Book #2: 42-72
This Psalm is almost identical with Psalm 14 (see notes there).
Psalm 53:1-David speaks here of the wickedness of mankind...that stems from his refusal to believe in the very existence of God. Unbelief in God (atheism) is not a passive position. David says that those who hold to this belief…
- “are corrupt”…this word conveys the idea of something that is ruined, rotted, spoiled, perverted (morally) and speaks of the nature of those people who deny the existence of God…it also has those very affects on the things associated with it
- “commit abominable injustice”…because of their corrupt nature, they “commit” acts of “injustice” (wickedness, depravity, perverseness) that are “abominable” (terrible, horrible, detestable)
- “do not do good”…while they portray themselves as morally subjective (or sometimes neutral), because their nature is actually “corrupt” (immoral, without God), their attempts to do good are contaminated by their “corrupt” nature and are also “corrupt”…nothing they do, no matter how good it may appear to be on the outside, is actually good, because it is “corrupt” at its core
Psalm 53:2-4-Ultimately, this is the condition of all of mankind. They constantly attack one another and refuse to acknowledge God.
Psalm 53:5-6-A day of judgment is coming. Then, those who refuse to acknowledge God will be punished and Israel will rejoice.
In this Psalm, David recalls the time when the Ziphites (the inhabitants of a mountainous area about 4 miles southeast of Hebron, the wilderness of Ziph…David and his men used the many caves located there as a refuge from Saul) informed King Saul that he was hiding among them (cf. 1 Samuel 23).
(1) A town in the hill country of Judah, mentioned along with Maon, Carmel and Jutah (Joshua 15:55). It is chiefly celebrated in connection with the earlier history of David: "David.... remained in the hill-country in the wilderness of Ziph" (1 Samuel 23:14, 15, 24; 1 Samuel 26:2); the Ziphites (1 Samuel 23:19; 1 Samuel 26:1; compare Psalm 54 title) sought to betray him to Saul, but David escaped. Ziph was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:8). The name also occurs in 1 Chronicles 2:42; 1 Chronicles 4:16. In connection with this last (compare 4:23) it is noticeable that Ziph is one of the four names occurring on the Hebrew stamped jar handles with the added la-melekh, "to the king."
The site is Tell Zif, 4 miles Southeast of Hebron, conspicuous hill 2,882 ft. above sea-level; there are cisterns and, to the East, some ruins (PEF, III, 312, 315).
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,
Psalm 54:1-3-David calls out to God to save him from his enemies.
Psalm 54:4-7-In a statement of absolute faith and trust in God, David says that God is his "helper" (support, aid) and "sustainer" (to lean, lay, rest, support, put, uphold, lean upon) of my “soul” (this word is used in a variety of ways to speak of life). He will give sacrifice and thanks to Him.
soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion
In this Psalm, David is heartbroken because he had been betrayed not by an enemy…but by a friend (:12-14). However, he does not identify who this friend was. Generally, Bible expositors suggest either King Saul, or Ahithophel.
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.
Jamieson, Fausset & Brown :: Commentary on Psalm 55,
It is the conjecture of many expositors that David penned this psalm upon occasion of Absalom's rebellion, and that the particular enemy he here speaks of, that dealt treacherously with him, was Ahithophel…
Matthew Henry :: Commentary on Psalms 55,
a-hith'-o-fel ('achithophel, "brother of foolishness," perhaps): The real leader of the Absalom rebellion against David. He is described as "the king's counselor," in a context connected with events some of which are dated in the fortieth year of David (1 Chronicles 27:33, 34; compare 1 Chronicles 26:31). Concerning him and his part in the rebellion we have rather full information (2 Samuel 15:12).
Some hold that he was the grandfather of Bathsheba, and make much of this in forming their estimates of him. Does the evidence sustain this view? In the latter half of the list of David's mighty men, not among the older veterans with whom the list begins, appears "Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite" (2 Samuel 23:34), the corresponding name in the other copy of the list being "Ahijah the Pelonite" (1 Chronicles 11:36). It is assumed that this is the same Eliam who was father to Bath-sheba (2 Samuel 11:3). Apparently the Chronicler testifies (1 Chronicles 3:5) that the mother of Solomon was "Bath-shua the daughter of Ammiel."
Bathshua may easily be a variant of Bathsheba, and the names Eliam and Ammiel are made up of the same parts, only in reversed order. It is not strange that men have inferred that the son of Ahithophel was the father of Bathsheba. But the inference is really not a probable one. The record does not make the impression that Ahithophel was an older man than David. The recorded events of David's life after his misconduct with Bathsheba cannot have occupied less than about twenty years; that is, he cannot have been at the time older than about fifty years. That Ahithophel had then a married grand-daughter is less probable than that there were in Israel two Eliams. Further, Ahithophel was not the sort of man to conspire against the interests of his grand-daughter and her son, however he may, earlier, have resented the conduct of David toward her. Ahithophel's motive in the rebellion was doubtless ambition for personal power, though he very likely shared with many of his countrymen in the conviction that it was unjust to push aside an older son by elevating a younger son to the throne.
Ahithophel has a reputation for marvelous practical sagacity (2 Samuel 16:23). He did not show this in joining the conspiracy but it is in evidence in his management of the affair. According to the record the hearts of the people, in spite of the much fault they had to find, were all the time with David. Absalom's only chance of success was by the method of surprise and stampede. There must be a crisis in which everybody would join Absalom because everybody thought that everybody else had done so. Such a state of public sentiment could last only a very few days; but if, in those few days, David could be put out of the way, Absalom might hold the throne in virtue of his personal popularity and in default of a rival. The first part of the program was carried out with wonderful success; when it came to the second part, Ahithophel's practical wisdom was blocked by Hushai's adroit appeal to Absalom's personal vanity. Ahithophel saw with absolute clearness that Absalom had sacrificed his one opportunity, and he committed suicide to avoid participation in the shameful defeat which he saw could not be averted.
Willis J. Beecher
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,
Psalm 55:1-11-David calls out in prayer…asking God to hear his prayer and answer (:1-2a). He goes into much detail in regards to the attacks that he is experiencing from his enemies (:2b-3) and its affect on him (:4-5). Because of all the stress that he is going through David says that he would like to run away and hide somewhere where it is peaceful, away from people (:6-8). He says that this attack is not just on him, but it extended to Jerusalem as well (:9-11).
Psalm 55:12-15-David reveals that much of his consternation over this attack is that it was not done by someone that he had previously considered to be an enemy…but it was done by someone that he thought to be a friend. The words that he uses to speak of this person demonstrate the depth of their friendship…”a man my equal”, “my companion”, “my familiar friend” (:13), “sweet fellowship together”, walked in the house of God in the throng” (:14). Because of the depth of his previous trust in this person and the extent of his deception…David prays for God to judge him all the more harshly (:15). This is not a prayer based on personal vengeance, but on the fact that when this man betrayed him, he was betraying the man that God had appointed to be King. And as such, he was betraying God, Himself.
Psalm 55:16-19-David voices his confidence in God. He says that he will pray at evening, morning, and noon. He knows that God will respond and will save him.
Psalm 55:20-21-David describes the type of deceit that this man perpetrated against him.
Psalm 55:22-David admonishes others to trust God in the same manner that he has. He will always take care of the righteous.
Psalm 55:213-And with the same certainty, David says that God will hold the guilty accountable for their behavior. They will be judged.
Prayer: Father, the betrayal that hurts most, is done by those that we love most. I pray that You would help me to love not just those who speak well of me, and who support me. But give me Your love for those who oppose me. Don’t let me treat other people based on the way that they treat me. But, let your love be the guide and the standard for my response to them.