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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 55


1 For the leader. On stringed instruments. A maskil of David.


Listen, God, to my prayer; do not hide from my pleading;


hear me and give answer. I rock with grief; I groan


at the uproar of the enemy, the clamor of the wicked. They heap trouble upon me, savagely accuse me.


My heart pounds within me; death's terrors fall upon me.


Fear and trembling overwhelm me; shuddering sweeps over me.


I say, "If only I had wings like a dove that I might fly away and find rest.


Far away I would flee; I would stay in the desert. Selah


I would soon find a shelter from the raging wind and storm."


Lord, check and confuse their scheming. I see violence and strife in the city


making rounds on its walls day and night. Within are mischief and evil;


treachery is there as well; oppression and fraud never leave its streets.


If an enemy had reviled me, that I could bear; If my foe had viewed me with contempt, from that I could hide.


But it was you, my other self, my comrade and friend,


You, whose company I enjoyed, at whose side I walked in procession in the house of God.


Let death take them by surprise; let them go down alive to Sheol, for evil is in their homes and hearts.


But I will call upon God, and the LORD will save me.


At dusk, dawn, and noon I will grieve and complain, and my prayer will be heard.


God will give me freedom and peace from those who war against me, though there are many who oppose me.


God, who sits enthroned forever, will hear me and humble them. For they will not mend their ways; they have no fear of God.


They strike out at friends and go back on their promises.


Softer than butter is their speech, but war is in their hearts. Smoother than oil are their words, but they are unsheathed swords.


Cast your care upon the LORD, who will give you support. God will never allow the righteous to stumble.


But you, God, will bring them down to the pit of destruction. These bloodthirsty liars will not live half their days, but I put my trust in you.



1 [Psalm 55] The psalmist, betrayed by intimate friends ( Psalm 55:14-15, 20-21), prays that God punish those oath breakers and thus be acknowledged as the protector of the wronged. The sufferings of the psalmist include both ostracism ( Psalm 55:4) and mental turmoil ( Psalm 55:5-6), culminating in the wish to flee society ( Psalm 55:7-9). The wish for a sudden death for one's enemies ( Psalm 55:16) occurs elsewhere in the psalms; an example of such a death is the earth opening under the wicked Dathan and Abiram ( Numbers 16:31-32). The psalmist, confident of vindication, exhorts others to a like trust in the God of justice ( Psalm 55:23). The psalm is not so much for personal vengeance as for a public vindication of God's righteousness now. There was no belief in an afterlife where such vindication could take place.

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