Psalm 55 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Psalm 55 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 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.

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.

"Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell."
How should we treat our enemies?
This psalm was probably written when David had to flee for his own son Absalom. His most closest council and trusted friend, Ahithophel, had betrayed David and had chosen the side of Absalom, see 2 Sam. 15:12.
Note firstly that the psalmist does not ask for the moment that he can personally kill his enemy. He asks God for his judgment. Note secondly that we are here in a life and death situation. If Absalom had followed Ahithophel's council, 2 Sam. 17:1-4, David would have been killed and all David's sons would have been killed. And the Messiah would never have been born. Doing good to your enemy doesn't mean sitting and waiting till he can kill you. You are allowed to defend your life and liberty and the life and liberty of your fellow countrymen. And ask God for help as David does.
And finally, there is some difference between how we personally should treat our enemies and how the state should treat its enemies. The state has the power of the sword, Rom. 13:3-4, but we as individuals don't have that. David is praying here as the sovereign of Israel, and that cannot be compared to the prayer of a subject of the sovereign.

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.

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.

Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days.
The "wicked" die young. But Job (21:7) complains that they live to a ripe old age.
Do the wicked lived long and prosper?
The psalmist speaks here not only of wicked man as in Job 21:7, but in particular of bloody and deceitful men. As John Gill says:

The Jews say, that all the years of Doeg were but thirty four, and of Ahithophel thirty three; and probably Judas might be about the same age. Or the sense is, that, generally speaking, such sort of men die in the prime of their days, and do not live half the time that, according to the course of nature, they might live; and which they promise themselves they should, and their friends hoped and expected they would: