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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 55

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-23

A Complaint of False Friends.

To the chief musician on Neginoth, to be rendered with the accompaniment of stringed instruments in public worship, Maschil, a psalm of David.

v. 1. Give ear to my prayer, O God, as usual, a strong expression for listening attentively; and hide not Thyself from my supplication, pretending to withhold His answer to David's earnest and importunate pleading.

v. 2. Attend unto me, marking closely what he had to say, and hear me. I mourn in my complaint, reeling to and fro in painful meditation, which seemed to lead to no solution, and make a noise, groaning with pain,

v. 3. because of the voice of the enemy, as he was compelled to hear it, because of the oppression of the wicked, the burden laid upon him by their hatred; for they cast iniquity upon me, the picture being that of a heavy load rolled down from a tower or mountain, making him moan and groan with its weight, and in wrath they hate me, acting against him with deceit and treachery.

v. 4. My heart is sore pained within me, his inmost soul writhing with the agony laid upon him; and the terrors of death are fallen upon me, such as threatened death, taking away all hope of life.

v. 5. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, like enemies attacking him, and horror hath overwhelmed me, its shades enveloping him and filling him with the deepest gloom.

v. 6. And I said, Oh, that I had wings like a dove! a figure of powerful and rapid flight, for then would I fly away and be at rest, find a haven of security somewhere far from the oppression and treachery of the enemies.

v. 7. Lo, then would I wander far off, flee to a great distance, and remain in the wilderness, the usual place of refuge for the persecuted and oppressed. Selah.

v. 8. I would hasten my escape, hurrying with the greatest speed to a place of refuge, from the windy storm and tempest, for the rushing violence of the enemies intended his ruin. Such was the situation in which David found himself, not unlike that which sometimes threatens Christians even in our days; hence his pleading cry.

v. 9. Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues, swallowing them up and confounding their speech and therefore also their counsels; for I have seen violence and strife in the city, Jerusalem having become a hotbed of anarchy under the influence of the conspirators.

v. 10. Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof, the enemies keeping a careful watch, spying upon the righteous; mischief also and sorrow, harm of every kind, are in the midst of it.

v. 11. Wickedness is in the midst thereof, due to the treacherous agitation of the conspirators; deceit and guile depart not from her streets, from the open spaces or public concourses near the gates where the treacherous plans were passed on to others.

v. 12. For it was not an enemy that reproached me, since in the case of an open adversary the situation would not have been so serious ; then I could have borne it, for one expects no other treatment from an outspoken enemy, one endures his hostility; neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me, seeking to carry out plans prompted by false ambition; then I would have hid myself from him, a course which he could not pursue with regard to a secret, treacherous foe, concerning whom one never knows when he will strike.

v. 13. But it was thou, a man mine equal, whom David esteemed of the same rank with himself, my guide and mine acquaintance, rather, "my companion and my intimate friend," the reference probably being to Ahithophel, the Gilonite, 2 Samuel 15:12.

v. 14. We took sweet counsel, enjoying the intimacy of friendship, together and walked into the house of God in company, associating also in public, at the great festivals of Israel, when their close companionship was witnessed by all the people. Such conduct in betraying the love of a pure friendship fills David with righteous anger, causing him to call upon God for revenge.

v. 15. Let death seize upon them, the treacherous friends, and let them go down quick into hell, into the realm of death, with a living body as in the case of Korah, Numbers 16:30; for wickedness is in their dwellings and among them, within the hearts. This was said without a feeling of personal hatred and vengeance, as a call for the punishment of God upon such as were wicked beyond the hope of correction.

v. 16. As for me, placing his own person in emphatic opposition to his enemies, I will call upon God, in fervent and constant prayer; and the Lord shall save me, that being the firm conviction of his faith.

v. 17. Evening and morning and at noon, the three principal periods of the day usually observed as special times of prayer, will I pray and cry aloud, complaining and moaning; and He shall hear my voice.

v. 18. He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle, or war, that was against me, granting him peace and security; for there were many with me, rather, "for with many are they against me," a multitude being arrayed against him.

v. 19. God shall hear and afflict them, hearing their fierce tumult and answering them as the stern Judge, even He that abideth of old, the Refuge of the believers from everlasting to everlasting. Selah. Because they have no changes, were unwilling to turn from their evil conduct, their treacherous behavior, therefore they fear not God. It is such people whom the vengeance of the Lord will strike.

v. 20. He, the treacherous friend described above, hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him, profaning the solemn covenant of intimate friendship; he hath broken his covenant, that of mutual faithfulness.

v. 21. The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, with oily hypocrisy, but war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, dripping smoothness and good will, yet were they drawn swords, his entire behavior being hypocrisy and deceit. For his own consolation David cries out:

v. 22. Cast thy burden upon the Lord, the word referring to every believer's lot in life, whatever may be laid upon him according to the gracious will of his heavenly Father, and He shall sustain thee; He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved, preventing the believer's sinking to the ground under the burden assigned him.

v. 23. But Thou, O God, shalt bring them, the false friends, down into the pit of destruction, to the pit or depth of the grave, a prey of an unwelcome death; bloody and deceitful men, who delight in treachery and violence, shall not live out half their days, not live half as long as ordinary conditions would seem to warrant. But I will trust in Thee, the believers of all times joining him in this implicit trust in God.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Psalms 55". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/psalms-55.html. 1921-23.
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