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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
Psalms 55:13

But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend;
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   Ahithophel;   Friends;   Friendship;   Hypocrisy;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Prophecies Respecting Christ;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ahithophel;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Friend, Friendship;   Know, Knowledge;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ahithophel;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Absalom;   Ahithophel;   Judas Iscariot;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Greek Versions of Ot;   Psalms;   Sin;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Ahithophel;   God;   Psalms the book of;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Abiathar;   Guide;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Ahithophel;  

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Psalms 55:0 Betrayed by a friend

David is worried and uncertain. He has found that so-called friends have been plotting against him (e.g. Ahithophel; 2 Samuel 15:12,2 Samuel 15:31; 2 Samuel 17:1-3) and he knows not which way to turn. He remembers things he saw certain people do and realizes now that they were treacherously aimed at his downfall (1-3).

Overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness, David fears that death is upon him (4-5). He wishes that he could escape from it all. He would like to fly away like a bird, so that he could find a quiet place where he could shelter from the storm (6-8). Then he thinks again of the murderous plans that people have laid against him. Along the city walls, around the streets, in the market places, people plot against him (9-11). Most heart-breaking of all is the knowledge that the person behind this plotting is the one he thought was his closest friend (12-14). Such traitors deserve a fitting punishment (15).
In his distress David turns to God and his faith awakens. He knows that God will save those who trust in him, and overthrow those who deliberately ignore him (16-19). But he cannot forget his false friend and the treacherous way his friend has lied to him (20-21). He decides finally that the only way to be relieved of the burden on his mind is to hand it over to God. He is confident that God will look after the righteous and punish the wicked (22-23).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Psalms 55:13". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bbc/​psalms-55.html. 2005.

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

But it was thou, a man mine equal - Margin, “a man according to my rank.” Septuagint, ἰσόψυχε isopsuche, equal-souled, like-souled, “second self” (Thompson); Vulgate, “unanimus,” of the same mind; Luther, “Geselle,” companion. The Hebrew word used here - ערך êrek - means properly a row or pile, as of the showbread piled one loaf on another, Exodus 40:23; then it would naturally mean one of the same row or pile; of the same rank or condition. The word also means price, estimation, or value, Job 28:13; Leviticus 5:15, Leviticus 5:18; Leviticus 6:6. Here the expression may mean a man “according to my estimation, value, or price;” that is, of the same value as myself (Gesenius, Lexicon); or more probably it means a man of my own rank; according to my condition; that is, a man whom I esteemed as my equal, or whom I regarded and treated as a friend.

My guide - The word used here properly denotes one who is familiar - a friend - from the verb אלף 'âlaph - to be associated with; to be familiar; to be accustomed to. The noun is frequently used to denote a military leader - the head of a tribe - a chieftain; and is, in this sense, several times employed in Genesis 36:0 to denote the leaders or princes of the Edomites, where it is rendered duke. But here it seems to be used, not in the sense of a leader or a guide, but of a familiar friend.

And mine acquaintance - The word used here is derived from the verb to know - ידע yâda‛ - and the proper idea is that of “one well known” by us; that is, one who keeps no secrets from us, but who permits us to understand him thoroughly. The phrase “mine acquaintance” is a feeble expression, and does not convey the full force of the original, which denotes a more intimate friend than would be suggested by the word “acquaintance.” It is language applied to one whom we thoroughly “know,” and who “knows us;” and this exists only in the case of very intimate friends. All the expressions used in this verse would probably be applicable to Ahithophel, and to the intimacy between him and David.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 55:13". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bnb/​psalms-55.html. 1870.

Smith's Bible Commentary

Psalms 55:1-23

Psalms 55:1-23 :

Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise; 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 ( Psalms 55:1-3 ).

I told you, David was capable of inspiring hate or love. You either loved the guy or hated the guy. And the feelings towards David were quite strong. And he was always praying about his enemies, and those that were after him, and those that were seeking to destroy him.

"For they cast iniquity upon me, in wrath they hate me."

My heart is sore pain within me: the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. And I said, Oh that I had the wings like a dove! for I would fly out of this place, and be at rest. Lo, then I would wonder far off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and the tempest. Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go upon the walls thereof: and mischief also and the sorrows are in the midst of it. Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets ( Psalms 55:4-11 ).

Now David evidently wrote this psalm when he was fleeing from Absalom. For David's close counselor and friend, Ahithophel, actually revolted against David when Absalom did. He went with Absalom. And Ahithophel began to counsel Absalom on how to destroy David. This is the thing that really hurt David, is that Absalom had turned against him. David said,

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: But it was you, a man mine equal, my guide, my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, we walked into the house of God in company ( Psalms 55:12-14 ).

So David is so hurt because it really wasn't an enemy to David that had done such a dirty thing to him, but it was a fellow that he had had beautiful fellowship with. They had talked together. They had counseled together. They had gone into the house of God and fellowshipped together, and yet he turned himself against David. And that is always, I think, some of the greatest hurts that we experience, are when men that we have trusted and put our confidence, utmost confidence in, and we have trusted them unquestionably. And they have worked together with us and labored together with us. And we have given them great responsibilities. And suddenly they turn, and they begin to tell vicious lies. They violate the trust that you have put in them. They turn against you. They take from you, and that hurts. Because you have put all kinds of confidence in them. You have trusted them completely, implicitly. And suddenly you realize, as did David in verse Psalms 55:21 , the words of his mouth were smoother than butter. But war was in his heart. His words were softer than oil, yet they were like a drawn sword.

And that's what really hurts, is when someone that you have really placed complete confidence and trust in, and entrusted with a great part of the ministry. And then they turn and try to take it. That hurts beyond anything that I have ever had hurt, as far as the ministry goes.

And David felt this very hurt himself. The hurt of a friend, a comrade, an associate, one that you had fellowshipped and trusted, when they turn against you. So David speaks about this, the turning of Ahithophel. And David isn't so kind with him after he turned. He said,

Let death seize upon them, let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them. As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me ( Psalms 55:15-16 ).

You know, it's not going to destroy me. The Lord is going to take care of me. But the tragedies that will befall those.

Evening, and at morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me. God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God. He hath put forth his hands against such as be it peace with him: he hath broken his covenant ( Psalms 55:17-20 ).

Broken promises and covenants.

The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet they were like drawn swords. [David said,] Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. But thou, O God, shall 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 ( Psalms 55:21-23 ).

That is the only place to move, into the Lord. And there is comfort and blessing and joy. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Psalms 55:13". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​csc/​psalms-55.html. 2014.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Psalms 55

The occasion that inspired the composition of this individual lament psalm was David’s betrayal by an intimate friend. We do not know with certainty who he was, though some commentators have suggested Ahithophel (2 Samuel 15:31). One manuscript of Jerome’s Latin Version has the title "The voice of Christ against the chiefs of the Jews and the traitor Judas." [Note: Kirkpatrick, p. 308.]

David prayed that God would deliver him from his plight. He also lamented his distress that a trusted friend had betrayed him, and he voiced confidence in God who redeems His elect.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 55:13". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​psalms-55.html. 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

2. A request out of deceit 55:9-15

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 55:13". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​psalms-55.html. 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

David addressed his former friend. Not only had he and David been good friends, they had also shared their deepest commitments in life, as worshipping together indicates.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 55:13". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​psalms-55.html. 2012.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But [it was] thou,.... The Targum is, "but thou Ahithophel"; of whom the words are literally to be understood, and so they are in the Talmud u; and mystically and typically of Judas;

a man mine equal; "a man", and not a beast, nor a devil; but a man, from whom humanity, kindness, and tenderness might have been expected; though both Ahithophel and Judas acted the part of a devil; and the latter is expressly called one, John 6:70; "mine equal"; or like unto me; as the Targum. Ahithophel was not equal to David in dignity, as the king of Israel; nor in gifts, as the sweet psalmist of Israel; nor in grace as he; but as a man, a mortal dying man: kings and subjects are of the same blood, equally liable to death, and in the grave will be manifestly on a level: or rather the sense is, that he was in his esteem and affliction as himself; he was his friend that he loved as his own soul: so Judas could not be in every sense equal to Christ who is Jehovah's fellow, and thought it no robbery to be equal with God. Indeed as a man he was like unto him; a frail, mortal man, though not sinless as Christ. The word כערכי may be rendered "according to my appointment" w, ordination, or constitution; Judas being a man appointed and ordained to be an apostle of Christ with the rest: or, "according to my esteem" x; being had in great esteem and familiarity with Christ: or, "according to my order" y, rank and class; being taken into his family, admitted to his table, where be sat down and ate with him, as if he was his equal;

my guide: or "governor" z. Ahithophel was not governor over David; but was made a governor by him: he was one of his dukes or nobles, as the word is rendered in Genesis 36:15, was raised to great dignity by him; perhaps was chief minister of state: it is certain he was his counsellor, and his counsel was with him as the oracle of God,

1 Chronicles 27:33; he was his guide in civil affairs; he was directed by his advice, and it may be was president of his privy council. Judas was not only the guide of them to Christ who took him, Acts 1:16; but when the apostles were sent out two by two before the face of Christ, to preach where he himself should come, Judas was sent also, Mark 6:7;

and mine acquaintance: one well known to him, as Ahithophel was to David, and Judas to Christ, his friend and companion, in whom he confided, and who ate of his bread; and all these characters are so many aggravations of his treachery and wickedness.

u T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 106. 2. Pirke Abot, c. 6. s. 3. w "Secundum dispositionem, sc. ordinationem et constitutionem meam", Calvinus in Michaelis. x "Juxta estimationem meam", Vatablus, Gejerus, Michaelis; "qui par mihi estimatus est", Piscator. y "Secundum ordinem meum", Mollerus. z אלופי "dux meus", Pagninus, Tigurine version, Junius Tremellius, Piscator "princeps meus", Cocceius.

Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 55:13". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​geb/​psalms-55.html. 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Prophetic Imprecations.

      9 Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city.   10 Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it.   11 Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.   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:   13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.   14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.   15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.

      David here complains of his enemies, whose wicked plots had brought him, though not to his faith's end, yet to his wits' end, and prays against them by the spirit of prophecy. Observe here,

      I. The character he gives of the enemies he feared. They were of the worst sort of men, and his description of them agrees very well with Absalom and his accomplices. 1. He complains of the city of Jerusalem, which strangely fell in with Absalom and fell off from David, so that he had none there but how own guards and servants that he could repose any confidence in: How has that faithful city become a harlot! David did not take the representation of it from others; but with his own eyes, and with a sad heart, did himself see nothing but violence and strife in the city (Psalms 55:9; Psalms 55:9); for, when they grew disaffected and disloyal to David, they grew mischievous one to another. If he walked the rounds upon the walls of the city, he saw that violence and strife went about it day and night, and mounted its guards, Psalms 55:10; Psalms 55:10. All the arts and methods which the rebels used for the fortifying of the city were made up on violence and strife, and there were no remains of honesty or love among them. If he looked into the heart of the city, mischief and injury, mutual wrong and vexation, were in the midst of it: Wickedness, all manner of wickedness, is in the midst thereof. Jusque datum sceleri--Wickedness was legalized. Deceit and guile, and all manner of treacherous dealing, departed not from her streets,Psalms 55:11; Psalms 55:11. It may be meant of their base and barbarous usage of David's friends and such as they knew were firm and faithful to him; they did them all the mischief they could, by fraud or force. Is this the character of Jerusalem, the royal city, and, which is more, the holy city, and in David's time too, so soon after the thrones of judgment and the testimony of Israel were both placed there? Is this the city that men call the perfection of beauty?Lamentations 2:15. Is Jerusalem, the head-quarters of God's priests, so ill taught? Can Jerusalem be ungrateful to David himself, its own illustrious founder, and be made too hot for him, so that he cannot reside in it? Let us not be surprised at the corruptions and disorders of this church on earth, but long to see the New Jerusalem, where there is no violence nor strife, no mischief nor guilt, and into which no unclean thing shall enter, nor any thing that disquiets. 2. He complains of one of the ringleaders of the conspiracy, that had been very industrious to foment jealousies, to misrepresent him and his government, and to incense the city against him. It was one that reproached him, as if he either abused his power or neglected the use of it, for that was Absalom's malicious suggestion: There is no man deputed of the king to hear thee,2 Samuel 15:3. That and similar accusations were industriously spread among the people; and who was most active in it? "Not a sworn enemy, not Shimei, nor any of the nonjurors; then I could have borne it, for I should not have expected better from them" (and we find how patiently he did bear Shimei's curses); "not one that professed to hate me, then I would have stood upon my guard against him, would have hidden myself and counsels from him, so that it would not have been in his power to betray me. But it was thou, a man, my equal," Psalms 55:13; Psalms 55:13. The Chaldee-paraphrase names Ahithophel as the person here meant, and nothing in that plot seems to have discouraged David so much as to hear that Ahithophel was among the conspirators with Absalom (2 Samuel 15:31), for he was the king's counsellor,1 Chronicles 27:33. "It was thou, a man, my equal, one whom I esteemed as myself, a friend as my own soul, whom I had laid in my bosom and made equal with myself, to whom I had communicated all my secrets and who knew my mind as well as I myself did,--my guide, with whom I advised and by whom I was directed in all my affairs, whom I made president of the council and prime-minister of state,--my intimate acquaintance and familiar friend; this is the man that now abuses me. I have been kind to him, but I find him thus basely ungrateful. I have put a trust in him, but I find him thus basely treacherous; nay, and he could not have done me the one-half of the mischief he does if I had not shown him so much respect." All this must needs be very grievous to an ingenuous mind, and yet this was not all; this traitor had seemed a saint, else he had never been David's bosom-friend (Psalms 55:14; Psalms 55:14): "We took counsel together, spent many an hour together, with a great deal of pleasure, in religious discourse," or, as Dr. Hammond reads it, "We joined ourselves together to the assembly; I gave him the right hand of fellowship in holy ordinances, and then we walked to the house of God in company, to attend the public service." Note, (1.) There always has been, and always will be, a mixture of good and bad, sound and unsound, in the visible church, between whom, perhaps for a long time, we can discern no difference; but the searcher of hearts does. David, who went to the house of God in his sincerity, had Ahithophel in company with him, who went in his hypocrisy. The Pharisee and the publican went together to the temple to pray; but, sooner or later, those that are perfect and those that are not will be made manifest. (2.) Carnal policy may carry men on very far and very long in a profession of religion while it is in fashion, and will serve a turn. In the court of pious David none was more devout than Ahithophel, and yet his heart was not right in the sight of God. (3.) We must not wonder if we be sadly deceived in some that have made great pretensions to those two sacred things, religion and friendship; David himself, though a very wise man, was thus imposed upon, which may make similar disappointments the more tolerable to us.

      II. His prayers against them, which we are both to stand in awe of and to comfort ourselves in, as prophecies, but not to copy into our prayers against any particular enemies of our own. He prays, 1. That God would disperse them, as he did the Babel-builders (Psalms 55:9; Psalms 55:9): "Destroy, O Lord! and divide their tongues; that is, blast their counsels, by making them to disagree among themselves, and clash with one another. Send an evil spirit among them, that they may not understand one another, but be envious and jealous one of another." This prayer was answered in the turning of Ahithophel's counsel into foolishness, by setting up the counsel of Hushai against it. God often destroys the church's enemies by dividing them; nor is there a surer way to the destruction of any people than their division. A kingdom, an interest, divided against itself, cannot long stand. 2. That God would destroy them, as he did Dathan and Abiram, and their associates, who were confederate against Moses, whose throat being an open sepulchre, the earth therefore opened and swallowed them up. This was then a new thing which God executed, Numbers 16:30. But David prays that it might now be repeated, or something equivalent (Psalms 55:15; Psalms 55:15): "Let death seize upon them by divine warrant, and let them go down quickly into hell; let them be dead, and buried, and so utterly destroyed, in a moment; for wickedness is wherever they are; it is in the midst of them." The souls of impenitent sinners go down quick, or alive, into hell, for they have a perfect sense of their miseries, and shall therefore live still, that they may be still miserable. This prayer is a prophecy of the utter, the final, the everlasting ruin of all those who, whether secretly or openly, oppose and rebel against the Lord's Messiah.

Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Psalms 55:13". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​mhm/​psalms-55.html. 1706.
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