Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not yourself from my supplication.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Psalm 55:1-3. Hide not thyself from my supplication — Either as one unconcerned and not regarding it, or as one displeased, and resolved not to hear nor help. I mourn and make a noise — I cannot forbear such sighs and groans, and other expressions of grief, as discover it to those about me. The word ואהימה, veahimah, here rendered and make a noise, is translated by Chandler, and am in the greatest consternation. He was brought into such immediate danger, as that he scarcely knew what method to take to avoid the destruction which threatened him. Because of the voice of the enemy — That is, their clamours, and threats, and slanders, and insolent boastings; all which are hateful to thee, as well as injurious to me. They cast iniquity upon me — They make me the great object of their wicked and mischievous practices; or rather, they lay many crimes to my charge falsely, as if by my own wickedness I was the cause of all my calamities. And in wrath they hate me — Their anger and rage against me is not a sudden and transitory passion, but has increased and ripened into constant malice and settled hatred.Psalm 5:1; Psalm 17:6. This is the language of earnestness. The psalmist was in deep affliction, and he pleaded, therefore, that God would not turn away from him in his troubles.
And hide not thyself from my supplication - That is, Do not withdraw thyself, or render thyself inaccessible to my prayer. Do not so conceal thyself that I may not have the privilege of approaching thee. Compare the notes at Isaiah 1:15. See also Ezekiel 22:26; Proverbs 28:27; Leviticus 20:4; 1 Samuel 12:3. The same word is used in all these places, and the general meaning is that of "shutting the eyes upon," as implying neglect. So also in Lamentations 3:56, the phrase "to hide the ear" means to turn away so as not to hear. The earnest prayer of the psalmist here is, that God would not, as it were, withdraw or conceal himself, but would give free access to himself in prayer. The language is, of course, figurative, but it illustrates what often occurs when God seems to withdraw himself; when our prayers do not appear to be heard; when God is apparently unwilling to attend to us.
Ps 55:1-23. In great terror on account of enemies, and grieved by the treachery of a friend, the Psalmist offers an earnest prayer for relief. He mingles confident assurances of divine favor to himself with invocations and predictions of God's avenging judgments on the wicked. The tone suits David's experience, both in the times of Saul and Absalom, though perhaps neither was exclusively before his mind.
2 Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise;
3 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.
4 My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.
5 Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.
6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.
7 Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.
8 I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.
"Give ear to my prayer, O God." The fact is so commonly before us, otherwise we should be surprised to observe how universally and constantly the saints resort to prayer in seasons of distress. From the Great Elder Brother down to the very least of the divine family, all of them delight in prayer. They run as naturally to the mercy-seat in time of trouble as the little chickens to the hen in the hour of danger. But note well that it is never the bare act of prayer which satisfies the godly, they crave an audience with heaven, and an answer from the throne, and nothing less will content them. "Hide not thyself from my supplication." Do not stop thine ear, or restrain thy hand. When a man saw his neighbour in distress, and deliberately passed him by, he was said to hide himself from him; and the Psalmist begs that the Lord would not so treat him. In that dread hour when Jesus bore our sins upon the tree, his Father did hide himself, and this was the most dreadful part of all the Son of David's agony. Well may each of us deprecate such a calamity as that God should refuse to hear our cries.
"Attend unto me, and hear me." This is the third time he prays the same prayer. He is in earnest, in deep and bitter earnest. If his God do not hear, he feels that all is over with him. He begs for his God to be a listener and an answerer. "I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise." He gives a loose to his sorrows, permits his mind to rehearse her griefs, and to pour them out in such language as suggests itself at the time, whether it be coherent or not. What a comfort that we may be thus familiar with our God! We may not complain of him, but we may complain to him. Our rambling thoughts when we are distracted with grief we may bring before him, and that too in utterances rather to be called "a noise" than language. He will attend so carefully that he will understand us, and he will often fulfil desires which we ourselves could not have expressed in intelligible words. "Groanings that cannot be uttered," are often prayers which cannot be refused. Our Lord himself used strong cryings and tears, and was heard in that he feared.
"Because of the voice of the enemy." The enemy was vocal and voluble enough, and found a voice where his godly victim had nothing better than a "noise." Slander is seldom short of expression, it prates and prattles evermore. Neither David, nor our Lord, nor any of the saints were allowed to escape the attacks of venomous tongues, and this evil was in every case the cause of acute anguish. "Because of the oppression of the wicked'" the unjust pressed and oppressed the righteous; like an intolerable burden they crushed them down, and brought them to their knees before the Lord. This is a thrice-told story, and to the end of time it will be true; he that is born after the flesh will persecute him that is born after the Spirit. The great seed of the woman suffered from a bruised heel. "For they cast iniquity upon me," they black me with their sootbags, throw the dust of their lying over me, cast the vitriol of their calumny over me. They endeavour to trip me up, and if I do not fall they say I do. "And in wrath they hate me." With a hearty ill will they detested the holy man. It was no sleeping animosity, but a mortal rancour which reigned in their bosoms. The reader needs not that we show how applicable this is to our Lord.
and hide not thyself from my supplication; made for mercies and blessings, which spring from the free grace and goodness of God, which is the sense of the word (o) here used; and such are all mercies, whether temporal or spiritual; for none are merited by men: and from his supplication for such things the psalmist desires, that as he would not be as one deaf to him, so that he would not hide his eyes, or refuse to look upon him, and deny his, requests; see Isaiah 1:15.<
(a) The earnestness of his prayer declares the vehemency of his grief in so much as he is compelled to burst out into cries.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1–3 a. The Psalmist’s passionate appeal to God for a hearing in his distress.
1. Give ear &c.] Cp. Psalm 54:2.
hide not thyself] As the unmerciful man turns away from misfortune and suffering which he does not want to relieve (Deuteronomy 22:1; Deuteronomy 22:3-4; Isaiah 58:7); or as though my prayer were the prayer of a hypocrite (Isaiah 1:15). Cp. Psalm 10:1; Lamentations 3:56.Verse 1. - Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication (comp. Psalm 54:2; and, for the second clause, see Psalm 13:1; Psalm 27:8; Psalm 69:17; Psalm 89:46, etc.). Psalm 52:11), so that בּשׁמך (which is here the parallel word to בּגבוּרתך) is consequently equivalent to בּחסדּך. The obtaining of right for any one (דּין like שׁפט, Psalm 7:9, and frequently, עשׂה דּין, Psalm 9:5) is attributed to the all-conquering might of God, which is only one side of the divine Name, i.e., of the divine nature which manifests itself in the diversity of its attributes. האזין (Psalm 54:4) is construed with ל (cf. אל, Psalm 87:2) like הטּה אזן, Psalm 78:1. The Targum, misled by Psalm 86:14, reads זרים instead of זרים in Psalm 54:5. The inscription leads one to think of the Ziphites in particular in connection with "strangers" and "violent men." The two words in most instances denote foreign enemies, Isaiah 25:2., Psalm 29:5; Ezekiel 31:12; but זר is also a stranger in the widest sense, regulated in each instance according to the opposite, e.g., the non-priest, Leviticus 22:10; and one's fellow-countrymen can also turn out to be עריצים, Jeremiah 15:21. The Ziphites, although Judaeans like David, might be called "strangers," because they had taken the side against David; and "violent men," because they pledged themselves to seize and deliver him up. Under other circumstances this might have been their duty as subjects. In this instance, however, it was godlessness, as Psalm 54:5 (cf. Psalm 86:14) says. Any one at that time in Israel who feared God more than man, could not lend himself to be made a tool of Saul's blind fury. God had already manifestly enough acknowledged David.
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