The Outcry of a Soul in Distress
Psalm 55:1-23
Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not yourself from my supplication.…

I. THE VIVID COMPLAINT (vers. 1-11). The singer's case is a sad one. His mind is restlessly tossed to and fro. Full of cares and anxieties he nowhere finds solid foothold, but continues distracted, and hence he must pour out his heart in groans and complaints. The reason is the voice of the enemy, that is, the reproaches and calumnies to which he is subjected. But word is accompanied by deed, for there is persecution as well as slander. Overwhelmed with horror, the one thought of the sufferer is escape. He longs for the pinions of a dove — itself the emblem of peace and quiet — that he may fly away and find repose.

II. THE TREACHEROUS FRIEND (vers. 12-15). The slanders of an avowed antagonist are seldom so mean and cutting as those of a false friend, and the absence of the elements of ingratitude and treachery renders them less hard to bear. "We can bear from Shimei what we cannot endure from Ahithophel." So, too, we can escape from open foes, but where can one find a hiding-place from treachery? Hence the faithlessness of a professed friend is a form of sin for which there is not even the pretence of excuse. No one defends it or apologizes for it. Yet it occurs, and sometimes, like the case in the psalm, under the sanctions of a religious profession, so that the very altar of God is defiled with hypocrisy. It is right, therefore, that such atrocious wickedness should receive its appropriate recompense.

III. THE ANTICIPATED RESULT (vers. 16-23). By a fine antithesis the speaker turns to describe his own course in opposition to that of others. They pursue wickedness and reach its fearful end. He, on the contrary, calls upon God, who is his one refuge in times of distress and anxiety. He lives in an atmosphere of prayer, which is expressed by his mention of the three principal divisions of the natural day. "Complain" and "moan" are the same words that occur in verse 2; only here they are accompanies by the assurance of being heard. God will assuredly redeem him from the heat of the conflict; and the interposition of His arm will be needed, for his adversaries are not few but many, too many for him to deal with alone. God therefore will hear and answer them just as He does to His own servant, but with a serious difference. His own He regards in mercy, others in judgment. God Himself so orders His providence that they are overtaken in their evil ways and plunged into the abyss. On the other hand, the sacred poet closes his lyric with a renewed asseveration of the only ground of his hope. As for me, whatever others may say or think, as for me, I trust in Thee.

(T. W. Chambers, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: {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.

WEB: Listen to my prayer, God. Don't hide yourself from my supplication.

The Godly Man in Three Aspects
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