Psalm chapter 55

English Standard Version

1 Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy! 2Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan, 3because of the noise of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked. For they drop trouble upon me, and in anger they bear a grudge against me. 4My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me. 5Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. 6And I say, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; 7 yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah 8I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest." 9Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues; for I see violence and strife in the city. 10Day and night they go around it on its walls, and iniquity and trouble are within it; 11ruin is in its midst; oppression and fraud do not depart from its marketplace. 12For it is not an enemy who taunts me — then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me — then I could hide from him. 13 But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. 14We used to take sweet counsel together; within God 's house we walked in the throng. 15Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart. 16But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. 17 Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. 18He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. 19God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah because they do not change and do not fear God. 20My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. 21His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords. 22 Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. 23But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you.
New International Version

New American Standard Bible

1 Listen to my prayer, God; And do not hide Yourself from my pleading. 2Give Your attention to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and severely distracted, 3Because of the voice of the enemy, Because of the pressure of the wicked; For they bring down trouble upon me And in anger they hold a grudge against me. 4My heart is in anguish within me, And the terrors of death have fallen upon me. 5Fear and trembling come upon me, And horror has overwhelmed me. 6I said, 'Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. 7Behold, I would flee far away, I would spend my nights in the wilderness. Selah 8I would hurry to my place of refuge From the stormy wind and heavy gale.' 9Confuse them, Lord, divide their tongues, For I have seen violence and strife in the city. 10Day and night they go around her upon her walls, And evil and harm are in her midst. 11Destruction is in her midst; Oppression and deceit do not depart from her streets. 12For it is not an enemy who taunts me, Then I could endure it; Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, Then I could hide myself from him. 13But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my confidant; 14We who had sweet fellowship together, Walked in the house of God among the commotion. 15 May death come deceitfully upon them; May they go down alive to Sheol, For evil is in their dwelling, in their midst. 16As for me, I shall call upon God, And the Lord will save me. 17Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and moan, And He will hear my voice. 18He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me, For they are many who are aggressive toward me. 19God will hear and humiliate them— Even the one who sits enthroned from ancient times— Selah With whom there is no change, And who do not fear God. 20He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him; He has violated his covenant. 21His speech was smoother than butter, But his heart was war; His words were softer than oil, Yet they were drawn swords. 22Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. 23But You, God, will bring them down to the pit of destruction; Men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days. But I will trust in You.
Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

New King James Version

What does Psalm chapter 55 mean?

This psalm is not assigned to any specific event. However, clues throughout tie closely to the rebellion of Absalom and the betrayal of Ahithophel. When David's son tried to take over the kingdom (2 Samuel 15:1–12), one of David's closest advisors sided with the rebels (2 Samuel 15:31). This forced David to flee from Jerusalem and sparked a bloody civil conflict (2 Samuel 15:14; 18:6–8). The song is attached to instructions about the use of stringed instruments. The description of this as a maskiyl implies a contemplative, somber song (Psalm 32:1; 53:1; 89:1).

David begins with a prayer for rescue. His enemies inspire deep terror; David describes his fear using a Hebrew term which literally means "trembling" or "shaking." He imagines being able to fly, with actual wings, far from danger and away from trouble. Those who attack him are powerful and make a great "noise," much like a storm (Psalm 55:1–8).

While asking for deliverance, David also prays God would judge his enemies. He describes the chaos and evil they have brought to Jerusalem. He suggests that these opponents deal in lies and brutality. Worse, for David, this opposition also comes from a former ally. This person was once a trusted friend and valued advisor—likely a reference to Ahithophel, the royal counselor-turned-traitor. David asks God to bring swift, immediate justice on these enemies (Psalm 55:9–15).

Near the end of this psalm, David prays directly for God's judgment to come on those who attack him. He makes this request with utmost confidence, sure that the Lord will spare him from defeat. Some of the language in this section echoes a psalm David wrote specifically in response to the rebellion of Absalom (Psalm 3). David's enemies are sure to suffer destruction because they refuse to turn from their evil. Among these are the traitor whose deceptive words disguised ill intent (Psalm 55:16–21).

David ends this psalm with a call for all to rely entirely on the Lord God. David himself knew that faithful service to God does not mean immunity from hardship (John 16:33). Yet he recognized the Lord's eternal perspective (Romans 8:28). Those who love God and are born again are secure in their salvation. In contrast, those who refuse to trust in the Lord are doomed to "the pit of destruction" depicted in the end times (Revelation 20:15) (Psalm 55:22–23).
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