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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

2022.06.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 55

Read Psalm 55

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom was this Psalm committed (superscript)? Who wrote it and gave instruction concerning it? What does David ask God to give (Psalm 55:1a)? To what? What does he ask God not to do (verse 1b)? What additional requests does he make in Psalm 55:2a? For what reason in David (verse 2b)? For what reasons in his circumstances (Psalm 55:3)? How do Psalm 55:4-5 further describe his heart condition? What does he wish he could have and do (Psalm 55:6)? What does he suggest that he would then do (Psalm 55:7-8)? What does he ask the Lord to do (Psalm 55:9a)? To what, where, is he asking the Lord to respond in this way (Psalm 55:9-11)? What about his opposers makes them unbearable and inescapable (Psalm 55:12-13)? What had they previously done (Psalm 55:14)? What does David ask God to do to them (Psalm 55:15)? What hope does he have for this not to happen to him (Psalm 55:16)? How will he act upon this hope (Psalm 55:17)? What will the outcome have been (Psalm 55:18a)? Why—what have they done (verse 18b), and how will God respond (Psalm 55:19a–b), to what reality (verse 19c–d)? What God-rejecting behavior does Psalm 55:20a identify? What else is God-rejecting behavior (verse 20b)? What else is God-rejecting behavior (Psalm 55:21)? If man is so treacherous, where can reliable hope be found (Psalm 55:22c)? How do we obtain it (verse 22a, Psalm 55:23c)? What supplies this hope (Psalm 55:22b)? By contrast, what will God do to the wicked (Psalm 55:23a)? With what result (verse 23b)?

How does one escape overwhelming storms of attack and betrayal? Psalm 55 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the fear of God is better than the ability to fly, because He has all sight, hearing, power, and faithfulness to bear our burdens and make us stand immovable even in the midst of the trouble until He Himself destroys the trouble.

We are not to hide ourselves from a brother in need (cf. Deuteronomy 22:1Deuteronomy 22:3Deuteronomy 22:4). And God will surely not hide Himself from our prayers (Psalm 55:1). When it seems that His favor has been hidden in our circumstances, let us go to prayer, where He will not hide!

The Lord has put His saints through much in Scripture—particularly David, and his great Son, Jesus—so that we might be directed to lay hold of what has upheld them in trouble. And how great is the trouble in this Psalm! “moan noisily” (Psalm 55:2b). “heart severely pained” (Psalm 55:4a). “terrors of death” (verse 4b). “fearfulness and trembling” (Psalm 55:5a). “horror has overwhelmed” (verse 5). This is no small level of anxiety; the Holy Spirit has not left us with the option of thinking, “that’s well and good for David, but it wouldn’t stand up to the level of distress that I am facing.” And of course, Christ Himself has suffered even more greatly and as an example to us of the sort of situation in which we may yet entrust ourselves to Him Who judges justly (cf. 1 Peter 2:19–25).

This is especially true when the hostility is masked with a friendly face at church (Psalm 55:12-14). When the gang violence (Psalm 55:9-11) comes from fellow worshipers (Psalm 55:13) who say the right things (Psalm 55:14) but have no functional interaction with God (Psalm 55:19c–d), the gathering of the “saints” can become a place of the sort of pain and terror described above. It’s excruciating to be around people with smooth words (Psalm 55:21a, c) who are  in covenant with you (Psalm 55:20b), but are determined to advance themselves and take you down (verse 20a, Psalm 55:21b, verse 21d).

We wish we could hide from it, but we still have to go to worship (Psalm 55:12). And it is understandable that one would wish for wings to escape such a church (Psalm 55:6-8)! This is a stark contrast to Psalms like 42 and 43, and others, where the Psalmist is actually in the wilderness and wishes that he could be back at public worship.

But the Lord has something far better for believers than escape. Men think they are building a great city and making a great name for themselves, but God judges them wicked and violent. By the Spirit, David makes the connection to Babel, asking that his attackers would suffer the same fate (Psalm 55:9a).  

What does a believer do, when his co-worshipers don’t fear God? Do exactly the opposite. Take God into account. God hears them and will avenge (Psalm 55:19a). He’s done this before (verse 19b). The days of the wicked are numbered (Psalm 55:23a–b). So trust Him (verse 23c). Cast your burdens upon Him (Psalm 55:22a). He will sustain you (verse 22b). Your hope in Him will not be dashed (verse 22c).

God sees. God hears. God is faithful. God is powerful. He will destroy the wicked. And He is also merciful and compassionate. He will bear His people and their burdens. Whenever you are remembering those who are an agony to you, you don’t need wings to fly away; you need only to remember your God!

When have you experienced attack from a friend or church member? Why shouldn’t you be surprised when it happens? How would someone (or you!) end up doing that to someone else? What recourse do you have when it happens to you?

Sample prayer:  O Lord, we thank You for Your worship, in which You present Yourself to us and call us to present ourselves to You. Help us by Your Spirit, we pray! For we are quite capable of honoring You with our lips and having hearts that are far from You. But make us to honor You from the heart, that we might know You not only in Your worship, but as our hope and our help in all of our life and forever, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP55A “Give Ear” or TPH55 “O Hear My Cry for Mercy”

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