Psalm 55:23
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.
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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.).



Psalm 55:23In spite of this interruption and the accompanying clashing in of the music. אשׁר .ci with its dependent clause continues the ויאנם, more minutely describing those whom God will answer in His wrath. The relative clause at the same time gives the ground for this their fate from the character they bear: they persevere in their course without any regard to any other in their godlessness. The noun חליפה, which is used elsewhere of a change of clothes, of a reserve in time of war, of a relief of bands of workmen, here signifies a change of mind (Targum), as in Job 14:14 a change of condition; the plural means that every change of this kind is very far from them. In Psalm 55:21 David again has the one faithless foe among the multitude of the rebels before his mind. שׁלמיו is equivalent to שׁלמים אתּו, Genesis 34:21, those who stood in peaceful relationship to him (שׁלום, Psalm 41:10). David classes himself with his faithful adherents. בּרית is here a defensive and offensive treaty of mutual fidelity entered into in the presence of God. By שׁלח and חלּל is meant the intention which, though not carried out as yet, is already in itself a violation and profanation of the solemn compact. In Psalm 55:22 the description passes into the tone of the caesural schema. It is impossible for מחמאת, so far as the vowels are concerned, to be equivalent to מחמאות, since this change of the vowels would obliterate the preposition; but one is forbidden to read מחמאות (Targum, Symmachus, Jerome) by the fact that פּיו (lxx τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ, as in Proverbs 2:6) cannot be the subject to חלקוּ. Consequently מ belongs to the noun itself, and the denominative מחמאות (from חמאה), like מעדנּות (from עדן), dainties, signifies articles of food prepared from curdled milk; here it is used figuratively of "milk-words" or "butter-words" which come from the lips of the hypocrite softly, sweetly, and supplely as cream: os nectar promit, mens aconita vomit. In the following words וּקרב־לבּו (וּקרב) the Makkeph (in connection with which it would have to be read ukerob just the same as in Psalm 55:19, since the - has not a Metheg) is to be crossed out (as in fact it is even wanting here and there in MSS and printed editions). The words are an independent substantival clause: war (קרב, a pushing together, assault, battle, after the form כּתב mrof eh with an unchangeable â) is his inward part and his words are swords; these two clauses correspond. רכּוּ (properly like Arab. rkk, to be thin, weak, then also: to be soft, mild; root רך, רק, tendere, tenuare) has the accent on the ultima, vid., on Psalm 38:20. פּתיחה is a drawn, unsheathed sword (Psalm 37:14).

The exhortation, Psalm 55:23, which begins a new strophe and is thereby less abrupt, is first of all a counsel which David gives to himself, but at the same time to all who suffer innocently, cf. Psalm 27:14. Instead of the obscure ἅπαξ γεγραμ. יהבך, we read in Psalm 37:5 דרכך, and in Proverbs 16:3 מעשׂיך, according to which the word is not a verb after the form ידעך (Chajug', Gecatilia, and Kimchi), but an accusative of the object (just as it is in fact accented; for the Legarme of יהוה has a lesser disjunctive value than the Zinnor of יהבך). The lxx renders it ἐπίῤῥιψον ἐπὶ κύριον τὴν μέριμνάν σου. Thus are these words of the Psalm applied in 1 Peter 5:7. According to the Talmud יהב (the same form as קרב) signifies a burden. "One day," relates Rabba bar-Chana, B. Rosh ha-Shana, 26b, and elsewhere, "I was walking with an Arabian (Nabataean?) tradesman, and happened to be carrying a heavy pack. And he said to me, שׁקיל יהביך ושׁדי אגמלאי, Take thy burden and throw it on my camel." Hence it is wiser to refer יהב to יהב, to give, apportion, than to a stem יהב equals יאב, Psalm 119:131 (root אב, או), to desire; so that it consequently does not mean desiring, longing, care, but that which is imposed, laid upon one, assigned or allotted to one (Bttcher), in which sense the Chaldee derivatives of יהב (Targum Psalm 11:6; Psalm 16:5, for מנת) do actually occur. On whomsoever one casts what is allotted to him to carry, to him one gives it to carry. The admonition proceeds on the principle that God is as willing as He is able to bear even the heaviest burden for us; but this bearing it for us is on the other side our own bearing of it in God's strength, and hence the promise that is added runs: He will sustain thee (כּלכּל), that thou mayest not through feebleness succumb. Psalm 55:23 also favours this figure of a burden: He will not give, i.e., suffer to happen (Psalm 78:66), tottering to the righteous for ever, He will never suffer the righteous to totter. The righteous shall never totter (or be moved) with the overthrow that follows; whereas David is sure of this, that his enemies shall not only fall to the ground, but go down into Hades (which is here, by a combination of two synonyms, בּאר שׁחת, called a well, i.e., an opening, of a sinking in, i.e., a pit, as e.g., in Proverbs 8:31; Ezekiel 36:3), and that before they have halved their days, i.e., before they have reached the half of the age that might be attained under other circumstances (cf. Psalm 102:25; Jeremiah 16:11). By ואתּה אלהים prominence is given to the fact that it is the very same God who will not suffer the righteous to fall who casts down the ungodly; and by ואני David contrasts himself with them, as being of good courage now and in all time to come.

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