Verses 1–8

In these verses we have,

I. David praying. Prayer is a salve for every sore and a relief to the spirit under every burden: Give ear to my prayer, O God! Ps. 55:1, 2. He does not set down the petitions he offered up to God in his distress, but begs that God would hear the prayers which, at every period, his heart lifted up to God, and grant an answer of peace to them: Attend to me, hear me. Saul would not hear his petitions; his other enemies regarded not his pleas; but, “Lord, be thou pleased to hearken to me. Hide not thyself from my supplication, either as one unconcerned and not regarding it, nor seeming to take any notice of it, or as one displeased, angry at me, and therefore at my prayer.” If we, in our prayers, sincerely lay open ourselves, our case, our hearts, to God, we have reason to hope that he will not hide himself, his favours, his comforts, from us.

II. David weeping; for in this he was a type of Christ that he was a man of sorrows and often in tears (Ps. 55:2): “I mourn in my complaint” (or in my meditation, my melancholy musings), “and I make a noise; I cannot forbear such sighs and groans, and other expressions of grief, as discover it to those about me.” Great griefs are sometimes noisy and clamorous, and thus are, in some measure, lessened, while those increase that are stifled, and have no vent given them. But what was the matter? Ps. 55:3. It is because of the voice of the enemy, the menaces and insults of Absalom’s party, that swelled, and hectored, and stirred up the people to cry out against David, and shout him out of his palace and capital city, as afterwards the chief priests stirred up the mob to cry out against the Son of David, Away with him—Crucify him. Yet it was not the voice of the enemy only that fetched tears from David’s eyes, but their oppression, and the hardship he was thereby reduced to: They cast iniquity upon me. They could not justly charge David with any mal-administration in his government, could not prove any act of oppression or injustice upon him, but they loaded him with calumnies. Though they found no iniquity in him relating to his trust as a king, yet they cast all manner of iniquity upon him, and represented him to the people as a tyrant fit to be expelled. Innocency itself is no security against violent and lying tongues. They hated him themselves, nay, in wrath they hated him; there was in their enmity both the heat and violence of anger, or sudden passion, and the implacableness of hatred and rooted malice; and therefore they studied to make him odious, that others also might hate him. This made him mourn, and the more because he could remember the time when he was the darling of the people, and answered to his name, Davida beloved one.

III. David trembling, and in great consternation. We may well suppose him to be so upon the breaking out of Absalom’s conspiracy and the general defection of the people, even those that he had little reason to suspect. 1. See what fear seized him. David was a man of great boldness, and in some very eminent instances had signalized his courage, and yet, when the danger was surprising and imminent, his heart failed him. Let not the stout man therefore glory in his courage any more than the strong man in his strength. Now David’s heart is sorely pained within him; the terrors of death have fallen upon him, Ps. 55:4. Fearfulness of mind and trembling of body came upon him, and horror covered and overwhelmed him, Ps. 55:5. When without are fightings no marvel that within are fears; and, if it was upon the occasion of Absalom’s rebellion, we may suppose that the remembrance of his sin in the matter of Uriah, which God was now reckoning with him for, added as much more to the fright. Sometimes David’s faith made him, in a manner, fearless, and he could boldly say, when surrounded with enemies, I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. But at other times his fears prevail and tyrannise; for the best men are not always alike strong in faith. 2. See how desirous he was, in this fright, to retire into a desert, any where to be far enough from hearing the voice of the enemy and seeing their oppressions. He said (Ps. 55:6), said it to God in prayer, said it to himself in meditation, said it to his friends in complaint, O that I had wings like a dove! Much as he had been sometimes in love with Jerusalem, now that it had become a rebellious city he longed to get clear of it, and, like the prophet, wished he had in the wilderness a lodging place of way-faring men, that he might leave his people and go from them; for they were an assembly of treacherous men, Jer. 9:2. This agrees very well with David’s resolution upon the breaking out of that plot, Arise, let us flee, and make speed to depart, 2 Sam. 15:14. Observe, (1.) How he would make his escape. He was so surrounded with enemies that he saw not how he could escape but upon the wing, and therefore he wishes, O that I had wings! not like a hawk that flies swiftly; he wishes for wings, not to fly upon the prey, but to fly from the birds of prey, for such his enemies were. The wings of a dove were most agreeable to him who was of a dove-like spirit, and therefore the wings of an eagle would not become him. The dove flies low, and takes shelter as soon as she can, and thus would David fly. (2.) What he would make his escape from—from the wind, storm, and tempest, the tumult and ferment that the city was now in, and the danger to which he was exposed. Herein he was like a dove, that cannot endure noise. (3.) What he aimed at in making this escape, not victory but rest: “I would fly away and be at rest, Ps. 55:6. I would fly any where, if it were to a barren frightful wilderness, ever so far off, so I might be quiet,” Ps. 55:7. Note, Peace and quietness in silence and solitude are what the wisest and best of men have most earnestly coveted, and the more when they have been vexed and wearied with the noise and clamour of those about them. Gracious souls wish to retire from the hurry and bustle of this world, that they may sweetly enjoy God and themselves; and, if there be any true peace on this side heaven, it is they that enjoy it in those retirements. This makes death desirable to a child of God, that it is a final escape from all the storms and tempests of this world to perfect and everlasting rest.