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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 55

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book PsalmsScott on the Psalms

Verses 1-23

Psalms 55:1-23.

V. 1. Hide not thyself, &c.] That is, ’Do not disregard my prayer, nor leave me to myself, when .cry for help in my extreme distiess.’ (Notes, Psalms 28:1 Lamentations 3:2-9; Lamentations 5:8.)

V. 2. David’s prayer, under great discomposure o mind was attended by lamentations, sighs, and groans

(Notes, Psalms 22:1-2. Psalms 32:3-5. Isaiah 38:14-15. Hosea 12:3-6. Romans 8:24-27. Hebrews 5:7-10.)

V. 3. They cast iniquity, &c.] This psalm is suppose to have been composed during Absalom’s rebellion. Th< leaders of that faction, both out of malice, and to strength their party, charged David with various crimes of which h was not guilty. (Notes, 2 Samuel 15:16. P. O. 1 -12 Note, Psalms 16:5-11.) Thus Christ was falsely accused those who had taken counsel to put him to death.

V. 4- 8. In general David shewed the firmest courage in the most extreme dangers : but the unnatural rebellion of Absalom, which he knew to be the correction of his sin in the matter of Uriah, quite unmanned him ; and lie was filled with terror and consternation. (Notes, 2 Samuel 15:13-23.) Nay, he was become so weary of the treachery and ingratitude of men, and of the cares and disappointments of his high station ; that he longed to have done with society, and to hide himself in some desert from the fury and fickleness of his people. He wished, in his haste, for the wings of the harmless dove, that he might " fly away and be at rest ; " and his varied expressions, and the representation of the popular commotion cis a violent tempest, shew the vehement agitation of his mind. (Note, Psalms 116:10-11.) Yet in his more collected moments he could not approve of such a wish : he was not at liberty to leave his useful station ; he could find no rest any where, but in God, with whom he might commune in the midst of society ; and he must wait for his more perfect rest, till he had fully served his generation. ’ These words describe ’ the state of David’s mind, when he went over the brook ’ Cedron, and up mount Olivet, " weeping as he went," ’and expecting speedily to be cutoff: . .. they describe ’ the agony of the son of David, when he likewise went ’ over the same brook Cedron, ... at the time of his passion, when his soul was " sore amazed, and very heavy, ’ " and exceeding sorrowful even unto death." ’ Bp. Home.

It may be added, that at that awful crisis the Saviour also prayed, " If it be possible, let this cup pass from me , " nevertheless not my will but thine be done:"

(Notes, Matthew 26:36-39; Matthew 26:42-46. John 18:1-3:) and David likewise speedily recovered his composure, and said, " Behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good " unto him."

(Notes, 2 Samuel 15:24-29.) The several expressions concur in fixing this period as the date of the psalm ; and do not coincide with any thing, that is recorded of David, during his persecution by Saul.

This he perceived at the hreaking out of Absalom’s rebellion, and therefore he would not venture to continue there. (Note, 2 Samuel 15:13-15.) And when the usurper had got possession, mischief and sorrow, wickedness and guile, occupied the city in every part, parading it day and night, and guarding it against every approach of piety, equity, and loyalty, as against the most dangerous foes. (Note, 2 Samuel 16:15-23.) David therefore prayed, that the Lord would render the devices of the usurpers like Babel, by confounding their language and counsels, and thus leaving them to disunion, and mutual jealousies and suspicions. This was granted, when Hushai’s counsel was preferred to Ahithophel’s ; and when that crafty politician, the stay of the whole party, went and hanged himself. (Notes, 2 Samuel 15:3; 2 Samuel 17:1 to 2 Samuel 14:23.) Thus the nation of the Jews, after they had rejected Christ, were destroyed by being divided : and Jerusalem, having become the scene of every enormity, was miserably desolated by the Romans. (Notes, Matthew 23:34-39.)

V. 12- 15. Ahithophel’s treachery was peculiarly distressing to David; and it was the more painful for being wholly unsuspected. So far from having been an avowed enemy, who now took occasion to reproach him, and to exult in his calamities, or menace his life ; Ahithophel had been David’s counsellor and bosom-friend, and had been treated by him as an equal, or as one of his own rank : he had also been his chosen and pleasing companion, in the exercise of religion, and in pious conversation. Yet this very man, without any affront, or previous quarrel, became an apostate and a traitor, and gave Absalom the most malicious and infernal counsel imaginable ! (Notes, 2 Samuel 16:20-23; 2 Samuel 17:1-4.) Thus Christ was betrayed by one. whom he had honoured as a companion, a disciple, and an apostle ; and who resembled Ahithophel in his crimes and in his doom : for both were speedily overtaken by divine vengeance, in the same dreadful manner. (Note, 2 Samuel 17:23. Matthew 27:3-5. John 13:18-30.) This was foretold by David concerning Ahithophel, and by Jesus concerning Judas : for the words are in the future, and more naturally signify a prediction, than an imprecation. (Marg. Ref.) ’ The sudden destruction of Korah, ’ Dathan, and Abiram, who, for stirring up rebellion ’ against Moses and Aaron, " went down alive into the ’ " pit," seems here alluded to ; as the grand representation of the manner, in which the bottomless pit shall ’ one day shut her mouth for ever upon all the impenitent enemies of the true King of Israel, and great High Priest of our profession.’ Bp. Horne.

V. 16, 17. Notes, Psalms 50:7-15. Psalms 109:25. Luke 6:12. Evening, &c. (17) Probably this was David’s general practice ; from which he was not diverted by any of his troubles, but was rather made the more earnest in it. (Marg-. Ref. Notes, Daniel 6:10-11. Acts 10:9-16.) ( I will never give over my importunity, till he graciously grant my petition, and send me relief.’ Bp. Patrick.

V. 18. As this verse is in the past tense, while those which precede and follow it are future ; the Psalmist seems to refer to his former experience of the Lord’s goodness and faithful care of him ; and tlius to encourage himself and his friends to expect a happy event to their present perils. (Notes, 1 Samuel 17:34-37. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.) In former instances, when far superior forces had attacked him, God had delivered him in peace, and made him triumphant ; for his invisible protectors and helpers were more numerous and powerful than all his visible foes.

(Notes, 2 Kings 6:15-17 Thus our Lord said, "Think" est thou, that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he " shall presently give me more than twelve legions of " angels ? " And angels terrified and drove away the Roman soldiers, rolled away the stone from the sepulchre, and attended his resurrection and ascension. (Notes, Matthew 26:47-56; Matthew 28:1-8.)

V. 19. He who inhabiteth eternity," (Notes, Deuteronomy 33:27-28. Isaiah 57:15-16. Micah 5:2,) hearing the prayers of his distressed servants, would certainly punish their persecutors ; who had been hardened in impiety, by uninterrupted prosperity. Or, God would certainly afflict them, because they would not turn and fear him. V. 20, 21. Absalom, or Ahithophel, seems to have been here intended : but the character and language of crafty flattering courtiers, and of malicious dissemblers, in all ages, is emphatically described. Thus Judas betrayed Christ, while he said, " Hail, Master, and kissed him." (Marg. Ref.)

V. 22. ’ Whatever God has given or allotted thee, commit it all to his keeping by faith and prayer.’ This is the way of peace and safety.

(Notes, Psalms 37:5-8. Matthew 6:25-34. Philippians 4:5-7. 1 Peter 5:5-7.)" He will not " suffer the righteous, to be moved for ever."

(Note, Psalms 37:27-28.)

V. 23. Half their days."] Such persons, as are here described, generally come to a violent end, before half the years are elapsed, which they might otherwise have been expected to live. (Marg. Ref. Notes, 2 Samuel 17:23; 2 Samuel 18:9; 2 Samuel 18:14.)


The most excellent persons have always experienced the basest treatment in this evil world : and the more any mere man has resembled the Son of God, in heavenly zeal and purity ; the more has he been traduced and hated by them, whose crimes he opposed, or whose hypocrisy he detected. The clamours and oppression, the calumnies and malice, of ungodly men may, however, be the more easily endured, if we possess peace of conscience, and a sweet sense of the livine favour. But when our sufferings from men excite in us the sense, or the dread, of the anger of our offended God ; when a guilty conscience gives Satan advantage in assaulting our peace, and sapping the foundations of our hope ; we must needs " mourn in our complaint," and the thoughts of our hearts will often become like the tempestuous waves of the restless ocean : so that, in this case, even eminent believers have been rilled for a time with in- expressible horror and consternation. Yet none of them was ever so overwhelmed with terror and anguish, as the holy Jesus was ; when " it pleased the LORD to bruise ’ him, to put him to grief, and to make his soul an offering for our sins." But in " his agony he prayed more " earnestly," and was heard and delivered : and if we trust in his merits, and copy his example, we too shall be supported under all, and carried through all. Those, who are most conversant with mankind, will see the most to disquiet, discourage, and disgust them ; if they have a spiritual judgment, and are labouring to do pood. Disappointment and vexation, arising from the experience of the inconstancy, ingratitude, and treachery of mankind in general, will sometimes render them weary of the most eminent stations, and honourable services; and make them long for retirement and obscurity, where they may no longer witness the miseries and crimes which they cannot prevent. This should induce us all to seek our rest in God, and to be willing to depart hence to a better world when he pleases : but we must not be " weary of well-doing," or relinquish our work, till our Lord and Master release us : and at last no change can add to our present continued happiness, except that which augments our holiness. No wickedness so distresses the believer, as that which he witnesses in the visible church of God : with anguish of heart he often perceives violence and discord in the congregations, where the gospel of peace is preached and professed ; by which the common cause is weakened, the truth disgraced, and far more mischief done than by all the fury of persecutors. When professed Christians forsake God, and give way to malice, wickedness, and deceit ; destruction and sorrow are at hand : disunion of heart, and intestine quarrels, make way for further evils ; and, instead of a holy city, a Babel will be erected, which must also be destroyed. The true Christian must expect trials from professed friends, from those whom he has most trusted and served, and even from those, with whom he has taken sweet counsel, and associated in the ordinances of God. This will be very painful, but by looking unto Jesus he will be enabled to bear it. Though we must not pray for the destruction of our most treacherous injurers; yet we may warn them of the doom of those, who before them have trodden in the same path : and in every possible trial let us " call upon the LORD, and he will save us." Our souls need spiritual nourishment at least as often as our bodies need food : but we generally starve in the midst of abundance ; because we pray so seldom, so superficially, and so formally. David had more loyal subjects than he expected ; Christ had more favourers than appeared, when the general cry was, " Crucify him, crucify " him : " and there are more true Christians, and believers have more real friends, than in their gloomy hours they suppose. If however God be for us, he will deliver our souls in peace from every conflict, whether few or many side with us : and it is better to have changes and afflictions, than to be hardened by uninterrupted prosperity, and thus emboldened to treachery and cruelty ; which generally end in untimely death, and bring men down into the pit of destruction. Flatterers, whose words are soft and insinuating, are always to be suspected and dreaded for many of this company " have war in their hearts : " and by smooth, deceitful language do more harm, than they could have done with their dra, u swords. But let us learn to trust only in the Lord, and to cast every burden upon him, by faith and prayer : for he will never suffer the righteous to be moved, either for want of inward sup- ports, or outward protection. And, having thus found comfort ourselves, let us exhort and encourage our afflicted brethren to apply for the same relief.

Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 55". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tsp/psalms-55.html. 1804.
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