Psalm 55 (NIV)
1 Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;
2 hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
3 because of what my enemy is saying,
because of the threats of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering on me
and assail me in their anger.
4 My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
5 Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
6 I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
7 I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;
8 I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.”
22 Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.
23 But you, God, will bring down the wicked
into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful
will not live out half their days.
But as for me, I trust in you.
Sing this psalm with the Seedbed Psalter today! Visit the resource here.
Like Psalm 41, this is a psalm about the anguish and deep hurt of betrayal: “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you . . . my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God” (vv. 12–14). When we consider the work of Christ on our behalf, we often focus on his taking on our guilt—that is, his substitutionary atonement, whereby he dies in our place. This is, of course, at the heart of the atonement. However, Jesus not only bears our guilt, he also bears our pain and suffering. If the death of Jesus Christ was the only focus of redemption, then we would not have the extended passion narrative found in all four Gospels, which includes the betrayal, the pain of suffering, the false accusations, the loneliness of Caiaphas’s pit, and the sense of being forsaken on the cross before his death. Jesus not only provides the basis for our forgiveness, he also bears our fear, shame, anguish, and the pain of betrayal. This is why the traditional Eucharistic liturgy has enshrined betrayal and the heart of the church’s memory with the words “on the night he was betrayed . . .” (1 Cor. 11:23).
It is only in the context of the raw pain of this psalm that we can really hear the verse of this psalm that is quoted in the New Testament: “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you” (1 Pet. 5:7; quoting Ps. 55:22). This is not some empty promise, disconnected from the deepest challenges of life. This is the sure promise of God in the midst of anguish, pain, and betrayal. This is why David can end this psalm with the words “I trust in you” (v. 23).