Psalm 55:13
But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) But it was . . .—Better, But thou art a man of my own standing. The word erek is used (Exodus 40:23) of the row of loaves constituting the shewbread, and the cognate verb means “to arrange.” Here it may denote rank, but more probably the expression is man of my assessment, and so of the same importance in society. (Comp. Leviticus 5:15; 2Kings 12:4.) The LXX. and Vulgate have “of one soul with me.” Symmachus, “of like disposition.” This sense may be implied, though not expressed in the Hebrew.

Guide.—So the old versions: the Hebrew word does denote the head of a tribe or family (Genesis 36:15, &c, “duke”), but that meaning seems excluded here by the previous description. Render, companion.

55:9-15 No wickedness so distresses the believer, as that which he witnesses in those who profess to be of the church of God. Let us not be surprised at the corruptions and disorders of the church on earth, but long to see the New Jerusalem. He complains of one that had been very industrious against him. God often destroys the enemies of the church by dividing them. And an interest divided against itself cannot long stand. The true Christian must expect trials from professed friends, from those with whom he has been united; this will be very painful; but by looking unto Jesus we shall be enabled to bear it. Christ was betrayed by a companion, a disciple, an apostle, who resembled Ahithophel in his crimes and doom. Both were speedily overtaken by Divine vengeance. And this prayer is a prophecy of the utter, the everlasting ruin, of all who oppose and rebel against the Messiah.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 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.

13. guide—literally, "friend" (Pr 16:28; 17:9).

acquaintance—in Hebrew, a yet more intimate associate.

Mine equal; not in power and dignity, which could not be, but in reputation for his deep wisdom and excellent conduct, and the great influence which he had upon me, and upon all my people.

My guide; whose counsel I highly prized, and constantly sought and followed: all which agrees very well to Ahithophel. See 2 Samuel 15:12,31 16:23.

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 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) "dux meus", Pagninus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "princeps meus", Cocceius.

But it was thou, a man mine {k} equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.

(k) Who was not only joined to me in friendship and counsel in worldly matters, but also in religion.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. Mine equal in rank and position; my associate or companion (as in Proverbs 16:28, chief friends; Micah 7:5, where R.V. marg. familiar friend is right); my close acquaintance or familiar friend (Psalm 31:11). Cp. Jeremiah 9:4 f.

Verse 13. - But it was thou, a man mine equal; literally, a man according to my valuing; i.e. one of my social rank, with whom I was on familiar terms. My guide; or, "my companion." But the LXX. have ἡγέμων. And mine acquaintance. "My confidant" (Kay); "my familiar friend" (Cheyne, and Revised Version). Psalm 55:13In the second group anger is the prevailing feeling. In the city all kinds of party passions have broken loose; even his bosom friend has taken a part in this hostile rising. The retrospective reference to the confusion of tongues at Babel which is contained in the word פּלּג (cf. Genesis 10:25), also in remembrance of בּלל (Genesis 11:1-9), involves the choice of the word בּלּע, which here, after Isaiah 19:3, denotes a swallowing up, i.e., annihilation by means of confounding and rendering utterly futile. לשׁונם is the object to both imperatives, the second of which is פּלּג (like the pointing usual in connection with a final guttural) for the sake of similarity of sound. Instead of חמס וריב, the pointing is חמס וריב, which is perfectly regular, because the וריב with a conjunctive accent logically hurries on to בּעיר as its supplement.

(Note: Certain exceptions, however, exist, inasmuch as ו sometimes remains even in connection with a disjunctive accent, Isaiah 49:4; Jeremiah 40:10; Jeremiah 41:16; and it is pointed ו in connection with a conjunctive in Genesis 45:23; Genesis 46:12; Leviticus 9:3; Micah 2:11; Job 4:16; Ecclesiastes 4:8.)

The subjects to Psalm 55:11 are not violence and strife (Hengstenberg, Hitzig), for it is rather a comical idea to make these personified run round about upon the city walls; but (cf. Psalm 59:7, Psalm 59:15) the Absalomites, and in fact the spies who incessantly watch the movements of David and his followers, and who to this end roam about upon the heights of the city. The narrative in 2 Samuel 15 shows how passively David looked on at this movement, until he abandoned the palace of his own free will and quitted Jerusalem The espionage in the circuit of the city is contrasted with the movements going on within the city itself by the word בּקרב. We are acquainted with but few details of the affair; but we can easily fill in the details for ourselves in accordance with the ambitious, base, and craftily malicious character of Absalom. The assertion that deceit (מרמה) and the extremest madness had taken possession of the city is confirmed in Psalm 55:13 by כּי. It is not open enemies who might have had cause for it that are opposed to him, but faithless friends, and among them that Ahithophel of Giloh, the scum of perfidious ingratitude. The futures ואשּׂא and ואסּתר are used as subjunctives, and ו is equivalent to alioqui, as in Psalm 51:18, cf. Job 6:14. He tells him to his face, to his shame, the relationship in which he had stood to him whom he now betrays. Psalm 55:14 is not to be rendered: and thou art, etc., but: and thou (who dost act thus) wast, etc.; for it is only because the principal clause has a retrospective meaning that the futures נמתּיק and נהלּך describe what was a custom in the past. The expression is designedly אנושׁ כּערכּי and not אישׁ כערכי; David does not make him feel his kingly eminence, but places himself in the relation to him of man to man, putting him on the same level with himself and treating him as his equal. The suffix of כערכי is in this instance not subjective as in the כערכך of the law respecting the asham or trespass-offering: according to my estimation, but objectively: equal to the worth at which I am estimated, that is to say, equally valued with myself. What heart-piercing significance this word obtains when found in the mouth of the second David, who, although the Son of God and peerless King, nevertheless entered into the most intimate human relationship as the Son of man to His disciples, and among them to that Iscariot! אלּוּף from אלף, Arabic alifa, to be accustomed to anything, assuescere, signifies one attached to or devoted to any one; and מידּא, according to the Hebrew meaning of the verb ידע, an intimate acquaintance. The first of the relative clauses in Psalm 55:15 describes their confidential private intercourse; the second the unrestrained manifestation of it in public. סוד here, as in Job 19:19 (vid., supra on Psalm 25:14). המתּיק סוד, to make friendly intercourse sweet, is equivalent to cherishing it. רגשׁ stands over against סוד, just like סוד, secret counsel, and רגשׁה, loud tumult, in Psalm 64:3. Here רגשׁ is just the same as that which the Korahitic poet calls המון חוגג in Psalm 42:5.

In the face of the faithless friends who has become the head of the Absalomite faction David now breaks out, in Psalm 55:16, into fearful imprecations. The Chethb is ישׁימות, desolationes (super eos); but this word occurs only in the name of a place ("House of desolations"), and does not well suit such direct reference to persons. On the other hand, the Ker ישּׁיאמות, let death ensnare or impose upon them, gives a sense that is not to be objected to; it is a pregnant expression, equivalent to: let death come upon them unexpectedly. To this ישּׁיא corresponds the חיּים of the second imprecation: let them go down alive into Hades (שׁאול, perhaps originally שׁאולה, the ה of which may have been lost beside the ח that follows), i.e., like the company of Korah, while their life is yet vigorous, that is to say, let them die a sudden, violent death. The drawing together of the decipiat (opprimat) mors into one word is the result of the ancient scriptio continua and of the defective mode of writing, ישּׁי, like יני, Psalm 141:5, אבי, 1 Kings 21:29. Bttcher renders it differently: let death crash in upon them; but the future form ישּׁי equals ישׁאה from שׁאה equals שׁאי is an imaginary one, which cannot be supported by Numbers 21:30. Hitzig renders it: let death benumb them (ישּׁים); but this gives an inconceivable figure, with the turgidity of which the trepidantes Manes in Virgil, Aenid viii. 246, do not admit of comparison. In the confirmation, Psalm 55:16, בּמגוּרם, together with the בּקרבּם which follows, does not pretend to be any advance in the thought, whether מגור be rendered a settlement, dwelling, παροικία (lxx, Targum), or an assembly (Aquila, Symmachus, Jerome). Hence Hitzig's rendering: in their shrine, in their breast ( equals ἐν τῷ θησαυρῷ τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν, Luke 6:45), מגוּרם being short for מגוּרתם in accordance with the love of contraction which prevails in poetry (on Psalm 25:5). But had the poet intended to use this figure he would have written בּמגוּרת קרבם, and is not the assertion that wickedness is among them, that it is at home in them, really a climax? The change of the names of God in Psalm 55:17 is significant. He calls upon Him who is exalted above the world, and He who mercifully interposes in the history of the world helps him.

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