To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil, A Psalm of David. Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication.
I. Don't spend your time in wishing for wings, or for anything else that is impossible. Not that there is anything wrong in a wish, unless we wish for what is wrong. Wishes will come flying into our minds, as little birds sometimes hop in at an open window. But do not pet, and feed, and fondle them. Let them fly away again. Wishing is profitless work, even for possible things.
II. God gave David something much better than wings. Read vers. 16, 17, 22, of Psalm lv., and look at the last six words of ver. 23, and you will see how this was. Often God denies our wishes that He may give us something better than we ask or think. The Lord Jesus needed no wings to fly up to heaven. And we need no wings to get near enough to Him to talk to Him. Ask Him to help you to use your hands and feet in His service. Love to Him will be better than the winged shoes you read of in the old Greek fables. It will make your feet swift and your hands nimble for every duty and every kindness.
E. R. Conder, Drops and Rocks, p. 120.
References: Psalm 55:6.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xi., p. 12; W. Wilkinson, Thursday Penny Pulpit, p. 1 vol. iii., p. 301; G. Dawson, Sermons on Daily Lifeand Duty.
Psalm 55:6-8I. This is the cry of the faithful soul overpressed by temptation.
II. It is the sigh of the heart, weary of the strain of spiritual aspiration and effort.
III. It is the cry of a man who is forced to be spectator of a dread conflict.
IV. But man is not only a spectator of the conflict. He is bound to be the servant of the Divine kingdom, and in sympathy with the Lord of the kingdom, to bear all the burden of it on his heart. "Oh that I had wings like a dove!" that I might be loosed from this weary task, and cease to be bound to think and to care for thankless, senseless men.
V. We believe in progress; we believe in the golden pictures of the prophets; we believe in the reign of the Lord Jesus over all hearts, in all worlds. But eyes grow weary with expectation. "Where is the promise of His coming?"
VI. To comfort a man is to make him strong by standing by him. This is our strength to bear, to hope: the Lord is with us.
J. Baldwin Brown, The Higher Life, p. 266.
I. This sigh of David is the sigh of many men. We find it in literature; we find it in our own hearts; it is a part of our life. We get tired of the daily sameness of life. We are tired of the unrelenting past, tired of the dreary present, tired of the uncertain future. We are tired of the weary struggle in our own hearts, the to and fro conflicting witnesses of impulse and repression, broad, rejoicing, sunlit tides of spiritual emotion, leaving behind them the flat, oozing shores of ebbing enthusiasm.
II. This being the fact regarding human life, where is the remedy? The great resource in every perplexity is to look to Christ. He, too, though sinless, was forced to sigh for the sad world of sin and death; but the sigh had scarcely been uttered when once more He was engaged in works of mercy and thoughtful care. For sorrow and disaster, for weariness and discouragement, God has given four great and perfect remedies: (1) action; (2) patience; (3) faith; (4) hope. One day, not far hence, we too shall have the wings of a dove. Though we have lain among earth's sods, yet at death, if we be God's children, we shall all be as the wings of a dove which is covered with silver wings, and whose feathers are like gold.
F. W. Farrar, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvii., p. 1 (see also Ephphatha, p. 123).
References: Psalm 55:8, Psalm 55:22.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xii., p. 16. Psalm 55:11.—A. Fletcher, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 289. Psalm 55:12, Psalm 55:14.—G. Forbes, Voice of God in the Psalms, p. 220.
Psalm 55:19No changes! We must not take the expression in a hard and narrow literal sense, or it would be true of no man. The changes of which the Psalmist speaks mean changes that disturb, changes that unhinge all plans and arrangements, changes that frustrate hopes, changes that, like earthquakes, upheave, when least expected, fair fields and smiling villages. These are the changes which some men have not, and because they have them not they fear not God.
I. It is a melancholy fact that the general tendency of prosperity is to produce self-confidence and forgetfulness of God. When the hand is full, and the purse is full, and the heart has all it can wish, what danger there is lest men should forget God!
II. Even health can be a peril. It can be a source of temptation. It can stimulate men to sin. The best work and the most work is not done by the strongest men and women in the world, especially the work which is of a moral and spiritual kind.
III. The absence of change produces hardness of nature. No man can understand the sorrows, and therefore no man can truly succour the sorrows, of others who is perpetually preserved from having sorrows of his own.
IV. The absence of change produces neglect of eternity. "Soul, take thine ease," is a very common feeling among those whose circumstances are on the whole fairly pleasant. They have no desire to see God, no desire to be with God. Let them be without changes, and they do not feel that God is essential to them at all, and they do not fear Him.
V. All the changes of this life which unsettle us, derange our schemes, and destroy our pleasures are meant to appeal to us and to remind us that "here we have no continuing city," that this is not our rest. That is a glorious moment when the soul can say, and feel as well as say, "Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come."
E. Mellor, The Hem of Christ's Garment, p. 311.
References: Psalm 55:19.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xiii., p. 327; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 249; J. Martineau, Hours of Thought, vol. i., p. 127.
Psalm 55:22A great part of the burden of daily life is the sin that is in it. Take out the sin, and there will not be much burden left.
I. As regards those common burdens which every one bears, God says, "Cast thy burden on the Lord." It is very difficult to sympathise with one another's burdens; and of course each, knowing only his own, thinks his own the heaviest. Christ alone can sympathise with all. But your burden is the one main thing you have to do with, suited for present discipline, a selected, ordained, adjusted thing—"thy burden." Leave the balancing, and trust the Balancer.
II. What is casting? It needs an effort to believe. It needs an effort to do the first step; it needs an effort to make it once and for ever. What is the way? (1) Take loving views of Jesus—of His sympathy, His nearness, His power, His undertakings, His interest, personal, in you. (2) Open to Him your whole heart, not the burden only, but what surrounds it. (3) Do not go back to your own castings. Put them too far away for that.
III. Observe how the Lord deals with cast burdens. He does not say, "I will take away thy burden," but "I will sustain thee." To this end He will unite Himself to you more closely, so that, just as the ivy on the rock, you will both borrow a strength from the rock not your own and pass on to the rock the pressure that you feel. He will be "your arm every morning," on which leaning you cannot faint. He will feed you with such hidden manna that you will grow so strong that you can carry anything.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 8th series, p. 147.
References: Psalm 55:22.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 30. Psalm 55—A. Maclaren, Life of David, p. 240; J. Hammond, Expositor, 1st series, vol. iv., p. 67. Psalm 56:3.—A. Rowland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiii., p. 404.
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.
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.