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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Psalms 55

Verses 1-23

Psalms 55

A Desperation Prayer

This psalm prayer was offered by David when 1) Absalom had rebelled against his father David and occupied the city of Jerusalem, and 2) at the time of Ahithophel’s treachery, as related 2 Samuel 15:12; Psalms 41:9.

Scripture v. 1-23:

Verses 1, 2 relate a despairing cry of David from deep trouble and distress. In strophic, turning, repeated form, he cried out to God to give ear or heed to his cry, and hide or turn not away from his supplication, Deuteronomy 22:3; Isaiah 58:7; La 3:8, 42. Verse 2 adds that he mourned in his wandering complaint, let his mind wander, and made a noise, as one perturbed, frustrated, 1 Samuel 1:16.

Verse 3 declares that this perturbed state of anxiety and unanswered prayer was because of the voice of the oppressing wicked, who continually cut him with false, wicked aspersions, and attributed wickedness to him of which he was not guilty, Psalms 27:12; Psalms 35:11; 2 Samuel 15:3; 2 Samuel 16:7-8; 2 Samuel 19:19; Matthew 26:59; Psalms 41:7.

Verses 4, 5 confess that his heart was sore pained within and terrors of death bare down upon him. Fear, trembling, and emotions of horror covered him, like a dark cloud, or a wet blanket. He had trusted Ahithophel as his bosom friend, and chief counselor, who like Judas, had betrayed him. He too faced the ingratitude of a rebellious son," sharper than a serpents tooth," Psalms 6:3; Mark 14:33-34; John 12:27; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10; Matthew 21:37-38.

Verses 6-8 relate David’s selfish desire, so like ours, to flee trouble, on the wings of a dove and a breeze of the wind, to a lonely place in the mountains, to be alone, at rest, afar from the den and strife of life’s real battles. Such, however, does not work patience in one, Romans 5:3. Jeremiah once came to this doleful state, Jeremiah 9:2. He would haste his escape from the windy storm and tempest, Exodus 19:4; Revelation 12:14; Job 30:15; 1 Samuel 27:1; Psalms 104:3.

"A Lodge In the Wilderness," -Cowper.

"O for a lodge in some vast wilderness, Some boundless continuity of shade, Where rumor of oppression and deceit, Of unsuccessful or successful war, Might never reach me more. My ear is pain’d, My soul is sick with every day’s report Of wrong and outrage with which earth is fill’d."

Verses 9-11 plea, "destroy, O Lord, and divide, (split up) their tongues." He added that unceasingly, day and night, without rest, he had seen his enemies with violent strife, stalking about the walls of Jerusalem, the city of God, devising, conniving, cunning mischief, and stirring sorrow and strife. His enemies did wickedness, through deceit and guile, in the streets of the holy city, by day and by night, unceasingly; David complained. For the destruction, termination of such, he appealed to the Elohim, the creating and sustaining God, Psalms 145:18-19.

Verses 12-14 relate that David’s pain, sorrow, was caused by a friend turned traitor, Ahithophel, an equal, a guide, or a confidant. If any deserves two hells it seems It would be the person of treachery. The arm of the flesh is too weak to trust. All of one’s trust should not be placed in friends, but only to the extent they trust in God. Judas, Peter, Thomas, and all our Lord’s friends once forsook Him. Are we better, more noble, trustworthy than they, under similar trial? One has written:

"Beware of Peter’s words, Nor confidentially say, I’ll never deny my Lord, But trust I never may."

Of broken friendship, Coleridge wrote:

Severed Friendship

"Alas! they had been friends in youth; But whispering tongues can poison truth; And constancy lives in realms above; And life is thorny; and youth is vain; And to be wroth with one we love, Doth work like madness in the brain. And thus it chanced, as I divine, With Roland and Sir Leoline. Each spoke words of high disdain And insult to his heart’s best brother: They parted ... n’erto meet again! But never either found another To free the hollow heart from paining ... They stood aloft, the scars remaining, Like cliffs which had been rent asunder; A dreary sea now flows between; ... But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder, Shall wholly do away, I ween, The marks of that which once hath been."

Verse 15 calls, with imprecatory judgment for such traitors, "let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell (or the grave), for wickedness is (exists) in their residences and among them; Numbers 16:30. Let it be noted that Ahithophel, like Judas Iscariot, committed suicide, and Absalom died a sudden death, as a traitor, 2 Samuel 17:23; 2 Samuel 18:14; Acts 1:18.

Verses 16-18 relate David’s resolve to call upon God continually, day and night, in full faith that God might save or liberate him; He would pray evening, morning, and noon, at least three times a day, with a loud cry, Daniel 6:10; Luke 18:1; Acts 3:1; Acts 10:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Verse 18 declares that God will save him from battle in peace, for the many with him, 2 Chronicles 32:7-8.

Verse 19 declares that the abiding God of old, ancient time, living God, will afflict, destroy the enemies in their hardened impenitence, Deuteronomy 33:27.

Verses 20, 21 describe the treacherous words of Absalom as "smoother then butter and softer than oil," during all of which time his heart and hand were on the sword, resolved to make war and murder those who were at peace with God; He was continually profaning God’s covenant, v. 12, 13, even as the antichrist shall, Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:30.

Verses 22, 23 exhort the righteous to cast their burdens upon the Lord, assured that He will sustain them, never permitting their defeat by Satan, Psalms 37:5; Psalms 37:24; Matthew 6:25; Luke 12:12; 1 Peter 5:7.
Verse 23 cer­tifies that the bloody and wicked shall not live out half their days, without certain fixed doom, as they live and die without God, Psalms 102:23; Proverbs 10:27. But David’s trust in God assured his deliverance, Psalms 102:8.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Psalms 55". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/psalms-55.html. 1985.