The Psalms of David

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What Psalm 55 means

Study the psalm in 3 parts:

   ·    Verses 1 – 8: Here David tells us that his enemies have made him afraid.

   ·    Verses 9 – 14: Here David tells us about his friend that told his enemies about him.

   ·    Verses 15 – 23: Here David prays that God will send his enemies to *Sheol.

Verse 3: "Pain" here is not only what his body feels. It is what he also feels in his mind (or, as the Jews would say, in his *heart).

Verse 4: So, his *heart is "jumping". Here it means his real *heart, not his thoughts. He can feel his *heart inside him. It is *like when we feel our *hearts after we have run fast! It also happens to us when we are afraid. David was afraid that his enemies would kill him.

Verse 5: Not only does our *heart jump when we are afraid. Our whole body *shakes, or trembles. It cannot stop moving.

Verse 6: The bird here is a *dove. Christians use the dove as a sign of *peace. David wants *wings *like a bird, then he can fly away to a place where his enemies cannot find him. A bird uses its *wings when it flies.

Verse 7: The wild place, or *wilderness, was near Jerusalem. Not many people lived there. David’s enemies did not live there, so there would be no fighting!

Verse 8: The "angry wind and storm" were the things that his enemies were doing. They were trying to kill David.

In this part of the psalm, *SELAH may be in the wrong place. Many people think that it should be after verse 8. We are not sure what *selah means. Most people now think it means a place where we stop and think, or pray, or make music.

Verse 9: The city is Jerusalem, where David lived. This may have happened when Absalom tried to become king.

Verse 11: Oppression is when people with power hurt people that have no power. It is common in our world today.

Verse 13: "A man just *like me" may mean a king or a *prince. It was somebody that was often with David. It was not a servant or a slave.

Verse 15: Here David is praying that his enemies will die. *Sheol was where dead people went. Very bad people went to a part of *Sheol that they called "the *pit".

(Verse 23) 2 Samuel tells us that Ahithophel and Absalom both died before David came back to Jerusalem. "*Evil has made a home in them" means that "they are *evil (or very bad) people".

Verse 17: The Jews prayed to God 7 times a day in later years. Here the *psalmist, David, prays 3 times a day.

Verse 19: This verse is very difficult to translate. Bible students are not sure what it means. Our translation is one way to understand it. Again, *SELAH seems to be in the wrong place. It is not usual to find it in the middle of a verse!

Verse 20: The word "he" in this verse is confusing. "He" is not God, who was "he" in verses 17 and 18. "He" in verse 20 may be:

   ·    either David’s best friend from verse 13

   ·    or one of the people that are not afraid of God in verse 19

   ·    or both of them!

Verse 21: This verse is a good example of poetry, both Hebrew and English.

   ·    In English poetry we try to make the words sound beautiful. Also, to tell us things, using words in a way that is not usual. Words can be *like butter or *oil, soft and *soothing. Such words do not hurt us. But a person may not mean what he says. He may tell *lies.

   ·    In Hebrew poetry the second part of a verse often says the same as the first part. But, it uses different words.

Verse 22: Peter repeats this verse in 1 Peter 5:7 in the New Testament. Peter used the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The "he" is again difficult as it was in verse 19. So we have used the Greek translation of the Old Testament just *like Peter did. "His people" in both the Hebrew and Greek Old Testaments is "the *righteous". Look after Psalm 5 (in Psalms 1-41) to see what *righteous means.

Verse 23: "Half their lives" means 30 or 40 years, not 70 or 80 years. This is because in the Bible a life is 70 or 80 years.

Something to do

1.    Learn to say verse 22 by heart. ("By heart" means that you can remember it without looking at the words.)

2.    When your friends hurt you, read Psalm 55. Do not try to hurt your friends. Let God do anything that must be done.

3.    If you have a Bible, read 2 Samuel chapters 15 to 19. It will tell you about Ahithophel and Absalom.

4.    Satan does not like the Bible. Sometimes he attacks it. He tries to destroy it. Can you find three places where this may have happened in Psalm 55? Satan cannot destroy God’s Word. It still speaks to us! (If you want a clue to give you help, look in verses 7, 9 and 22.)

5.    Can you find examples of Hebrew poetry in verses 1, 6, 12 and 16?

The Silent *Dove Among Strangers

(or Do Not Be Afraid)

Psalm 56

The *Holy Spirit came down on to Jesus. The shape of his body was *like a *dove. A voice from *heaven said, "You are my Son that I love. You give to me a lot of pleasure". (Luke 3:22) (The *Holy Spirit is another name for God. A dove is a bird. The dove is often a sign of *peace or of the *Holy Spirit.)

Jesus said, "Do not be afraid of people that kill the body. They cannot kill the *soul. But rather, be afraid of him that can destroy both *soul and body in hell". (Matthew 10:28) (The *soul is the part of us that lives after our bodies die. *Hell is a place where bad people go when they die.)

Psalm 56

     (This is) for the music leader.
  Use (the music that we call) The Silent *Dove Among Strangers.
  (It is) a *miktam for David, when the Philistines caught him at Gath.

v1      God, be *gracious to me, because people are fighting me.
     *All day long they are attacking me.

v2      *All day long my enemies are fighting me.
     Many people are attacking me!

v3      *Most High, when I am afraid I will *trust in you.

v4      By God’s help I will *praise his word.
     By God’s help I will *trust in him. I will not be afraid.
     What can men (on earth) do to me?

v5      *All day long they make my words mean something else
       (that I did not mean).
     All their thoughts about me are bad thoughts against me.

v6      They meet together and hide themselves.
     They watch where I go and hope to kill me.

v7      Do not let them *get away with this!
     God, destroy these people, because you are angry with them.

v8      You count the times when I (cry because I) am not happy.
     Put all my *tears in your bottle.
     (Make sure that) they are all in your book.

v9      Then my enemies will turn back, on the day when I cry (to you).
     Then I will know that God is *on my side.

v10    By God’s help I will *praise (his) word.
     By the help of the *LORD I will *praise (his) word.

v11    By God’s help I will *trust in him.
     I will not be afraid of what *human beings can do to me.

v12    I have made special promises to you, God.
     I am ready to give you thanks and *praise.

v13    This is because you have saved my life from death.
     Keep my feet from falling so that I may walk before God and stay alive.

(You may know some of the words with asterisks but this psalm uses them in a way that you may not know.)

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