Psalm 55: 1-21:
Give ear to my prayer, O God, And do not hide Yourself from my supplication.
2 Attend to me, and hear me; I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily,
3 Because of the voice of the enemy, Because of the oppression of the wicked; For they bring down trouble upon me, And in wrath they hate me.
4 My heart is severely pained within me, And the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
5 Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, And horror has overwhelmed me.
6 So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.
7 Indeed, I would 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 around it on its walls; Iniquity and trouble are also in the midst of it.
11 Destruction is in its midst; Oppression and deceit do not depart from its streets.
12 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him.
13 But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance.
14 We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.
15 Let death seize them; Let them go down alive 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 I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice.
18 He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me, For there were many against me.
19 God will hear, and afflict them, Even He who abides from of old. Selah Because they do not change,
Therefore they do not fear God.
20 He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him; He has 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 they were drawn swords.
The Bible provides numerous examples of God delivering his people from suffering, oppression, and violence. In Gen. 6-9, we read of God's judging the "violence" (6:11) of a world gone wrong, and through that judgment, delivering Noah and his family. The book of Exodus tells of God "remembering" His covenant and "hearing" (Ex. 2:23-24) the groans of His people suffering violence under the domineering hand of Egypt. God's people suffer, they cry out, and God hears.
In fact, one of the most common laments in Scripture includes prayers to God to protect the writer from enemy harm. Psalm 55 follows this literary pattern, and it also carries a unique twist--making it especially relevant for sufferers of domestic abuse. Here, the enemy posing harm to the psalmist is named as a "companion" and "familiar friend" (verse 13). Psalm 55 is a psalm of betrayal by someone close to the writer, which correlates closely to the victim's experience of intimate partner violence. Derek Kidner outlines the psalm in the following way:
• The intolerable strain (verses 1-3)
• The urge to escape (verses 4-8)
• The forces of anarchy (verses 9-11)
• The false friend (verses 12-15)
• The God who hears (verses 16-19)
• The smooth talker (verses 20-21)
• The long view (verses 22-23)
In the end, this psalm provides a very helpful expression of emotion and lament for anyone facing suffering, but especially those who have been harmed by someone who used to be a friend and trusted companion. David's emotions are deep and real. He is violently oppressed and he laments this fully, while expressing his aching hope for justice to be done to his enemy. He also calls out to God as the only one who really sees what is happening, asking Him to "hide not" and respond, rather than overlook this extreme injustice.
According to scholar John Goldingay, Psalm 55 encourages those suffering...
The original intent of God was shalom, a term that means fullness of peace, universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight. Shalom entails harmonious relationships with both God and others, a profound and comprehensive sort of well-being, and an abundant welfare overflowing with peace, justice, and common good (Isa. 32:14-20). Abuse breaks shalom. -Reformation 21
22 Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
23 But You, O God, shall bring them down to the pit of destruction; Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; But I will trust in You.
It is a heavy burden; roll it on Omnipotence. It is thy burden now, and it crushes thee; but when the Lord takes it, He will make nothing of it. If thou art called still to bear, “he will sustain thee.” It will be on Him and not on thee. Thou wilt be so upheld under it that the burden will be a blessing. Bring the Lord into the matter, and thou wilt stand upright under that which in itself would bow thee down.
Our worst fear is lest our trial should drive us from the path of duty; but this the Lord will never suffer. If we are righteous before Him, He will not endure that our affliction should move us from our standing. In Jesus He accepts us as righteous, and in Jesus He will keep us so.
What about the present moment? Art thou going forth to this day’s trial alone? Are thy poor shoulders again to be galled with the oppressive load? Be not so foolish. Tell the Lord all about thy grief and leave it with Him. Don’t cast your burden down and then take it up again; but roll it on the Lord and leave it there. Then shalt thou walk at large, a joyful and unburdened believer, singing the praises of thy great Burden-bearer. - --Charles Spurgeon