Refuge in the Locked-Down City: Psalm 55


Psalm 55

 

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David.

1 Give ear to my prayer, O God,
    and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
2 Attend to me, and answer me;
    I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
3 because of the noise of the enemy,
    because of the oppression of the wicked.
For they drop trouble upon me,
    and in anger they bear a grudge against me.


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4 My heart is in anguish within me;
    the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
5 Fear and trembling come upon me,
    and horror overwhelms me.
6 And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
    I would fly away and be at rest;
7 yes, I would wander far away;
    I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah
8 I would hurry to find a shelter
    from the raging wind and tempest.”

9 Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues;
    for I see violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they go around it
    on its walls,
and iniquity and trouble are within it;
11     ruin is in its midst;
oppression and fraud
    do not depart from its marketplace.

12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
    then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
    then I could hide from him.

13 But it is you, a man, my equal,
    my companion, my familiar friend.
14 We used to take sweet counsel together;
    within God’s house we walked in the throng.
15 Let death steal over them;
    let them go down to Sheol alive;
    for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.

16 But I call to God,
    and the Lord will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon
    I utter my complaint and moan,
    and he hears my voice.
18 He redeems my soul in safety
    from the battle that I wage,
    for many are arrayed against me.
19 God will give ear and humble them,
    he who is enthroned from of old, Selah
because they do not change
    and do not fear God.

20 My companion[b] stretched out his hand against his friends;
    he violated his covenant.
21 His speech was smooth as butter,
    yet war was in his heart;
his words were softer than oil,
    yet they were drawn swords.

22 Cast your burden on the Lord,
    and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
    the righteous to be moved.

23 But you, O God, will cast them down
    into the pit of destruction;
men of blood and treachery
    shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.

  

A Desperate Situation

Psalm 55 is a psalm of lamentation. From David’s prayer, we come to deeply appreciate the pain he experienced in body, mind, and spirit. He speaks frankly of his heartache, fear, and sorrow, as well as of the panic that overwhelmed him like a flood. He was in a desperate situation, and did not have a moment’s rest. Suffering was poured out on him like a violent storm. (vv. 1-8)

What caused David such pain?

>
“The locked-down city is full of lies, sins, oppression, and violence. Where is my refuge? How can I rest in peace? Where is the salvation of my countrymen, of my country?

In verses 9-10 and 20-21, David says he was betrayed by his confidants, former friends who broke covenant with him and abused, hated, and pursued him. Their mouths were deceitful. Although their lips were full of good words, their hearts were filled with evil, murderous thoughts. (vv. 9, 21) Because of the wickedness of his enemies, David’s nation was in deep distress. His city was full of violence, rivalry, sin, oppression, and deceit. This psalm was most likely written when David was fleeing from his son, Absalom. (2 Samuel 15-17)

Have you too been betrayed by close friends and chased into desperate situations? Since the lockdown of Shanghai on March 28, cities of all sizes have experienced different degrees of total lockdown. The number of “extra deaths” continues to rise, and my heart has been swallowed with pain.

It is not the virus that “locks” us at home; it is not the virus that “controls” our freedom to go out or come in; it is not the virus only that takes human lives. If it was the virus, it could be tolerated; but it is my government, Chinese people like me, of the same ethnicity as me. It is my compatriots who cover the mouths of shouters, block the roads of those who need urgent care, and ignore the hunger and destitution of the weak. The locked-down city is full of lies, sins, oppression, and violence. Where is my refuge? How can I rest in peace? Where is the salvation of my countrymen, of my country?

Christ, Abandoned for Me

In the midst of the psalmist’s lamentation and terror, God led David, like a dove, to fly to the wilderness. By his Spirit, he also took me far away and lodged me in the wilderness. There I met the God who comforted and saved me.

“But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, because they do not change and do not fear God.” (vv. 16-19)

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“Because of his hunger, I became full; because of his poverty, I became rich; and with his wounds I am healed. Because of his crucifixion, I became free; because of his resurrection, I have eternal life.

Look up to the God of my salvation—I have betrayed him, for I have not lived up to the image and likeness of God as he made me, and I have sinned and fallen short of his glory! Yet the Lord Jesus did not abandon me as sinners deserve. Instead, he became the betrayed one for me, abandoned by close friends.

“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” (John 1:11)

“But Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?’” (Luke 22:48)

“And they all left him and fled.” (Mark 14:50)

Because of his hunger, I became full; because of his poverty, I became rich; and with his wounds I am healed. Because of his crucifixion, I became free; because of his resurrection, I have eternal life. 

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” (v. 22)

Lily llives in a city in northeastern China. She enjoys hiking, and has two children.

 

PRAYER

O God,

I implore you to give desperate Chinese people the hope that comes from you. I ask you to open not only our locked doors, but our hearts, which have long been sealed by lies and sin, that we may find true freedom in your salvation. Fill not just our bellies, but our souls; fill not only our empty refrigerators, but also fill our empty hearts with your love and truth.

“But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you.” (v. 23)

Give us, O God, a heart to trust in you. Raise up your church to go into the midst of neighbors who do not know you in the darkness of the shadow of death. May they go with your love and compassion for the Chinese, that your light may shine on them and set them free in the truth. May we not look after our own affairs because we live alone in this difficult generation. Instead, may we rely on you and be willing to look after the affairs of others, in order that they may receive eternal life in the risen Lord Jesus. Our life is hidden in you, and in you we rest.

   


We are using the Psalms to guide our prayers for China

In 2022, our prayer movement is turning to the scriptural prayers found in the Psalms as we pray for the Chinese church. When you join our prayer movement, you will receive weekly prayer emails and a monthly newsletter so that you too can pray for our brothers and sisters in China.

  

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