Psalm 55:23 Commentaries: But You, O God, will bring them down to the pit of destruction; Men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days. But I will trust in You.
Psalm 55:23
But you, 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 you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Psalm 55:23. Thou shalt bring them — My wicked enemies, of whom I have hitherto spoken; down into the pit of destruction — Not only to the dust, but to hell, called destruction, Job 26:6. God afflicted them, Psalm 55:19, to humble and reform them, but as that effect was not produced by their afflictions, he will at last bring them to ruin. Those that are not reclaimed by the rod of correction will certainly be brought into the pit of destruction. Bloody and deceitful men — That colour their cruel intentions with specious and deceitful pretences; which are most hateful to God and all men; shall not live out half their days — Not half so long as men ordinarily live, and as they, by the course of nature, might have lived, and as they themselves expected to live, but shall be cut off by God’s just judgment, by an untimely and violent death. But I will trust in thee — In thy providence, power, and mercy; and not in my own prudence, strength, or merit. When the wicked are cut off in the midst of their days, I shall still live by faith in thee. And in this confidence I will quietly and patiently wait on thee for their downfall, and for my deliverance. 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?But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction - The word "them," here evidently refers to the enemies of the psalmist; the wicked people who were arrayed against him, and who sought his life. The "pit of destruction" refers here to the grave, or to death, considered with reference to the fact that they would be "destroyed" or "cut off," or would not die in the usual course of nature. The meaning is, that God would come forth in his displeasure, and cut them down for their crimes. The word "pit" usually denotes "a well," or "cavern" Genesis 14:10; Genesis 37:20; Exodus 21:34, but is often used to denote the grave (Job 17:16; Job 33:18, Job 33:24; Psalm 9:15; Psalm 28:1; Psalm 30:3, Psalm 30:9, et al.); and the idea here is that they would be cut off for their sins. The word "destruction" is added to denote that this would be by some direct act, or by punishment inflicted by the hand of God.

Bloody and deceitful men - Margin, as in Hebrew, "Men of bloods and deceit." The allusion is to people of violence; people who live by plunder and rapine; and especially to such people considered as false, unfaithful, and treacherous - as they commonly are. The special allusion here is to the enemies of David, and particularly to such as Ahithophel - men who not only sought his life, but who had proved themselves to be treacherous and false to him.

Shall not live out half their days - Margin, as in Hebrew, "shall not halve their days." So the Septuagint, and the Latin Vulgate. The statement is general, not universal. The meaning is, that they do not live half as long as they might do, and would do, if they were "not" bloody and deceitful. Beyond all question this is true. Such people are either cut off in strife and conflict, in personal affrays in duels, or in battle; or they are arrested for their crimes, and punished by an ignominious death. Thousands and tens of thousands thus die every year, who, "but" for their evil deeds, might have doubled the actual length of their lives; who might have passed onward to old age respected, beloved, happy, useful. There is to all, indeed, an outer limit of life. There is a bound which we cannot pass. That natural limit, however, is one that in numerous cases is much "beyond" what people actually reach, though one to which they "might" have come by a course of temperance, prudence, virtue, and piety.

God has fixed a limit beyond which we cannot pass; but, wherever that may be, as arranged in his providence, it is our duty not to cut off our lives "before" that natural limit is reached; or, in other words, it is our duty to live on the earth just as long as we can. Whatever makes us come short of this is self-murder, for there is no difference in principle between a man's cutting off his life by the pistol, by poison, or by the halter, and cutting it off by vice, by crime, by dissipation, by the neglect of health, or by those habits of indolence and self-indulgence which undermine the constitution, and bring the body down to the grave. Thousands die each year whose proper record on their graves would be "self-murderers." Thousands of young people are indulging in habits which, unless arrested, "must" have such a result, and who are destined to an early grave - who will not live out half their days - unless their mode of life is changed, and they become temperate, chaste, and virtuous. One of the ablest lawyers that I have ever known - an example of what often occurs - was cut down in middle life by the use of tobacco. How many thousands perish each year, in a similar manner, by indulgence in intoxicating drinks!

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. 23 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.

For the ungodly a sure, terrible, and fatal overthrow is appointed. Climb as they may, the pit yawns for them, God himself will cause them to descend into it, and destruction there shall be their portion. "Bloody and deceitful men," with double iniquity of cruelty and craft upon them, "shall not live out half their days;" they shall be cut off in their quarrels, or being disappointed in their artifices, vexation shall end them. They were in heart murderers of others, and they became in reality self-murderers. Doubt not that virtue lengthens life, and that vice tends to shorten it. "But I will trust in thee." A very wise, practical conclusion. We can have no better ground of confidence. The Lord is all, and more than all that faith can need as the foundation of peaceful dependence. Lord, increase our faith evermore.

Shalt bring them down; my wicked enemies, of whom I have hitherto spoken.

Bloody and

deceitful men; that colour their cruel intentions with specious and deceitful pretences; which are most hateful to God and all men.

Shall not live out half their days; not half of what others live, and they by the course of nature might live; but shall be cut off by God’s just judgment, by an untimely and violent death.

But I will trust in thee; and in this confidence I will quietly and patiently wait upon thee, for their downfall, and for my deliverance. But thou, O God, shall bring them down,.... Ahithophel and his accomplices in the conspiracy against David, Judas and the wicked Jews concerned in Christ's death; and did not believe in him;

into the pit of destruction, or "corruption" (i); either the grave, where bodies being put corrupt and putrefy; or hell, where the wicked are punished with everlasting destruction; see Psalm 55:15;

bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; such as Ahithophel and Absalom, Judas, and the murderers of our Lord: or, "do not halve their days" (k); do not come up to the half of the ordinary term of man's life, which is threescore years and ten. The Jews say (l), that all the years of Doeg were but thirty four, and of Ahithophel thirty three; and probably Judas might be about the same age. Or the sense is, that, generally speaking, such sort of men die in the prime of their days, and do not live half the time that, according to the course of nature, they might live; and which they promise themselves they should, and their friends hoped and expected they would:

but I will trust in thee; the Lord, that he would hear and save him, support him under his burden, supply him with his grace, and every thing needful, and not suffer him to be moved; and that he should live to fill up the measure of his days, do the will and work of God, and then be received to glory.

(i) "corruptionis", Vatablus, Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ainsworth; approved by Gussetius, p. 850. (k) "dividiabunt", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, &c. (l) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 69. 2. & 106. 2. & Gloss. in Pirke Abot, c. 5. s. 19.

But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out {r} half their days; but I will trust in thee.

(r) Though they sometimes live longer, yet their life is cursed by God, unquiet, and worse than any death.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. shalt bring them down] Namely, the foes, who are still in the Psalmist’s mind: their end is the pit of the grave: a premature death awaits bloodthirsty and deceitful men, whom God abhors (Psalm 5:6). Cp. Psalm 37:35 f; Psalm 109:8, and many passages which speak of the penal death of the wicked.

But I &c.] But as for me, I will trust in thee. The same God who destroys the wicked is the object of the Psalmist’s trust: and in truth the extermination of the wicked is but the converse of the reward and exaltation of the righteous: the one is the necessary preliminary to the other: and the earth, be it remembered, is the stage upon which the Psalmist expects to see the dénouement of the drama of life, the vindication of God’s moral government of the world. See Introd. p. xci ff.Verse 23. - But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction. We must understand by "them" the ungodly, the thought of whom is associated with that of the righteous by the law of contrast. While God sustains and supports the righteous, he "brings down" and crushes the ungodly. The "pit of destruction" is the grave. Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days (comp. Jeremiah 17:1). Of course, the statement is not intended for a universal law, and indeed was probably pointed especially at the "bloody and deceitful men" of whom the psalmist had been speaking. The suicide of Ahithophel, and the slaughter of Absalom with so many of his followers, furnished a striking commentary on the statement. But I will trust in thee; i.e. but I, for my part, will put no trust in violence or deceit - I will trust in nothing and no one but God (comp. Psalm 7:1; Psalm 11:1, etc.).



In the third group confidence prevails, the tone that is struck up in Psalm 55:17 being carried forward. Evening morning, and noon, as the beginning, middle, and close of the day, denote the day in its whole compass or extent: David thus gives expression to the incessancy with which he is determined to lay before God, both in the quiet of his spirit and in louder utterances, whatsoever moves him. The fut. consec. ויּשׁמע connects the hearing (answer) with the prayer as its inevitable result. Also in the praet. פּדה expression is given to the certainty of faith; and בּשׁלום side by side with it denotes, with the same pregnancy of meaning as in Psalm 118:5, the state of undisturbed outward and inward safety and prosperity, into which God removes his soul when He rescues him. If we read mi-kerob, then קרב is, as the ancient versions regard it, the infinitive: ne appropinquent mihi; whereas since the time of J. H. Michaelis the preference has been given to the pronunciation mi-kerāb: a conflictu mihi sc. parato, in which case it would be pointed מקּרב־ (with Metheg), whilst the MSS, in order to guard against the reading with ā, point it מקּרב־. Hitzig is right when he observes, that after the negative מן the infinitive is indicated beforehand, and that לי equals עלי, Psalm 27:2, is better suited to this. Moreover, the confirmatory clause Psalm 55:19 is connected with what precedes in a manner less liable to be misunderstood if מקרב is taken as infinitive: that they may not be able to gain any advantage over me, cannot come near me to harm me (Psalm 91:10). For it is not until now less precarious to take the enemies as the subject of היוּ, and to take עמּדי in a hostile sense, as in Job 10:17; Job 13:19; Job 23:6; Job 31:13, cf. עם Psalm 94:16, and this is only possible where the connection suggests this sense. Heidenheim's interpretation: among the magnates were those who succoured me (viz., Hushai, Zadok, and Abiathar, by whom the counsel of Athithopel was frustrated), does not give a thought characteristic of the Psalms. And with Aben-Ezra, who follows Numeri Rabba 294a, to think of the assistance of angels in connection with בּרבּים, certainly strongly commends itself in view of 2 Kings 6:16 (with which Hitzig also compares 2 Chronicles 32:7); here, however, it has no connection, whereas the thought, "as many (consisting of many) are they with me, i.e., do they come forward and fight with me," is very loosely attached to what has gone before. The Beth essentiae serves here, as it does frequently, e.g., Psalm 39:7, to denote the qualification of the subject. The preterite of confidence is followed in Psalm 55:20 by the future of hope. Although side by side with שׁמע, ענה presumptively has the signification to answer, i.e., to be assured of the prayer being heard, yet this meaning is in this instance excluded by the fact that the enemies are the object, as is required by Psalm 55:20 (even if Psalm 55:19 is understood of those who are on the side of the poet). The rendering of the lxx: εἰσακούσεται ὁ Θεὸς καὶ ταπεινώσει αὐτοὺς ὁ ὑπάρχων πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων, is appropriate, but requires the pronunciation to be ויעשנּם, since the signification to bow down, to humble, cannot be proved to belong either to Kal or Hiphil. But even granted that יענם might, according to 1 Kings 8:35 (vid., Keil), signify ταπεινώσει αὐτοὺς, it is nevertheless difficult to believe that ויענם is not intended to have a meaning correlative with ישׁמע, of which it is the continuation. Saadia has explained יענם in a manner worthy of attention, as being for יענה בם, he will testify against them; an interpretation which Aben-Ezra endorses. Hengstenberg's is better: "God will hear (the tumult of the enemies) and answer them (judicially)." The original text may have been ויענמו ישׁב קדם. But as it now stands, וישׁב קדם represents a subordinate clause, with the omission of the הוּא, pledging that judicial response: since He it is who sitteth enthroned from earliest times (vid., on Psalm 7:10). The bold expression ישׁב קדם is an abbreviation of the view of God expressed in Psalm 74:12, Habakkuk 1:12, cf. Deuteronomy 33:27, as of Him who from primeval days down to the present sits enthroned as King and Judge, who therefore will be able even at the present time to maintain His majesty, which is assailed in the person of His anointed one.
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