses 9-15

Betrayed by an Acquaintance

David asks for the intervention of the “Lord”, Adonai, the sovereign Ruler and Commander of the universe (Psalms 55:9). He is asking the Lord to “confuse”, literally “swallow up” his enemies, which is to eat them greedily. He also asks if God will “divide their tongues”, causing division among them. Herein is clearly a reference to the confusion of language at the building of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-1 Samuel :).

The enemy’s greatest weapon is their tongue. When the Lord causes a confusion of language among His enemies, their coherence is lost, much like it was in the confusion of language God gave at the building of the tower of Babel. They cannot then continue to forge pernicious plans because they no longer understand each other.

The reason for his question is that he sees “violence and strife in the city” (cf. Habakkuk 1:3). By the city is meant Jerusalem. David himself is not in the city, but prophetically it is about the remnant and they will be in the city. He has heard how things are in the city. He has been told that in a way that he can visualize it. It hurts David that that city is terrorized by the enemy and the wicked. They call the shots in the city.

It is so bad, in fact, that violence and strife surround the city because it is upon its walls that surround it (Psalms 55:10). The walls, which normally guarantee safety and protection for the city from evil because they have faithful guards on them, no longer offer that safety and protection at all. On the contrary, on the walls parade people who protect iniquity and mischief in the midst of the city. And they do so day and night, that is, incessantly.

“In her midst”, down to the inner city, destruction is at work (Psalms 55:11). “Her streets”, where everyday life takes place, is mired in “oppression and deceit”. All social life is ineradicably permeated by it. All classes of the population employ trickery and deceit.

After complaining about what is going on in the city, his city, David goes on to complain about a specific person (Psalms 55:12). The reproach of enemies is bad, but this is to be expected, it is in a way ‘normal’ and understandable. He could bear it too, even though it should hurts and cause fear. And for his hater who exalted himself against him, he could hide himself so that he were no longer exposed to his hatred.

But the person he is about to describe is neither an enemy nor a hater, but a “man” [Hebrew enosh, mortal man], of whom he says he is “my equal” (Psalms 55:13). David’s putting it this way indicates that he is speaking as a king and placing the other person as on his level. Achitofel – if David is thinking of him, which is likely – is not a king is, but the antichrist will be a king. It shows how much he has valued this person who in himself is no more than a mortal man.

The designation “my companion and my familiar friend” emphasizes the special relationship that existed between David and this person. This does apply to Ahithophel who was David’s “companion” and who was a “familiar friend” to David, an intimate (cf. Psalms 41:9).

David describes the relationship with his companion and familiar friend as “sweet fellowship” (Psalms 55:14). He describes his dealings with him as intimate. It reflects the intimacy of the close friendship he had with him. As a culmination of their close dealings with each other, David mentions that they walked “in the house of God in the throng”.

Prophetically we see this in the first half of the last year week of Daniel. Then the believing remnant and the unbelieving mass of the Jews, under the leadership of the antichrist, will go together to the newly rebuilt temple in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27). The antichrist will take the lead and act very piously. Halfway through that year week, he will throw off his mask and show his true face. The mask comes off with the prohibition of further sacrifice and the erection of the abomination of destruction in the temple (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15).

The anguish of the reproach and betrayal of such a person leads David to the sudden exclamation that “death come deceitfully upon them” (Psalms 55:15). David speaks in the plural, “them”. His former friend is not his only betrayer. However, that friend’s betrayal has affected him most deeply and brought him to this exclamation. The punishment that comes over it is to “go down alive to Sheol”, which brings to mind the judgment on Korah’s entourage and on the antichrist (Numbers 16:30-Micah :; Revelation 19:20).

This must happen to them, “for evil is in their dwelling, in their midst”. Their innermost being –that is, their deepest inner being, the center of their being – is a dwelling place of only evil, pernicious things. Nor is it a temporary dwelling, but a permanent habitation. Evil rules there, wielding the scepter and governing their complete will, speech and action.

Verses 16-21

God Will Hear

In contrast to what David wishes in Psalms 55:15 for his betrayers, people who turn against God and His godly ones, he will cry out to God (Psalms 55:16). His adversaries go down to Sheol. For himself he expresses the assurance that “the LORD”, Yahweh, will save him.

He goes to God “evening and morning and at noon” with complain and murmur (Psalms 55:17; cf. Daniel 6:11). It indicates that he is constantly calling upon to God (1 Thessalonians 5:17). He prays, so to speak, ‘around the clock’. That he mentions the evening first is because in Israel the day usually begins on the evening of the previous day (Leviticus 23:32). He is confident that God will hear his voice.

In confidence of faith, David expresses that God will redeem his “soul in peace from the battle” which is against him (Psalms 55:18). To his mind, redemption has already taken place. The battle is over. The many who were against him are no longer fighting against him. The peace that he has lost because of his friend’s betrayal and the opposition of many has returned to his soul now that he has entrusted everything to God.

He knows that “God will hear and answer them” (Psalms 55:19). After all, God is the One “who sits enthroned from of old”. David’s enemies can drive him from his throne, but it is impossible to drive God from the throne. God sits on the throne and governs everything. His government is for the benefit of His own and means judgment for the wicked.

The wicked are judged “because with them is no change and they do not fear God”. God speaks to man several times to turn him from his path of error (Job 33:14-Esther :). But if they remain unchanging in their way of life and go their own way, He will humble them. Their reliance on their own strength and ability proves that they do not fear God, that they do not have any respect for Him.

That they do not change and do not fear God, they show by putting their hands forth “against those who were at peace with him” (Psalms 55:20). Once again David refers to the faithless actions of his companion and familiar friend. That one had taken advantage of him by seeking his misfortune, while David was at peace with him. By that treacherous action he violated the covenant of friendship.

The betrayal is the betrayal of the mouth (Psalms 55:21). His speech was “smoother than butter” (cf. Proverbs 16:28; Jeremiah 9:4-Deuteronomy :). He is a slippery hypocrite, someone you cannot depend on at all, whose words have no value. The buttery smoothness of his mouth camouflages his heart that is out for battle (Jeremiah 9:8). His heart is brimming with plans to fight his friend.

The words that come out of his mouth “are softer than oil” (cf. Proverbs 5:3). Oil is meant to relief pain (Isaiah 1:6). His words, however, do not relief pain, but cause pain, for “they were drawn swords”. His sweet talk is life-threatening, for he is out to cause death and destruction.

Verses 22-23

Trust in God

After the peace of Psalms 55:18, the weight of worry or burden can be cast upon the LORD (Psalms 55:22). In Psalm 37, David said, to himself and to others, to commit their way to the LORD (Psalms 37:5). Now he says they should cast their burden upon Him. The answer to trials is not to run away from them, but to cast them on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7). This presupposes an activity on the part of the believer; he must do so.

When he does, the paralyzing effect of the trials ceases and the foundation for constant trust is laid. Whatever the trial or difficulty may be, we may cast it upon the Lord. Then the trial still exists, but He, the Lord, will “sustain” us in the midst of it.

In His unfailing faithfulness He is with us in the trial. This is not a temporary thing. We will find that He will “never allow the righteous to be shaken”. This is better than the absence of evil. It is impossible for Him to allow evil to gain victory. We must learn to trust in Him in the midst of evil. He still allows evil to exist to sustain us in the midst of it.

The men of blood and deceit, such as Ahithophel and Judas, prematurely descended into the pit of destruction (Psalms 55:23; 2 Samuel 17:14; 2 Samuel 17:23; Matthew 27:5). David, on the other hand, trusts in God. God will hear him and save him, support him under his burden, give him everything he needs to fulfill his task on earth. David will serve “the purpose of God in his own generation” (Acts 13:36) and then be received by God in glory.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 55". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-55.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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