The Moral Corruption of Jerusalem; Reproached by a Friend
The Moral Corruption of Jerusalem; Reproached by a Friend
Psalm 55. This is a Psalm of David, and it is a Maschil Psalm, meaning “an instruction”. Historically, the backdrop of this Psalm is the time of Absalom’s rebellion. During this time, there were many people who David expected to remain faithful to him, that turned against him. Notable, Ahithophel the counsellor joined himself to Absalom, and it would seem that he is the “familiar friend” of Psalm 55. This Psalm looks forward to the final days of our Lord’s pathway, when He surveyed the city of Jerusalem in all its wickedness, and felt keenly the betrayal of Judas. Prophetically, this Psalm is set in the great tribulation, in which the remnant will be overwhelmed by the depths of evil that have entered their own country, and the city especially. They feel betrayed by Antichrist, who has broken his covenant (v.20)! It might be the very same covenant as between the beast and Israel which was confirmed for “one week”, but “in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease” (Dan. 9:27). It would seem that the covenant would include protection for Israel, but this will be taken away, according to the warning of Isa. 28:18; “And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.” It would seem that Antichrist in some way breaches the terms of the covenant, perhaps by causing Jewish worship to cease, setting up the Abomination of Desolation in the holy place, and persecuting the faithful (see v.20).1
To the chief Musician. On stringed instruments: an instruction. Of David.
1 Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication.
2 Attend unto me, and answer me: I wander about in my plaint, and I moan aloud,
3 Because of the voice of the enemy; because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in anger they persecute me.
vv.1-3 Cry for Deliverance From Oppression. The Psalm begins with a cry to God for deliverance, that God would first of all hear the prayer of the suffering remnant. The reason for the suffering is “the voice of the enemy” and “the oppression of the wicked”. They speak of the persecution risen against them, and we can certainly see the prophetic application of this to the faithful remnant in the great tribulation.
4 My heart is writhing within me, and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.
5 Fear and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.
6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away, and be at rest;
7 Behold, I would flee afar off, I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah;
8 I would hasten my escape from the stormy wind, from the tempest.
vv.4-8 Fear, and the Desire to Flee. The faithful speak of a great inner turmoil within them, the “terrors of death” upon them. It is a terrible day when Jews, faithful Jews, would rather fly away into the wilderness then remain in the city of Jerusalem. But such is the “stormy wind”, the “tempest” of evil that is raging within the walls of that city. Prophetically, this might look forward to Christ, at the end of His pathway, when the Jewish leaders took counsel together to put the Lord to death. But further than that, it looks on to the day when Antichrist will usurp the rule of Jerusalem, and the rule of all Israel, and begin an angry campaign of persecution against the faithful.
9 Swallow them up, Lord; divide their tongue: for I have seen violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof; and iniquity and mischief are in the midst of it.
11 Perversities are in the midst thereof; and oppression and deceit depart not from its streets.
vv.9-11 The Condition of the City. The remnant now speak of the condition of the city. They pray that the Lord would swallow up the enemy, because of the violence and strife in the city. They speak of the iniquity and mischief that are carried on in the midst of the city, on the walls of the city, and the oppression and deceit in the streets. We must remember that Jerusalem was God’s earthly center under the Old Covenant, and it will be extremely troubling to the faithful to see it in this condition.
12 For it is not an enemy that hath reproached me — then could I have borne it; neither is it he that hateth me that hath magnified himself against me — then would I have hidden myself from him;
13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, mine intimate, my familiar friend. …
14 We who held sweet intercourse together. To the house of God we walked amid the throng.
vv.12-14 Reproach From a Friend. But more deep and personal than the corruption of the city is the reproach that the faithful experience from “a friend”. If it was an enemy that had turned against them, they could have borne it, because reproach from an enemy is expected. Historically, this refers to the betrayal of Ahithophel, and the grief it produces in David when the news reached him (2 Sam. 15:31). We can clearly see that this is also prophetic of Judas, who betrayed Jesus. The one that hated Christ, and turned against Him, was “a man mine equal, mine intimate, my familiar friend”. With sorrow the faithful can look back on the past, on the friendship they had together – or thought they had together – even walking together to the house of God in the mixed multitude. But it is also prophetic of Antichrist who will make himself out as a friend to the Jews at the beginning, and then betray them. Also, the apostate Jews under the leadership of Antichrist will turn against their friends and family who have faith, and betray them (Micah 7:5-6).
15 Let death seize upon them, let them go down alive into Sheol. For wickedness is in their dwellings, in their midst.
16 As for me, unto God will I call; and Jehovah will save me.
17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray and moan aloud; and he will hear my voice.
18 He hath redeemed my soul in peace from the battle against me: for there were many about me.
19 GOD will hear, and afflict them: he that is seated of old, (Selah) … because there is no change in them, and they fear not God.
vv.15-19 The Prayer of the Remnant. The prayer of the remnant is that the wicked will be destroyed. But as for the faithful, they call upon God and Jehovah (God’s name in relationship with Israel) will save them. The remnant is cast on the Lord “Evening, and morning, and at noon”, much like Daniel, who prayed three times each day. They can anticipate the deliverance from the battle raging against them. Their confidence is that God will hear and will rise to their deliverance. The faithful compare the immutability of God; “he that is seated of old”, with the unchanging character of the wicked; “they fear not God”.
20 He hath put forth his hands against such as are at peace with him; he hath profaned his covenant.
21 Smooth were the milky words of his mouth, but his heart was war; his words were softer than oil, yet are they drawn swords.
vv.20-21 The Treachery of Betrayal. The Psalm returns again to speak of the treacherous betrayal against the faithful. The enemy has “profaned his covenant”, turning his hands against those that were at peace with him. It might be the very same covenant as between the Beast and Israel which was confirmed for “one week” (Dan. 9:27). It would seem that Antichrist in some way breaches the terms of the covenant, perhaps by causing Jewish worship to cease, setting up the Abomination of Desolation in the holy place, and persecuting the faithful. In v.21, the malicious intention of the wicked is now revealed under the friendly false exterior; “Smooth were the milky words of his mouth, but his heart was war; his words were softer than oil, yet are they drawn swords”.
22 “Cast thy burden upon Jehovah, and “he” will sustain thee:” [quoted 1 Peter 5:7] he will never suffer the righteous to be moved.
23 And thou, O God, wilt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days. But as for me, I will confide in thee.
vv.22-23 Trust in God. The faithful encourage themselves to cast their burdens on Jehovah, and He will deliver them. This verse is quoted by Peter in 1 Peter 5:7, which shows that at all times, in all dispensations, the faithful can cast their cares on God, who cares for them. They have confidence that God will bring destruction to the bloody and deceitful men that have treated them so horribly. But the faithful maintain their confidence in God.
I cast all my cares upon You
I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet
And any time I don’t know what to do
I will cast all my cares upon You.2
- We have, I apprehend, in Psalm 55, the overwhelming sense of the position when Antichrist has broken his covenant, and has turned against the Jews, particularly the saints but rejecting everything Jewish, and wickedness is rampant in the city, but it is also especially the place of Christ among the Jews, and Judas. – Darby, J.N. Notes and Comments, Vol. 3
- Kocijan, David. I Cast all my Cares Upon You.