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Psalms

Psalms

Psalms Psalm 55 Summary

Verses 1-8

NRSV
Give ear to my prayer, O God; do not hide yourself from my supplication.
Attend to me, and answer me; I am troubled in my complaint. I am distraught
by the noise of the enemy, because of the clamor of the wicked. For they bring trouble upon me, and in anger they cherish enmity against me.
My heart is in anguish within me, the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me.
And I say, "O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest;
truly, I would flee far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah
I would hurry to find a shelter for myself from the raging wind and tempest."

KJV
Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication.
Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise;
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.
My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.
Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.
And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.
Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.
I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.

  • Get ready for one of the most famous in the Bible: "O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest."
  • Here we see a new type of God on display, if you think about it. He is both the personal God who helps individuals, but also the God whose wrath will completely destroy the speaker's enemy.
  • All of the images are natural (surprise, surprise), and the audience would certainly be able to relate. Being caught in a storm wasn't just bad luck, it was dangerous for the flock.
  • Being hated is a huge part of the writer's agenda; this guy just couldn't seem to catch a break.

Verses 9-23

NRSV
Confuse, O Lord, confound their speech; for I see violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they go around it on its walls, and iniquity and trouble are within it;
ruin is in its midst; oppression and fraud do not depart from its marketplace.
It is not enemies who taunt me— I could bear that; it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me— I could hide from them.
But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend,
with whom I kept pleasant company; we walked in the house of God with the throng.
Let death come upon them; let them go down alive to Sheol; for evil is in their homes and in their hearts.
But I call upon God, and the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he will hear my voice.
He will redeem me unharmed from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.
God, who is enthroned from of old, Selah will hear, and will humble them— because they do not change, and do not fear God.
My companion laid hands on a friend and violated a covenant with me
with speech smoother than butter, but with a heart set on war; with words that were softer than oil, but in fact were drawn swords.
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
But you, O God, will cast them down into the lowest pit; the bloodthirsty and treacherous shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you.

KJV
Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it.
Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.
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:
But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.
We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.
Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.
As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me.
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.
God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.
He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.
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.
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.

  • Now the writer is bummed out because a friend has betrayed him. How does he handle it? A chat over coffee? A curtly worded email? Nope. He asks God to punish the friend.
  • Urban blight is a huge problem here. The friend's fraud is part of a larger trend of corruption in the city, and the speaker can't bear to face it alone.
  • So God isn't called upon for advice—which is a more modern conception of God's role—but for swift, merciless vengeance. 
  • It seems like God is down for this sort of thing…why ask if the answer will be no? One again, we've got a different God than we've seen previously.

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