Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 55:1-23. In great terror on account of enemies, and grieved by the treachery of a friend, the Psalmist offers an earnest prayer for relief. He mingles confident assurances of divine favor to himself with invocations and predictions of God's avenging judgments on the wicked. The tone suits David's experience, both in the times of Saul and Absalom, though perhaps neither was exclusively before his mind.
1. hide not thyself, &c.—(compare Ps 13:1; 27:9), withhold not help.
Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise;
2. The terms of the last clause express full indulgence of grief.
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.
3. oppression—literally, "persecution."
they … iniquity—literally, "they make evil doings slide upon me."
My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.
4, 5. express great alarm.
Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.
5. come upon—or literally, "into."
And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.
6. be at rest—literally, "dwell," that is, permanently.
Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.
7, 8. Even a wilderness is a safer place than exposure to such evils, terrible as storm and tempest.
I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.
Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city.
9. Destroy—literally, "swallow" (Ps 21:9).
divide their tongues—or, "confound their speech," and hence their counsels (Ge 11:7).
the city—perhaps Jerusalem, the scene of anarchy.
Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it.
10, 11. which is described in detail (compare Ps 7:14-16).
Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.
11. Wickedness—literally, "Mischief," evils resulting from others (Ps 5:9; 52:2, 7).
streets—or literally, "wide places," markets, courts of justice, and any public place.
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:
12-14. This description of treachery does not deny, but aggravates, the injury from enemies.
But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.
13. guide—literally, "friend" (Pr 16:28; 17:9).
acquaintance—in Hebrew, a yet more intimate associate.
We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.
14. in company—literally, "with a crowd," in a festal procession.
Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.
15. Let death, &c.—or, "Desolations are on them."
let them go—literally, "they will go."
quick—or, living in the midst of life, death will come (compare Nu 16:33).
among them—or, "within them," in their hearts (Ps 5:9; 49:11).
As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me.
16-18. God answers his constant and repeated prayers.
Evening, and 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.
18. many with me—that is, by the context, fighting with me.
God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.
19. God hears the wicked in wrath.
of old—enthroned as a sovereign.
Because … no changes—Prosperity hardens them (Ps 73:5).
He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.
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.
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.
Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
22. thy burden—literally, "gift," what is assigned you.
he shall sustain—literally, "supply food," and so all need (Ps 37:25; Mt 6:11).
to be moved—from the secure position of His favor (compare Ps 10:6).
But thou, O God, shalt 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.
23. bloody … days—(compare Ps 5:6; 51:14), deceit and murderous dispositions often united. The threat is directed specially (not as a general truth) against the wicked, then in the writer's view.