*Betraying a Friend

Psalm 55

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 55


Gordon Churchyard

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Words marked with a *star are described in the word list at the end.

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Jesus said to him, "Judas, are you *betraying the Son of man with a kiss?" (Luke 22:48) ("Betray" means "tell someoneís enemies everything about them".)

Psalm 55

  (This is) for the music leader.
(He must use) *musical instruments.
(It is) a *maskil for David.

v1   God, listen to my *prayer.
  Do not turn away when I cry for *mercy.

v2   Hear me and answer me.
  I cannot sleep because of my trouble. I am very *unhappy

v3   because of what my enemies say. They give me a lot of pain.
  And they are so angry that they *hate and make trouble for me.

v4   My *heart is jumping inside me.
  And all the fear of death is on every side of me.

v5   Great fear and *shaking have come to me.
  They are all over me.

v6   So I said, "I would like to fly away as a bird.
  Then I would find *peace.

v7   Yes! I would go far away and live in a wild place.   *SELAH

v8   I would hurry to a safe place,
  safe from angry wind and storm".

v9   *Lord, destroy (the *evil people)! Confuse their words!
  Because I see fighting and angry people in the city.

v10   They walk on its walls in the day and at night.
  There are *evil (things) and trouble inside it.

v11   *Cruel men that destroy people are in the city.
  People that tell *lies never leave her streets.

v12   For it was not an enemy that laughed at me.
  That would not have hurt me.
  It was not someone that fought against me and said bad things (to me).
  I could have hidden from him!

v13   But it was you, a man just *like me!
  We did things together, you were my best friend!

v14   We had good times together!
  We used to go with a crowd (of people) to the house of God!

v15   I want death to take (my enemies) by surprise!
  I want them to go down to *Sheol alive!
  Because *evil has made its home in them.

v16   But I will cry to God for help and the *LORD will make me safe.

v17   I will tell (God) that something is wrong,
  and cry (to him) in the evening, in the morning and at noon.
  He will listen to my voice.

v18   He will make me safe and well
  after the many times that I have fought against people
  (that are my enemies).

v19   God will listen to me and he will *punish them.
  (God) will always be King!  *SELAH
  He will never change towards the people that are not afraid of God.

v20   But my best friend attacks his friends.
  He does not do what he promised to do.

v21   What he says is as soft as butter, but there is war in his *heart.
  His words are as *soothing as *oil but really they are *like sharp knives.

v22   Take your problems to the *LORD. He will give you help.
  (The *LORD) will never let his people fall.

v23   And you, God, you will make bad people go to the *pit.
  (The *pit) will destroy them.
  (It will destroy) the people that tell *lies and kill (people).
  They will only live half their lives!
  But I will *trust in you, God.

 The Story of Psalm 55

David had a friend. They did a lot of good things together. But one day the friend *betrayed David. David thought that his friend liked him, but he was wrong. His friend worked for Davidís enemies. This is *like Jesusí friend Judas. Judas told Jesusí enemies where to catch Jesus. Judas *betrayed Jesus as Davidís friend *betrayed David. But who was Davidís friend?

    Maybe it was Ahithophel. You will find the story in 2 Samuel 15:31; 16:15-23 and 17:1-23. Old Jewish Bibles tell us that it was Ahithophel, but not everyone agrees.

    Maybe it was Absalom. Absalom was King Davidís son. So, he was a *prince. "A man just *like me" in verse 13 may mean "a king or a *prince *like me". Again, not everyone agrees. The story of how Absalom tried to kill David and become king himself is in 2 Samuel chapters 15 to 19.

    Maybe we will never know! David had many friends whose names we do not know. Many Christians now think that one of these *betrayed David. They said that they were Davidís friends, but they helped Davidís enemies in a secret way.

What Psalm 55 means

Study the psalm in 3 parts:

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

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

    Verses 15 Ė 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. Davidís 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 Davidís 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, for what it 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 Godís 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?

Word list

betray ~ lead an enemy to someone.

cruel ~ not kind, hurting people.

dove ~ bird that people think shows *peace.

evil ~ very very bad people (or the things that they do).

hate ~ the opposite of love.

heart ~ part of our body; the Jews thought that you used your *heart to think; so to know it "in your heart" or "by heart" means that you remember it.

lies ~ words that are not true.

like ~ another word for "as".

LORD ~ a special name for God; only his people use it (look after Psalm 25).

lord ~ someone with authority (with a capital L a name for God, look after Psalm 25).

maskil ~ a psalm that teaches you something.

mercy ~ when you do not *punish (hurt) people that you should.

musical instruments ~ something that you make music with.

nation ~ a group of people (or a country) with a government.

oil ~ liquid from the fruit of the olive tree.

peace ~ when we are friends with God and with other people; no war.

pit ~ a hole in the ground (the *Pit was a hole in the corner of *Sheol where very bad people went after they died).

prayer ~ words that you say when you pray.

prince ~ son of a king.

psalmist ~ the person that wrote a psalm.

punish ~ hurt someone when they do something wrong(hit them with a stick or put them in prison).

righteous ~ very very good; only God is very righteous (or has righteousness); doing what is right.

righteousness ~ being very good.

SELAH ~ a word often used in the psalms; we do not know what it means, probably stop and think, or pray, or make music.

shake ~ move something one way then another quickly.

Sheol ~ where the Jews thought that dead people went.

soothing ~ taking away pain.

trust ~ (noun, or being something) believing that someone will help.

trust ~ (verb, or doing something) believe that someone will help.

unhappy ~ not happy.

wilderness ~ a wild place with not many farms.

wings ~ what a bird uses to fly with.


© 2000-2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words)

July 2001

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