|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
55:16-23 In every trial let us call upon the Lord, and he will save us. He shall hear us, and not blame us for coming too often; the oftener the more welcome. David had thought all were against him; but now he sees there were many with him, more than he supposed; and the glory of this he gives to God, for it is he that raises us up friends, and makes them faithful to us. There are more true Christians, and believers have more real friends, than in their gloomy hours they suppose. His enemies should be reckoned with, and brought down; they could not ease themselves of their fears, as David could, by faith in God. Mortal men, though ever so high and strong, will easily be crushed by an eternal God. Those who are not reclaimed by the rod of affliction, will certainly be brought down to the pit of destruction. The burden of afflictions is very heavy, especially when attended with the temptations of Satan; there is also the burden of sin and corruption. The only relief under it is, to look to Christ, who bore it. Whatever it is that thou desirest God should give thee, leave it to him to give it in his own way and time. Care is a burden, it makes the heart stoop. We must commit our ways and works to the Lord; let him do as seemeth him good, and let us be satisfied. To cast our burden upon God, is to rest upon his providence and promise. And if we do so, he will carry us in the arms of his power, as a nurse carries a child; and will strengthen our spirits by his Spirit, so that they shall sustain the trial. He will never suffer the righteous to be moved; to be so shaken by any troubles, as to quit their duty to God, or their comfort in him. He will not suffer them to be utterly cast down. He, who bore the burden of our sorrows, desires us to leave to him to bear the burden of our cares, that, as he knows what is best for us, he may provide it accordingly. Why do not we trust Christ to govern the world which he redeemed?
Verse 20. - He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him. Some explain "he" as "the wicked collectively," and maintain that in this verse and the next no particular person is pointed at; but it seems better to regard the psalmist as "suddenly reverting to the fixed and deepest thought in his heart - the treachery of his friend" (Canon Cook). Ahithophel had put forth his hand against such as were at peace with him." He hath broken his covenant. The covenant of friendship with David (ver. 14), not, perhaps, a formal one, but involved in the terms on which they stood one towards the other.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He hath put forth his hands,.... The psalmist returns and describes, in this verse Psalm 55:3, the cruelty, perfidy, and hypocrisy of his false friend; who had stretched forth his hands
against such as be at peace with him, or he pretended to be at peace with. So Ahithophel put forth his hands against David, by whom he had been admitted into his privy council, and there had taken sweet counsel together, by entering into a conspiracy and rebellion against him, and by forming a scheme to smite the king only, 2 Samuel 17:1; and Judas, though he did not lay hands on Christ himself, yet he gave his enemies a sign by which they might know him, and seize him, and hold him fast, as they did; and him Christ calls the man of his peace, Psalm 41:9; they being at peace when he lifted up his heel against him;
he hath broken his covenant; of friendship that was made between them; he proved false and treacherous, broke through his engagements, and violated his faith.
The Treasury of David
20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.
21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.
The Psalmist cannot forget the traitor's conduct, and returns again to consider it. "He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him." He smites those to whom he had given the hand of friendship, he breaks the bonds of alliance, he Is perfidious to those who dwell at ease because of his friendly professions. "He hath broken his covenant." The most solemn league he has profaned, he is regardless of oaths and promises.
"The words of his mouth were smoother than butler." He lauded and larded the man he hoped to devour. He buffered him with flattery and then battered him with malice. Beware of a man who has too much honey on his tongue; a trap is to be suspected where the bait is so tempting. Soft, smooth, oily words are most plentiful where truth and sincerity are most scarce. "But war was in his heart." He brought forth butter in a lordly dish, but he had a tent-pin ready for the temples of his guest. When heart and lip so widely differ, the man is a monster, and those whom he assails are afflicted indeed. "His words were softer than oil." Nothing could be more unctuous and fluent, there were no objectionable syllables, no jars or discords, his words were as yielding as the best juice of the olive; "yet were they drawn swords," rapiers unsheathed, weapons brandished for the fray. Ah! base wretch, to be cajoling your victim while intending to devour him! entrapping him as if he were but a beast of prey; surely, such art thou thyself!
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20, 21. The treachery is aggravated by hypocrisy. The changes of number, Ps 55:15, 23, and here, enliven the picture, and imply that the chief traitor and his accomplices are in view together.
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