Psalm 55:1-3

1. Give ear to my prayer, O God! and hide not thyself from my supplication. 2. Attend unto me, and answer me. I will wail1 in my address,2 and make a noise.3 3. By reason of the voice of the enemy, under the affliction of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they fight against me.


1. Give ear to my prayer, O God! From the language with which the psalm opens, we may conclude that David at this time was laboring under heavy distress. It could be no ordinary amount of it which produced such an overwhelming effect upon a saint of his distinguished courage. The translation which has been given of dyra, arid, I will prevail, does violence to the context, for, so far from boasting of the fortitude which would govern his address, he is anxious to convey an impression of his wretchedness, by intimating that he was constrained to cry out aloud. What is added in the third verse, By reason of the voice of the enemy, may be viewed as connected either with the first verse or that immediately preceding, or with both. By the voice some understand such a noise as is occasioned by a multitude of men; as if he had said, that the enemy was mustering many troops against him: but he rather alludes to the threatenings which we may suppose that Saul was in the habit of venting upon this innocent prophet. The interpretation, too, which has been given of the casting of iniquity upon him, as if it meant that his enemies loaded him with false accusations, is strained, and scarcely consistent with the context. The words are designed to correspond with the succeeding clause, where it is said that his enemies fought against him in wrath; and, therefore, to cast iniquity upon him means, in my opinion, no more than to discharge their unjust violence upon him for his destruction, or iniquitously to plot his ruin. If any distinction be intended between the two clauses, perhaps the fighting against him in wrath may refer to their open violence, and the casting of iniquity upon him4 to their deceitful treachery. In this case, Nwa, aven, which I have rendered iniquity, will signify hidden malice. The affliction of the wicked is here to be understood in the active sense of persecution. And in applying the term wicked to his enemies, he does not so much level an accusation against them as implicitly assert his own innocence. Our greatest comfort under persecution is conscious rectitude, the reflection that we have not deserved it; for there springs from this the hope that we will experience the help of the Lord, who is the shield and defense of the distressed.

1 The verb dyra, arid, which Calvin renders, "I will wail," is rendered by Boothroyd, "I am distressed, confused, distracted." Mudge is of opinion that dyra, arid, is derived from dry, yarad, to tincture, to drop, etc.; and hence he reads, "While I weep in my complaint."

2 "Meditation or discoursing, talk, prayer, complaint. The Hebrew siach signifieth any large discourse or exercise of the mind or mouth, by busy musing, talking, praying, communing with one's self or others." -- Ainsworth.

3 "Heb. am in a violent tumultuous agitation, as the waves of the sea." -- Bishop Horne. The original word Mwh, hum, according to Gesenius, signifies "to put in motion, throw into commotion, consternation, to agitate; and Hiph. to make commotion, to make a noise, spoken of an unquiet mind, internal commotion, Psalm 55:3."

4 "Literally slide iniquity upon me; i.e., by oblique and artful insinuations they asperse my character. The sentiment of the whole line I take to be this, that the enemies of the Psalmist, by sly insinuations, brought him under the suspicion of the worst enemies, and then wreaked their malice upon him under the color of a just resentment." -- Horsley.