Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary

Verses 16-23 (Psalms 55:16-23)

In these verses,

I. David perseveres in his resolution to call upon God, being well assured that he should not seek him in vain (Ps. 55:16): ?As for me, let them take what course they please to secure themselves, let violence and strife be their guards, prayer shall be mind; this I have found comfort in, and therefore this will I abide by: I will call upon God, and commit myself to him, and the Lord shall save me;? for whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, in a right manner, shall be saved, Rom. 10:13. He resolves to be both fervent and frequent in this duty. 1. He will pray fervently: ?I will pray and cry aloud. I will meditate? (so the former word signifies); ?I will speak with my own heart, and the prayer shall come thence.? Then we pray aright when we pray with all that is within us, think first and then pray over our thoughts; for the true nature of prayer is lifting up the heart to God. Having meditated, he will cry, he will cry aloud; the fervour of his spirit in prayer shall be expressed and yet more excited by the intenseness and earnestness of his voice. 2. He will pray frequently, every day, and three times a day?evening, and morning, and at noon. It is probable that this had been his constant practice, and he resolves to continue it now that he is in his distress. Then we may come the more boldly to the throne of grace in trouble when we do not then first begin to seek acquaintance with God, but it is what we have constantly practised, and the trouble finds the wheels of prayer going. Those that think three meals a day little enough for the body ought much more to think three solemn prayers a day little enough for the soul, and to count it a pleasure, not a task. As it is fit that in the morning we should begin the day with God, and in the evening close it with him, so it is fit that in the midst of the day we should retire awhile to converse with him. It was Daniel?s practice to pray three times a day (Dan. 6:10), and noon was one of Peter?s hours of prayer, Acts 10:9. Let not us be weary of praying often, for God is not weary of hearing. ?He shall hear my voice, and not blame me for coming too often, but the oftener the better, the more welcome.?

II. He assures himself that God would in due time give an answer of peace to his prayers.

1. That he himself should be delivered and his fears prevented; those fears with which he was much disordered (Ps. 55:4, 5) by the exercise of faith were now silenced, and he begins to rejoice in hope (Ps. 55:18): God has delivered my soul in peace, that is, he will deliver it; David is as sure of the deliverance as if it were already wrought. His enemies were at war with him, and the battle was against him, but God delivered him in peace, that is, brought him off with as much comfort as if he had never been in danger. If he did not deliver him in victory, yet he delivered him in peace, inward peace. He delivered his soul in peace; by patience and holy joy in God he kept possession of that. Those are safe and easy whose hearts and minds are kept by that peace of God which passes all understanding, Phil. 4:7. David, in his fright, thought all were against him; but now he sees there were many with him, more than he imagined; his interest proved better than he expected, and this he gives to God the glory of: for it is he that raises us up friends when we need them, and makes them faithful to us. There were many with him; for though his subjects deserted him, and went over to Absalom, yet God was with him and the good angels. With an eye of faith he now sees himself surrounded, as Elisha was, with chariots of fire and horses of fire, and therefore triumphs thus, There are many with me, more with me than against me, 2 Kgs. 6:16, 17.

2. That his enemies should be reckoned with, and brought down. They had frightened him with their menaces (Ps. 55:3), but here he says enough to frighten them and make them tremble with more reason, and no remedy; for they could not ease themselves of their fears as David could, by faith in God.

(1.) David here gives their character as the reason why he expected God would bring them down. [1.] They are impious and profane, and stand in no awe of God, of his authority or wrath (Ps. 55:19): ?Because they have no changes (no afflictions, no interruption to the constant course of their prosperity, no crosses to empty them from vessel to vessel) therefore they fear not God; they live in a constant neglect and contempt of God and religion, which is the cause of all their other wickedness, and by which they are certainly marked for destruction.? [2.] They are treacherous and false, and will not be held by the most sacred and solemn engagements (Ps. 55:20): ?He has put forth his hand against such as are at peace with him, that never provoked him, nor gave him any cause to quarrel with them; nay, to whom he had given all possible encouragement to expect kindness from him. He has put forth his hand against those whom he had given his hand to, and has broken his covenant both with God and man, has perfidiously violated his engagement to both,? than which nothing makes men riper for ruin. [3.] They are base and hypocritical, pretending friendship while they design mischief (Ps. 55:21): ?The words of his mouth? (probably, he means Ahithophel particularly) ?were smoother than butter and softer than oil, so courteous was he and obliging, so free in his professions of respect and kindness and the proffers of his service; yet, at the same time, war was in his heart, and all this courtesy was but a stratagem of war, and those very words had such a mischievous design in them that they were as drawn swords designed to stab.? They smile in a man?s face, and cut his throat at the same time, as Joab, that kissed and killed. Satan is such an enemy; he flatters men into their ruin. When he speaks fair, believe him not.

(2.) David here foretels their ruin. [1.] God shall afflict them, and bring them into straits and frights, and recompense tribulation to those that have troubled his people, and this in answer to the prayers of his people: God shall hear and afflict them, hear the cries of the oppressed and speak terror to their oppressors, even he that abides of old, who is God from everlasting, and world without end, and who sits Judge from the beginning of time, and has always presided in the affairs of the children of men. Mortal men, though ever so high and strong, will easily be crushed by an eternal God and are a very unequal match for him. This the saints have comforted themselves with in reference to the threatening power of the church?s enemies (Hab. 1:12): Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord? [2.] God shall bring them down, not only to the dust, but to the pit of destruction (Ps. 55:23), to the bottomless pit, which is called destruction, Job 26:6. He afflicted them (Ps. 55:19) to see if that would humble and reform them; but, they not being wrought upon by that, he shall at last bring them to ruin. Those that are not reclaimed by the rod of affliction will certainly be fac brought down into the pit of destruction. They are bloody and deceitful men (that is, the worst of men) and therefore shall not live out half their days, not half so long as men ordinarily live, and as they might have lived in a course of nature, and as they themselves expected to live. They shall live as long as the Lord of life, the righteous Judge, has appointed, with whom the number of our months is; but he has determined to cut them off by an untimely death in the midst of their days. They were bloody men, and cut others off, and therefore God will justly cut them off: they were deceitful men, and defrauded others of the one-half perhaps of what was their due, and now God will cut them short, though not of that which was their due, yet of that which they counted upon.

III. He encourages himself and all good people to commit themselves to God, with confidence in him. He himself resolves to do so (Ps. 55:23): ?I will trust in thee, in thy providence, and power, and mercy, and not in my own prudence, strength, or merit; when bloody and deceitful men are cut off in the midst of their days I shall still live by faith in thee.? And this he will have others to do (Ps. 55:22): ?Cast thy burden upon the Lord,? whoever thou art that art burdened, and whatever the burden is. ?Cast thy gift upon the Lord? (so some read it); ?whatever blessings God has bestowed upon thee to enjoy commit them all to his custody, and particularly commit the keeping of thy soul to him.? Or, ?Whatever it is that thou desirest God should give thee, leave it to him to give it to thee in his own way and time. Cast thy care upon the Lord,? so the LXX., to which the apostle refers, 1 Pet. 5:7. Care is a burden; it makes the heart stoop (Prov. 12:25); we must cast it upon God by faith and prayer, commit our way and works to him; let him do as seemeth him good, and we will be satisfied. To cast our burden upon God is to stay ourselves on his providence and promise, and to be very easy in the assurance that all shall work for good. If we do so, it is promised, 1. That he will sustain us, both support and supply us, will himself carry us in the arms of his power, as the nurse carries the sucking-child, will strengthen our spirits so by his Spirit as that they shall sustain the infirmity. He has not promised to free us immediately from that trouble which gives rise to our cares and fears; but he will provide that we be not tempted above what we are able, and that we shall be able according as we are tempted. 2. That he will never suffer the righteous to be moved, to be so shaken by any troubles as to quit either their duty to God or their comfort in him. However, he will not suffer them to be moved for ever (as some read it); though they fall, they shall not be utterly cast down.

- Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary