Psalm 55

Cast your burden on the Lord,
and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
God, You will bring them down
to the Pit of destruction;
men of bloodshed and treachery
will not live out half their days.
But I will trust in You.

This Psalm is explained and its lessons addressed at Daily Tehillim: “. . .according to the Radak and other commentators, was composed during the rebellion mounted by Avshalom, David’s son.  Specifically, this prayer was written in response to the news that Ahitofel, David’s skilled and renowned advisor and strategist, had sided with Avshalom.  We read in the Book of Shemuel II (15:31) that upon hearing of Ahitofel’s support for Avshalom, David prayed, “Foil Ahitofel’s plan, O God!”  David was well aware of Ahitofel’s brilliance and experience in military strategy and thus realized Avshalom’s distinct advantage in this campaign.  It appears that Psalm 55 presents the complete version of the prayer David offered in response to Ahitofel’s siding with Avshalom, to which the verse in Shemuel II only very briefly alludes.

“Although David makes no explicit reference here to Avshalom or Ahitofel, speaking generally about the “enemy” and “wicked man” (verse 4), the context of this chapter can be inferred from a number of verses in which David describes his current plight.  Firstly, he speaks of the turmoil and chaos that has gripped the “city” (verses 10-12), which likely refers to David and his followers’ frantic departure from Jerusalem and Avshalom’s takeover of the capital city.  Even more revealingly, David describes his adversary as somebody who has not been his foe, as a person whom David had actually always admired, to whom he had looked for guidance, and with whom he would frequently confide (verses 13-15).  Later, he describes a person who betrays his comrades and speaks in false and deceitful flattery (verses 21-22).  These descriptions accurately portray Ahitofel, David’s longtime loyal advisor and confidant who has now committed himself to David’s destruction.

Israel-twr-005“This Psalm expresses the sense of fear, loneliness and dejection that results from being betrayed by one’s loyal peers.  Ahitofel’s betrayal leaves David in a state of such anxiety and disorientation that he wishes he could just fly like a bird to an uninhabited wilderness where he could seek refuge, as if entering an insulated building during a rainstorm (verses 7-9).  Having always depended upon Ahitofel’s wise counsel and guidance, David now feels particularly lost, vulnerable and powerless.

We all encounter situations where a condition to which we have grown accustomed suddenly changes, leaving us disoriented and with a feeling of lonely helplessness.  David here advises, “Cast your burden upon God, and he shall support you” (verse 23).  When left in a state of loneliness and vulnerability, a person must remember that the Almighty has not left him, and whatever basis for support that has been lost can be replaced by God Himself, who is capable of rescuing an individual from even the most difficult and seemingly insurmountable predicaments.” (emphasis added)

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