*Betraying a Friend
An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 55
Words in boxes are from the Bible.
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".)
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.
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.
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?
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)
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