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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 55

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary



Psalms 42-83 are Elohistic, i.e. they use the word God (Elohim) and avoid the proper name Yahweh, probably from motives of reverence. Here and there, however, the name Yahweh has crept into the text by a natural slip of the scribes.

Verses 1-23

LV. A Prayer for Deliverance from Treacherous Foes.

Psalms 55:1-11 . The Psalmist tells God of his disquiet and terror. His desire to flee from Jerusalem to the wilderness.

Psalms 55:12-15 . A description of the treacherous friend, ending with an imprecation: let them go down suddenly to the pit.

Psalms 55:16-19 . The Psalmist’ s continuous prayer and his trust that God will defeat his enemies.

Psalms 55:20 f. The treachery of his foes described.

Psalms 55:22 f. God’ s care for the godly: His vengeance on the wicked.

On the traditional view that David wrote this Ps., commentators, beginning with T., have identified the treacherous friend with Ahitophel (2 Samuel 15-17). He, however, was not David’ s “ equal” ( Psalms 55:14). With better reason it has been suggested that Alcimus (pp. 385, 607) is the traitor intended. He being a descendant of Aaron became High Priest with the assent of the Hasidim (see Psalms 4), but afterwards took the side of the Hellenising party. He died in 159 B.C. But this ingenious conjecture is only a conjecture after all. We do not know even approximately the date of the Ps., though we cannot doubt that it is post-exilic, nor can we explain the historical reference with any confidence. The text is very corrupt, but the corruption leaves its general sense unaltered, and the difficulties are mostly grammatical merely. There is no sufficient reason for dividing the Ps. into two.

Psalms 55:6. A reminiscence of Jeremiah 9:2. The words “ like a dove” are absent from Jer. and may be a gloss. Doves do not find their home in the wilderness.

Psalms 55:9 . The Psalmist’ s enemies go about the city walls like watchmen, but with evil purposes.

Psalms 55:12 . The traitor was apparently a high official in the Temple who, in the struggle between Jews of strict observance and Hellenising Jews, had changed sides.

Psalms 55:15 . The Psalmist is thinking of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and of their fate, as recorded in Numbers 16. The section ends with a sudden imprecation.

Psalms 55:18 . Read “ will redeem” and “ strive.”

Psalms 55:19 . Translate, “ He will hear” ( i.e. “ will hear” the Psalmist) and “ will humble them, he that is enthroned of old.” The rest of the verse is unintelligible. “ The men who have no changes” is generally taken to mean “ Men who do evil incessantly.” But this is a far-fetched and unnatural mode of expression. The VSS gives no help and no plausible emendation has been made.

Psalms 55:22 . Translate, “ Cast thy lot” ( i.e. the cares which are thy portion) “ upon Yahweh.”

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Psalms 55". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/psalms-55.html. 1919.
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