Psalm 55 Devotions
by Pastor Mark Hudson
Here is a suggested outline by Derek Kidner of Ps 55. 1-3 The Intolerable strain; 4-8 The Urge to Escape; 9-11 The Forces of Anarchy; 12-15 The False Friend; 16-19 The God who Hears; 20-21 The Smooth Talker; 22-23 The Long View. Since this is a longer Psalm, we will use this outline rather than show other scholar’s outline. This is a complaint as you can see. Let’s follow the Psalmist’ grievances.
The next section 4-8, the Psalmist wants to get out of Dodge. He continues his complaint. His heart is in anguish, the terrors of death have fallen upon him in v. 4. He is afraid, he trembles and horror overwhelms him in v. 5. He wants to fly out of his wicked city. Sounding like Jeremiah (9:2), he prefers the quiet and solitude of a cabin to living in this wicked city vs. 7-8.
In 9-11, the Psalmist describes not himself but his city. The pain is compounded because the evil is within his city. Where righteousness should reign, violence and strife surround him v.9. Iniquity and mischief and evildoers are active in evil day and night v 10. Destruction, oppression and deceit are everywhere v. 11. This accurately describes every city no matter the size.
In vs. 12-15, betrayal cuts him like a knife. Anyone who has been betrayed knows the pain and confusion that follows betrayal. This is often associated with Judas’ betrayal of Christ. In v. 15, we read the prayer for judgment against his enemies. I plan to provide some theological reflection on those verses when we come to Ps. 58.
Kidner titles vs. 16-19 as The God who Hears. I love the fact that even though the Psalmist is complaining to God, the author knows God is listening. For those of you who are having a hard time, v. 17 is your verse, “Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, And He will hear my voice.” The complaining is to God though. If you need to murmur or need to complain, talk to God about it rather than a friend.
Then vs. 20-21 is labeled The Smooth Talker. There are always those who can talk their way into or out of situations. As the saying goes, you can fool some people some of the time . . . and the Psalmist depict their speech as “smoother than butter, but his heart was war. His words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.” Be careful of such people. We all know them and they still can carry the day.
We conclude with this last section vs. 22-23 called The Long View. The complaint is valid. The murmurings are understandable. The enemies are real. But we can throw it all on God. He can handle all our problems and all the problems in the world. And He is not passive about evil. God does not just listen and care. Oh, no. God will bring evil people down to the pit of destruction. Men (and women) of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days.
Instead of questioning God and His wrath, think of innocent people who have been wronged. The poor, minorities, or anyone who has been cheated and ask, “Do they want justice?” God loves justice and so do those who have been wronged.
Father, I ask that you would help me to direct my murmuring and complaints to you. Help me not to be a complainer but also help me to be honest and live in reality. I know there is evil, real evil where I live and sometimes in my family or church. While sometimes I do need to get away to refresh and rest, remind me to not hold on to my problems but cast them, throw them at You. Thank You for giving me the problems I need to drive me to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.