Psalm 55:7
Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.
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(7) Remain.—Better, lodge.

55:1-8 In these verses we have, 1. David praying. Prayer is a salve for every sore, and a relief to the spirit under every burden. 2. David weeping. Griefs are thus, in some measure, lessened, while those increase that have no vent given them. David in great alarm. We may well suppose him to be so, upon the breaking out of Absalom's conspiracy, and the falling away of the people. Horror overwhelmed him. Probably the remembrance of his sin in the matter of Uriah added much to the terror. When under a guilty conscience we must mourn in our complaint, and even strong believers have for a time been filled with horror. But none ever was so overwhelmed as the holy Jesus, when it pleased the Lord to put him to grief, and to make his soul an offering for our sins. In his agony he prayed more earnestly, and was heard and delivered; trusting in him, and following him, we shall be supported under, and carried through all trials. See how David was weary of the treachery and ingratitude of men, and the cares and disappointments of his high station: he longed to hide himself in some desert from the fury and fickleness of his people. He aimed not at victory, but rest; a barren wilderness, so that he might be quiet. The wisest and best of men most earnestly covet peace and quietness, and the more when vexed and wearied with noise and clamour. This makes death desirable to a child of God, that it is a final escape from all the storms and tempests of this world, to perfect and everlasting rest.Lo, then would I wander far off - literally, "Lo, I would make the distance far by wandering;" I would separate myself far from these troubles.

And remain in the wilderness - literally, I would sojourn; or, I would pass the night; or, I would put up for the night. The idea is taken from a traveler who puts up for the night, or who rests for a night in his weary travels, and seeks repose. Compare Genesis 19:2; Genesis 32:21; 2 Samuel 12:16; Judges 19:13. The word "wilderness" means, in the Scripture, a place not inhabited by man; a place where wild beasts resort; a place uncultivated. It does not denote, as with us, an extensive forest. It might be a place of rocks and sands, but the essential idea is, that it was not inhabited. See the notes at Matthew 4:1. In such a place, remote from the habitations of people, he felt that he might be at rest.

7, 8. Even a wilderness is a safer place than exposure to such evils, terrible as storm and tempest. Like a dove; which being fearful, and pursued by birds of prey, flies away, and that very swiftly and far, and into solitary places, where it hides and secures itself in the holes of the rocks, or in some other secret and safe place; all which fitly represents David’s present disposition and desire. And be at rest; or, that I might, or where I might, be at rest, or dwell, in some settled and safe place, and be delivered from those uncertainties and wanderings to which I am now exposed.

In the wilderness; where I might be free from the company, and rage, and treachery of my wicked enemies, who are worse than the wild beasts of the wilderness.

Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness,.... So David did when he fled from Absalom, 2 Samuel 15:23; so gracious souls desire to be; not in the wilderness of the people; but to be solitary as in a wilderness, clear of the company of wicked men, as Jeremiah wished for, Jeremiah 9:2; and that they might be more at leisure for and given up unto spiritual devotion, and be secure from their enemies: and as this may be applied to Christ, it shows the wickedness, cruelty, and barbarity of the men of that generation among whom he lived; that he chose rather to be in the wilderness, among wild beasts, than to dwell among them, Matthew 17:17; some apply this to the state of the primitive church under Jewish persecution, when it fled from Judea, and settled in the wilderness of the Gentiles; the preachers of the word being scattered abroad by the windy storm and tempest of persecution, and the Gospel taken from the Jews, and carried to a nation bringing forth the fruit of it, where it has remained ever since. With this may be compared the state of the church under Rome Pagan, in Revelation 12:6.

Selah; on this word; see Gill on Psalm 3:2.

Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.
7. and remain &c.] R.V., I would lodge in the wilderness. Selah seems to be misplaced here, and also in Psalm 55:19.

Verse 7. - Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness; rather, and lodge in the wilderness. Doves, ring-doves, and others, are abundant in Palestine, and frequent wild and rocky places, far from the haunts of man. Speaking of a rocky gorge near the Lake of Gennesaret, Canon Tristram says, "But no description can give an adequate idea of the myriads of rock-pigeons. In absolute crowds they dashed to and fro in the ravine, whirling round with a rush and a whirr that could be felt like a gust of wind" ('Land of Israel,' p. 446). Psalm 55:7In this first group sorrow prevails. David spreads forth his deep grief before God, and desires for himself some lonely spot in the wilderness far away from the home or lurking-place of the confederate band of those who are compassing his overthrow. "Veil not Thyself" here, where what is spoken of is something audible, not visible, is equivalent to "veil not Thine ear," Lamentations 3:56, which He designedly does, when the right state of heart leaves the praying one, and consequently that which makes it acceptable and capable of being answered is wanting to the prayer (cf. Isaiah 1:15). שׂיח signifies a shrub (Syriac shucho, Arabic šı̂ḥ), and also reflection and care (Arabic, carefulness, attention; Aramaic, סח, to babble, talk, discourse). The Hiph. חריד, which in Genesis 27:40 signifies to lead a roving life, has in this instance the signification to move one's self backwards and forwards, to be inwardly uneasy; root רד, Arab. rd, to totter, whence râda, jarûda, to run up and down (IV to desire, will); raida, to shake (said of a soft bloated body); radda, to turn (whence taraddud, a moving to and fro, doubting); therefore: I wander hither and thither in my reflecting or meditating, turning restlessly from one thought to another. It is not necessary to read ואחמיה after Psalm 77:4 instead of ועהימה, since the verb הוּם equals המה, Psalm 42:6, 12, is secured by the derivatives. Since these only exhibit הוּם, and not הים (in Arabic used more particularly of the raving of love), ואהימה, as also אריד, is Hiph., and in fact like this latter used with an inward object: I am obliged to raise a tumult or groan, break out into the dull murmuring sounds of pain. The cohortative not unfrequently signifies "I have to" or "I must" of incitements within one's self which are under the control of outward circumstances. In this restless state of mind he finds himself, and he is obliged to break forth into this cry of pain on account of the voice of the foe which he cannot but hear; by reason of the pressure or constraint (עקת) of the evil-doer which he is compelled to feel. The conjecture צעקת (Olshausen and Hupfeld) is superfluous. עקה is a more elegant Aramaizing word instead of צרה.

The second strophe begins with a more precise statement of that which justifies his pain. The Hiph. חמיט signifies here, as in Psalm 140:11 (Chethb), declinare: they cast or roll down evil (calamity) upon him and maliciously lay snares for him בּאף, breathing anger against him who is conscious of having manifested only love towards them. His heart turns about in his body, it writhes (יהיל); cf. on this, Psalm 38:11. Fear and trembling take possession of his inward parts; יבא in the expression יבא בי, as is always the case when followed by a tone syllable, is a so-called נסוג אחור, i.e., it has the tone that has retreated to the penult. (Deuteronomy 1:38; Isaiah 7:24; Isaiah 60:20), although this is only with difficulty discernible in our printed copies, and is therefore (vid., Accentsystem, vi. 2) noted with Mercha. The fut. consec. which follows introduces the heightened state of terror which proceeds from this crowding on of fear and trembling. Moreover, the wish that is thereby urged from him, which David uttered to himself, is introduced in the third strophe by a fut. consec.

(Note: That beautiful old song of the church concerning Jesus has grown out of this strophe: -

Ecquis binas columbinas

Alas dabit animae?

Et in almam crucis palmam

Evolat citissime, etc.)

"Who will give me?" is equivalent to "Oh that I had!" Ges. 136, 1. In ואשׁכּנה is involved the self-satisfying signification of settling down (Ezekiel 31:13), of coming to rest and remaining in a place (2 Samuel 7:10). Without going out of our way, a sense perfectly in accordance with the matter in hand may be obtained for אחישׁה מפלט לי, if אחישׁה is taken not as Kal (Psalm 71:12), but after Isaiah 5:19; Isaiah 60:12, as Hiph.: I would hasten, i.e., quickly find for myself a place which might serve me as a shelter from the raging wind, from the storm. רוּח סעה is equivalent to the Arabic rihin sâijat-in, inasmuch as Arab. s‛â, "to move one's self quickly, to go or run swiftly," can be said both of light (Koran, 66:8) and of water-brooks (vid., Jones, Comm. Poes. Asiat., ed. Lipsiae, p. 358), and also of strong currents of air, of winds, and such like. The correction סערה, proposed by Hupfeld, produces a disfiguring tautology. Among those about David there is a wild movement going on which is specially aimed at his overthrow. From this he would gladly flee and hide himself, like a dove taking refuge in a cleft of the rock from the approaching storm, or from the talons of the bird of prey, fleeing with its noiseless but persevering flight.

(Note: Kimchi observes that the dove, when she becomes tired, draws in one wing and flies with the other, and thus the more surely escapes. Aben-Ezra finds an allusion here to the carrier-pigeon.)

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