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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 55:15

 

 

Let death come deceitfully upon them; Let them go down alive to Sheol, For evil is in their dwelling, in their midst.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Let death seize upon them - This is a prediction of the sudden destruction which should fall on the ringleaders in this rebellion. And it was so. Ahithophel, seeing his counsel rejected, hanged himself. Absalom was defeated; and, fleeing away, he was suspended by the hair in a tree, under which his mule had passed; and being found thus by Joab, he was despatched with three darts; and the people who espoused his interests were almost all cut off. They fell by the sword, or perished in the woods. See 2 Samuel 18:8.

Let then go down quick into hell - Let them go down alive into the pit. Let the earth swallow them up! And something of this kind actually took place. Absalom and his army were defeated; twenty thousand of the rebels were slain on the field; and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured, 2 Samuel 18:7, 2 Samuel 18:8. The words might be rendered, "Death shall exact upon them; they shall descend alive into sheol." And death did exact his debt upon them, as we have seen above.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-55.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Let death seize upon them - This would be more correctly rendered, “Desolations (are) upon them!” That is, Desolation, or destruction will certainly come upon them. There is in the original no necessary expression of a wish or prayer that this might be, but it is rather the language of certain assurance - the expression of a fact - that such base conduct - such wickedness - would make their destruction certain; that as God is just, they must be overwhelmed with ruin. Injury is sometimes done in the translation of the Scriptures by the insertion of a wish or prayer, where all that is necessarily implied in the original is the statement of a fact. This has been caused here by the somewhat uncertain meaning of the word which is used in the original. That phrase is ישׁימות yaśimâveth It occurs nowhere else. Our translators understood it (as the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and Luther do) as made up of two words. More correctly, however, it is to be regarded as one word, meaning “desolations,” or “destructions.” So Gesenius (Lexicon), Rosenmuller, and Prof. Alexander understand it.

And let them go down quick into hell - “Alive,” or “living,” for that is the meaning of the word “quick” here - חיים chayiym - as it commonly is in the Scriptures. Compare Leviticus 13:10; Numbers 16:30; Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 4:5. The word “hell” is rendered in the margin “the grave.” The original word is “sheol,” and means here either the grave, or the abode of departed spirits. See the notes at Isaiah 14:9; notes at Job 10:21-22. There is a harshness in the translation of the term here which is unnecessary, as the word “hell” with us now uniformly refers to the place of punishment for the wicked beyond death. The meaning here, however, is not that they would be consigned to wrath, but that they would be cut off from the land of the living. The idea is that their destruction might be as sudden as if the earth were to open, and they were to descend alive into the chasm. Probably there is an implied allusion here to the manner in which the company of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram was destroyed, Numbers 16:31-33. Compare Psalm 106:17.

For wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them - Wickedness abounds in all their transactions. It is in their houses, and in their hearts. This is mentioned as a reason why they should be cut off and consigned to the grave. It is the reason why people are cut down at all; it is often a fact that wicked people are most manifestly cut down for their sins. And because it will be better for the community that the wicked should be punished than that they should escape, so there is no evidence that David cherished malice or ill-will in his heart. See General Introduction, Section 6 (5).


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-55.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

THE PRAYER RESUMED

"Let death come suddenly upon them,

Let them go down alive into Sheol;

For wickedness is in their dwelling, in the midst of them."

The very first part of the resumed prayer petitions God to bring the enemies down into Sheol alive, to their "sudden death." One may well ignore all of the "too bad, too bad" comments on verses like this, which speak of personal vindictiveness and horrible private vengeance upon enemies.

David's situation here was exactly that of Moses the great lawgiver of Israel, whose leadership of Israel was challenged by Korah; here David's leadership of Israel was challenged by Absalom. In both instances, there was no middle ground; one only could be the Theocratic Leader; and like Moses of old, David pleaded with God to decide it by the death of the challengers, just as God decided in favor of Moses by the miraculous death of Korah and his group who were swallowed up alive by the earth itself (Numbers 16:30). As Kidner said, "`Let them go down alive into Sheol' is a clear echo of Numbers 16:30, where Moses had called for proof that the people who were resisting him were in fact rebels against God."[16] David was calling for exactly the same kind of decision here.

David was conscious that his earthly kingdom was a type of the Kingdom of Heaven, hence the utmost necessity of God's favorable answer of David's heart-felt prayer. His beloved son Absalom and his best friend Ahithophel were the challengers. Note the prayer for their sudden death was answered at once. Ahithophel committed suicide, and Joab thrust a dart through the heart of Absalom. Sad? Certainly! But the alternative would have frustrated forever the purpose of God in human redemption.


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/psalms-55.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Let death seize upon them,.... Ahithophel and his accomplices, Judas and the men with him; as a mighty man, as the king of terrors, and shake them to pieces. Or, "let him exact upon them"F1ישי "exigat debitum", Pagninus; "aget vel agat exactorem", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Gejerus, Amama. ; as a creditor upon the debtor, and demand the debt of punishment for sin: or let him come upon them at an unawares; let them not die a natural, but a violent death. The Targum mentions Doeg and Ahithophel;

and let them, go down quick into hell: as Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, went down quick or alive into the earth; so let these men die, and descend into the grave, in their full strength; and accordingly Absalom and Ahithophel died sudden and violent deaths, 2 Samuel 17:23; and so did Judas, Matthew 27:5; and the beast and false prophet, another part of the antitype, will be taken and cast alive into the lake of fire, Revelation 19:20;

for wickedness is in their dwellings; and dwells in them; wherever they go or sojourn, this goes and abides with them, being the reigning principle in their hearts and lives;

and among them; in the midst of them; their inward part is very wickedness. The Targum is, "in their bodies". But rather the sense is, in their hearts; wickedness was both in their houses and in their hearts, and is the reason of the imprecation on them; which arises not from a revengeful spirit, but from a zeal for the glory of God; and is to be considered as a prophecy of what would be, and not to be drawn into an example for private Christians to act by.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-55.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Let death seize upon them, [and] let them l go down quick into hell: for wickedness [is] in their dwellings, [and] among them.

(l) As Korah, Dathan and Abiram.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/psalms-55.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Let death, etc. — or, “Desolations are on them.”

let them go — literally, “they will go.”

quick — or, living in the midst of life, death will come (compare Numbers 16:33).

among them — or, “within them,” in their hearts (Psalm 5:9; Psalm 49:11).


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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/psalms-55.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.

Them — All such as pretend to religion, and have manifestly apostatized both from the profession and practice of it.

The grave — Cut off by a sudden and violent death.

Among them — Heb. in their inwards. Wickedness is deeply rooted in their hearts.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/psalms-55.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

15Let death seize upon them. He now denounces the whole faction, not the nation generally, but those who had taken a prominent part in the persecution of him. In imprecating this curse he was not influenced by any bad feeling towards them, and must be understood as speaking not in his own cause but in that of God, and under the immediate guidance of his Spirit. This was no wish uttered in a moment of resentment or of reckless and ill-considered zeal, and which would justify us in launching maledictions against our enemies upon every trivial provocation. The spirit of revenge differs widely from the holy and regulated fervor with which David prays for the judgment of God against wicked men, who had already been doomed to everlasting destruction. The translation, Let death condemn them, is forced, and so also is another which has been suggested, Let him appoint death a creditor over them. (310) That which we have given is the most obvious and simple. In praying that his enemies may descend alive into the grave, it has been well observed, that he seems to allude to the punishment of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; though I conceive that in imprecating sudden and unexpected ruin upon them, he adverts to the proud persuasion which they cherished in their prosperity, that they would escape the stroke of death. “Lord,” as if he had said, “in the infatuation of their pride they consider themselves to be exempted from the ordinary lot of mortality, but let the earth swallow them up alive — let nothing prevent their being dragged down with all their pomp to the destruction which they deserve.” The cause which he assigns for his prayer in the latter part of the verse, is another proof that he was not influenced by any personal resentment against his enemies, but simply denounced the just judgments of God upon such as persecuted the Church. Wickedness, he adds, is in their dwelling By this he meant that it could not but dwell where they dwelt and this he expresses still more fully when he adds, in the midst of them; intimating, that they inwardly cherished their wickedness, so that it was their inseparable companion, and dwelt with them under the same roof.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-55.html. 1840-57.

Scofield's Reference Notes

hell

Or, the grave.


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These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.

Bibliography
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Psalms 55:15". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/psalms-55.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 55:15 Let death seize upon them, [and] let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness [is] in their dwellings, [and] among them.

Ver. 15. Let death seize upon them] Irruat super illos mors, as a merciless landlord, as a cruel creditor, or as he in the Gospel, who took his fellow by the throat, and said, Pay that thou owest me. A sad time it must needs be with the wicked when death shall come upon them with a writ of Habeas corpus, and the devil with another of Habeas animam. Capiat illos mors, Thou shalt have the spirit. Let death seize them, so Aben Ezra rendereth it; Exigat mors in cos, so Kimchi, a נושׁח, Psalms 89:22. Here it is written, saith he, without an Aleph, {Hebrew Text Note} as it were, with a swift hand; and as if death and seize were all one word; to note the sudden stroke of death, and that it will soon despatch them. To which sense also some render it, Decipiat eos mors, Let death deceive them, be too nimble for them.

And let them go down quick into hell] As did Dathan and his complices, Numbers 16:31-33 {See Trapp on "Psalms 55:9"} According to this imprecation Ahithophel and Judas, hanging themselves, went to hell alive, that is, hale and well; not enfeebled by sickness first. Augustine saith that heretics do the like, falling with open eyes, and self-condemned.

For wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them] Heb. in their sojourning place (for here we are but guests and sojourners), and in the middle of them, that is, in their hearts and houses both, undique circumfluunt malitia et maleficiis, they are as naught as need to be.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-55.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 55:15. Let death seize upon them, &c.— Death shall exact the debt with usury; they shall descend alive into hades. This version is from Cocceius; and Dr. Chandler well remarks, that it preserves the propriety of the original verb, and greatly adds to the force of the expression. The verb is in the future tense, and therefore should not be rendered as an execration; for it only points out what would be the punishment of such perfidy and wickedness. This was verified by the event, as Achitophel hanged himself, and went down as it were alive into hades.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/psalms-55.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Them, i.e. him and all such false-hearted wretches, that pretended religion with wicked design, and now have manifestly apostatized, both from the profession and practice of it, and fallen into all manner of wickedness; for such are the vilest of men, and most obnoxious to the curse of God.

Into hell; or, into the grave; cut them off by a sudden and violent death, as thou didst those Numbers 16:32. But these imprecations used by inspired persons in extraordinary cases is no precedent for our imitation.

Their dwellings; or, where they sojourn. They carry their wickedness along with them from place to place, and leave the impressions and effects of it wheresoever they come.

Among them, Heb. in their inwards. Wickedness is deeply rooted in their hearts, and it breaks forth in all their houses and actions.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/psalms-55.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

He Prays That God Will Deal With His Treacherous Friend, Along With His Associates, By Death (Psalms 55:15).

He prays for sudden death to come on these men. The fact that David prayed like this indicates that the man’s betrayal had been so serious that it had endangered his life. He had been so treacherous that he had sought David’s death whilst David still trusted him as a friend. And thus David prays that God will cause the behaviour of his treacherous friend and of his friend’s associates, to rebound on them. He is basically praying that, in the same way as they have tried to sow death for him, they themselves will reap death. Let them receive what they deserve.

Psalms 55:15

‘Let death come suddenly on them,

Let them go down alive into Sheol,

For wickedness is in their dwelling,

In the midst of them.’

He prays that just as these men have sought his life, death may come suddenly on them. The violence of his expression confirms that he saw what they had done as unforgivable. He sees them as having been acting vindictively. So he prays that they may go down alive into the grave world, Sheol.

The prayer that they might go down alive into Sheol, the grave world, possibly has in mind the fate of Korah and his company in Numbers 16:30-33. They too had been treacherous, and had acted against God’s chosen ones (the Aaronide priests), and they were described as being swallowed up alive by the ground and as going down into the Pit. This confirms that David saw these men, led by his one time friend, as treacherous in the extreme, and therefore deserving of the worst of fates. It is quite possible that not many had been willing to act against a respected commander like David, and that Saul had therefore had to seek out such as would betray him. And all this is confirmed by his reference to wickedness as something that was in their dwelling, and even in their inmost hearts. He saw them as enveloped in wickedness. Their behaviour had appalled him, and cut him to the heart.


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Bibliography
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/psalms-55.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15. Again the subdued and tender strain of the muse is suddenly broken by one of the harshest imprecations in the Book of Psalms. The style is exceedingly impassioned.

Let death seize upon them—The word “death” is needlessly harsh. The Hebrew is simply, Destructions upon them! The idea is, desolation, not death; and it may be understood of his public fame and his plans.

Let them go downs quick into hell—Literally, they shall descend alive into the grave, or region of the dead. Proverbs 1:12. Sheol is not to be understood here of the place of future punishment, but of the grave, underworld, region of the dead. The Saxon hell is modernly restricted to signify the place of future punishment, and is not now, as formerly, an adequate translation of sheol. The description is based on Numbers 16:30, where sheol is rendered pit, and they go down quick into the pit.” David’s conspirators had all forfeited their lives for the highest crime against the State, and the judgment is only suited to their desert, and to the exigency of the kingdom. But see on Psalms 109


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/psalms-55.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

David called down God"s judgment on his former friend and his ungodly allies. By opposing David, this traitor was also opposing God since David was the Lord"s anointed. As he had deceived David by his treachery, so God should deceive him by putting him to death. Going down alive to the grave pictures a violent rather than a peaceful death (cf. Numbers 16:31-40).


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/psalms-55.html. 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 55:15. Let death seize upon them — Hebrew, ישׁי מות עלימו, jashi maveth gnaleemo, which Cocceius renders, death will exact the debt with usury, a version which, as Dr. Chandler well remarks, preserves the propriety of the original verb, and greatly adds to the force of the expression. The verb is in the future tense, and therefore should not be rendered as an execration; for it only points out what would be the punishment of such perfidy and wickedness. And let them go down, &c. — Hebrew, ירדו שׁאול חיים, jeeredu sheol chiim, they shall descend alive into hades, or into the grave, for the word, as has been observed before, may mean either. Thou wilt cut off, by a sudden and violent death, him, and all such false-hearted and hypocritical wretches, that pretend to religion with a wicked design, and now have manifestly apostatized both from the profession and practice of it. This was awfully verified by the event, as Ahithophel hanged himself, and went down, as it were, alive into hades. Wickedness is in their dwelling — במגורם, bimguram, in the place where they sojourn. They carry their wickedness along with them from place to place, and leave the impressions and effects of it wheresoever they come. And among them — Hebrew, בקרבם, bekirbam, in their inwards. Wickedness is deeply rooted in their hearts, and it breaks forth in all their houses and actions.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-55.html. 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

quick = alive. Compare Numbers 16:30-33.

hell. Hebrew. Sheol. App-35. wickedness. Hebrew. raa (plural)


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-55.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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 So the Qeri' reads-literally, 'Let death deceive upon them,' - i:e., take them by surprise [ yashiy (Hebrew #5377) maawet (Hebrew #4194), from naasha' (Hebrew #5377), to deceive]. But the phrase, 'deceive upon' [ `al (Hebrew #5921)] is without example; and this reading has arisen from a desire to make the parallelism between the first and second clauses more exact. Read, therefore, as the Kethibh or Hebrew text, '(Let) desolations [y


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-55.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(15) Let death.—According to the written text we should render desolations upon them. Here we have another sudden outburst of overmastering feeling.

Quick—i.e., alive, perhaps with reminiscence of the fate of Korah. (Comp. Proverbs 1:12.)

Hell.—Sheôl. (See Note Psalms 6:5.)

And among them.—The conjunction is unnecessary. Render, in their dwellings, in their very midst.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-55.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.
Let death, etc
Or, rather, "Death shall seize on them; they shall descend quickly into the grave;" which is a prediction of the sudden destruction which befell the ringleaders of this unnatural rebellion.
59:13; 69:22-28; 109:6-20; 2 Samuel 17:23; 18:9,14; Matthew 27:5; Acts 1:18-20
them
Numbers 16:30-34; Matthew 26:24; Acts 1:25
hell
or, the grave.
9:17

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 55:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-55.html.

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