Today: [Psalm Fifty-Five] Destroying the Tongues of the Wicked. In this psalm David is betrayed by a trusted counselor. Rather than defend himself or use some scheme to change the situation he puts his trust in God. In his prayer David asks God to destroy the tongues of the wicked. As a result two people die a horrible death. Is this an appropriate prayer? Do we put ourselves in danger if we pray incorrectly in such a situation? This psalm will instruct us in these matters when we find ourselves in strife with others.
[Psa 55:1-23 KJV] 1 [[To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil, [A Psalm] of David.]] Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. 2 Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise; 3 Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me. 4 My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. 5 Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. 6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! [for then] would I fly away, and be at rest. 7 Lo, [then] would I wander far off, [and] remain in the wilderness. Selah. 8 I would hasten my escape from the windy storm [and] tempest.
This psalm is a psalm of lament as David is betrayed by others. The antagonist in this psalm is thought to be Ahitophel. Ahitophel is Bathsheba’s father, who betrayed David by counseling Absalom in overthrowing the kingdom. Ahitophel is seen by many scholars as a type of Judas who betrayed Jesus. He was a principal counselor and very close to David for a long period of time. His betrayal would have been particularly painful to David because of their trust relationship.
We can see from verses 1-2 that David responded very painfully to betrayal. From his earliest days after the anointing of the prophet Samuel he was constantly betrayed by those closest to him. He makes his complaint to God and cries out for deliverance. In verse 3 he complains about the voice of the enemy so we know that word was reaching David about what Ahitophel was saying and doing in the rebellion of Absalom. Listening to the evil report is almost irresistible. We want to know what people are saying about us – particularly our enemies. The fact of the matter is that our time is better spent taking these things to God rather than seeking out every word and every strategy of the enemy. In truth there is very little we can do to change the minds of those who consider themselves our detractors. Those things you cannot change are better left to God rather than wasting our time and energy frustrating ourselves over what we can do little about.
In verses 4-6 we see that David is afraid. He has heard the evil report it has had its impact upon him. He wishes to be a bird that he could fly away and hide. Have you ever wanted to run away and hide? Have ever wanted to pull the covers over your head and not face the day? This is how David felt. We can learn from David in his response to his own worry and torment. He took it to God. He actually not only prayed but sat down and composed a prayer which is why we have this particular psalm. He even goes so far as to share the psalm with others for which reason it winds up in the book of Psalms in the first place. This involved forethought, effort and deliberation. These are all characteristics which we would be benefited to emulate in our own prayer life.
9 Destroy, O Lord, [and] divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city. 10 Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow [are] in the midst of it. 11 Wickedness [is] in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets. 12 For [it was] not an enemy [that] reproached me; then I could have borne [it]: neither [was it] he that hated me [that] did magnify [himself] against me; then I would have hid myself from him: 13 But [it was] thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. 14 We took sweet counsel together, [and] walked unto the house of God in company. 15 Let death seize upon them, [and] let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness [is] in their dwellings, [and] among them. 16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. 17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
In verse 9 David petitions that the tongues of his enemy would be destroyed. We need to be careful when we pray. If in our prayer life we speak dispersions and curses on people we place ourselves in danger regarding what comes back on our own head. So when David asks the Father to destroy the tongue of his enemy what was the result? Ultimately Ahitophel commits suicide. That should give us pause. Remember that this rebellion was the result of David ordering the death of Bathsheba’s husband and taking her in adultery. David wasn’t in the right in the beginning of this matter. It could have been concluded that he was only getting what he deserved. So when God answers David’s prayer in this matter let us not conclude it was because David was in the right because he was not.
Why did God defend David? Because he was God’s anointed king. Because though he committed grievous sins he was a man that would repent – genuinely repent and quickly. There will be times that people will come against you who will not forgive you even though God has. Let your prayers be very circumspect in these situations. Let the fear of God guide you in what comes out of your mouth. David asks that their tongues would be destroyed and it happened. Ahitophel commits suicide and Absalom is ran down and killed by Joab, David’s general. Prayers will be answered. David grieved deeply for Absalom because he knew that the rebellion of Absalom was in part something he opened himself up to in his own sin.
When we pray – are we ever right to ask God to destroy the tongues of our enemies. Now David most certainly did not expect God to kill anyone when he prayed this. We must be careful not to tell God how to act or demand that God answer our prayer in a certain way. Even the prophet Isaiah spoke of condemning the tongues of our enemies in a very well known verse:
[Isa 54:17 KJV] 17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue [that] shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This [is] the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness [is] of me, saith the LORD.
We tend to read these verses for their poetic and inspirational value without regarding their instructive nature. I have been led by God to pray this way many times and it has always humbled me and provoked the fear of God in my life to see what happened next. I remember three men who came against Kitty and I in a matter. They prophesied falsely against us. They spoke lies and inflicted deep wounds in our life. We refused – absolutely refused to fight our own battle in this matter and we prayed Isa. 54:17. We watched as these men’s lives were uprooted and overthrown. It wasn’t what we wished for them but their design and plans that included coming against us in such a way were completely brought to nothing. One of the men is in prison for life. How sobering. We serve a God who is to be feared. We must know that when we are in these situations as either the persecuted or the persecutor there are consequences when someone chooses to humble themselves and pray as David.
18 He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle [that was] against me: for there were many with me. 19 God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God. 20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant. 21 [The words] of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war [was] in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet [were] they drawn swords. 22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. 23 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.
In verse 19 we see the difference between David and Absalom. David declares that the wicked are destroyed because “they had no changes”. In other words their minds were made up and not even God could change them. 1 Sam. 15:23 tells us that stubbornness is equivalent to idolatry in the eyes of God. When we launch into contention and strife and are not willing to yield or humble ourselves it is as though we have bowed ourselves to a pagan altar instead of serving God. These things never turn out well. David certainly had committed offenses but he had a heart after God but he genuinely repented and that right quickly.
In verse 22 David gives a direct word of counsel to those that read this psalm. When you are under this kind of pressure cast your burden upon the Lord. It is useless and vain to spend all your energy trying to change the minds of those who come against you. There is no benefit in trying to solve the problem yourself. The fact of the matter is that human beings are not prone to yielding once their minds are set. In my youth I have gone before religious minded rebels and literally pleaded with them on my knees for peace and harmony without avail. Wisdom says to go low and worship. Put your situation in the hands of God. Do not defend yourself or allow others to defend you. Wait upon God and trust in His plan. Ultimately you will come through intact and be able to move on in His blessing.
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