Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Betrayal of a Friend

[To the chief Musician on Neg'inoth, Maskil, A Psalm of David]

1 Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication.

2 Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise;

3 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.

4 My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.

5 Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.

6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.

7 Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.

8 I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.

9 Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city.

10 Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it.

11 Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.

12 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:

13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.

14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.

15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.

16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me.

17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.

18 He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.

19 God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.

20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.

21 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.

22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

23 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.

—Psalm 55 KJV Bible

This is a psalm of David. In the song, David laments the treachery of an intimate friend. David prays in his anguish, with anger toward his enemies, and with assurance of God’s answer.

The psalm superscription states that this is a “maskil”—Hebrew, meaning “a hedge.” In the context of the psalms, it is thought to mean either a contemplative or teaching psalm, or a psalm written in a clever way. Thirteen psalms are described as "maskils." they include 32, 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89 and 142.
The psalm superscription also states it is to be performed on "Neginoth." This Hebrew expression is interpreted as "stringed instruments." this direction is used in Psalm 4, 6, 54, 55, 61, 67, and 76.

The Hebrew "selah" is used in verses 7 and 19 of the psalm. The word is thought to be a musical notation to the choir director and musicians. It loosely translates as a break in the song or an instruction to pause and reflect, perhaps with a musical interlude. Some translators suggest the phrase "stop and listen." Others say that a more concise translation would be "let those with eyes see and with ears hear." The word "selah" has been compared to the word "amen" in that it stresses to the listener the importance of the preceding passage. The word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms.

In verses 1 through 8, David is in anguish. He describes at great length how his enemies have affected him, making him restless, troubled, fearful, and without resolve.

In verses 9 through 11, David describes his anger toward his enemies. In verse 9, David wishes that the great confusion which occurred at Babel would also happen to his enemies. By confusing the language of the people at Babel, they could no longer understand each other and coordinate their efforts. Frustrated, they finally scattered, going their own ways. In verses 10 and 11, David expresses his kingly concern that Jerusalem had become a parade ground for rebels and terrorists.

In verses 12 and 15, David explains that an intimate friend has betrayed him. In verse 13, David directly addresses the traitor; the close friend who turned against him. In verse 15, David asks that God take the traitor, alive, directly to “sheol,” the place of the dead. David’s imagery suggests a spectacular judgment similar to that experienced by Korah and his fellow rebels when they questioned God’s appointment of Moses and Aaron to lead them in the wilderness (Numbers 16:30-32).

In verses 16 through 23, David is sure that God will answer his prayer. In verses 20 and 21, David explains how the traitor was such a smooth talker, desiring to make war against those who wanted peace. Finally, in verses 22 and 23, David is so confident of his deliverance that he encourages the listener to trust in God.

Father, I thank You for my friends. Help me to be a good friend to those who put their trust in me. Keep me from being so shortsighted and quick tempered as to repay a perceived betrayal with another betrayal. In Your love, help me to be supportive of those who are close to me.


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