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FRAMEWORKS: Psalm 55: Betrayal by a close friend


For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A maskil of David.


[Preliminary Comments: A cry of David when he fees betrayed by one who was once close to him. He calls on the Lord to hear him [v.1,2] because of the anguish he feels over enemy threats [v.2-5]. He wishes he could escape [v.6-8] and so asks the Lord to deal with this enemy [v.9-11], but his greatest anguish is over one who used to be a close friend but now acts as an enemy [v.12-14]. He determines to cry out to the Lord [v.15-17] and is reassured that God will deal with his enemies [v.18,19] but still anguishes over his friend [v.20,21]. He concludes with the reassurance that if we cast our cares on the Lord, we can trust Him to deal with those against us. [v.22,23]. It is a psalm of anguish over people.]



v.1,2a A Plea for the Lord to hear him


v.1  Listen to my prayer, O God,
    do not ignore my plea;
v.2   hear me and answer me.

v.2b-5 His anguish: people who threaten his life


My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
v.3   because of what my enemy is saying,
    because of the threats of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering on me
    and assail me in their anger.

v.4  My heart is in anguish within me;
    the terrors of death have fallen on me.
v.5  Fear and trembling have beset me;
    horror has overwhelmed me.

v.6-8 His desire to escape from this place


v.6  I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
    I would fly away and be at rest.
v.7  I would flee far away
    and stay in the desert;
v.8  I would hurry to my place of shelter,
    far from the tempest and storm.”


v.9-11 He calls to the Lord to deal with the wicked


v.9  Lord, confuse the wicked, confound their words,
    for I see violence and strife in the city
v.10  Day and night they prowl about on its walls;
    malice and abuse are within it.
v.11  Destructive forces are at work in the city;
    threats and lies never leave its streets.


v.12-14 His anguish is over a friend turned against him


v.12  If an enemy were insulting me,
    I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
    I could hide.
v.13  But it is you, a man like myself,
    my companion, my close friend,
v.14  with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
    at the house of God,
as we walked about
    among the worshipers.


v.15-17 May his enemies fall while he calls to the Lord


v.15  Let death take my enemies by surprise;
    let them go down alive to the realm of the dead,
    for evil finds lodging among them.

v.16  As for me, I call to God,
    and the Lord saves me.
v.17  Evening, morning and noon
    I cry out in distress,
    and he hears my voice.

v.18,19 Reassurance of the Lord's saving power on his behalf


v.18  He rescues me unharmed
    from the battle waged against me,
    even though many oppose me.
v.19  God, who is enthroned from of old,
    who does not change—
he will hear them and humble them,
    because they have no fear of God.


v.20,21 The treachery of his friend


v.20  My companion attacks his friends;
    he violates his covenant.
v.21  His talk is smooth as butter,
    yet war is in his heart;
his words are more soothing than oil,
    yet they are drawn swords.


v.22,23 Declarations of confidence in the Lord


v.22  Cast your cares on the Lord
    and he will sustain you;
he will never let
    the righteous be shaken.
v.23  But you, God, will bring down the wicked
    into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful
    will not live out half their days.

But as for me, I trust in you.



[Additional Thoughts: The lesson of the psalm is clear: when people are against us, and even close ones let us down, the answer is simple and clear – tell the Lord and seek His help.]



Continue to Psa 56