(16) As for me, I will call to God, and Yahweh will deliver me. (17) Evening and morning and at noon I complain and groan, and he hears my voice. (18) He has redeemed my soul in safety from the battle that I waged, for there were many arrayed against me. (19) God will hear and humble them, even he who is enthroned from of old, (Selah) because they do not change and do not fear God. (20) He stretched out his hand against those who were at peace with him and violated his covenant. (21) His speech was smoother than butter, but war (was) in his heart. His words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords. (22) Cast your burden on Yahweh, and he will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. (23) But you, God, will bring them down into the pit of corruption. Bloody and deceitful men will not live out half their days, but I will trust in you.
The only repeated words in this segment are the two most familiar names in the Old Testament for God: “Yahweh” (vss. 16 & 22) and “God (Elohim)” (once in vs. 16, twice in vs. 19, and again in vs. 23). Note also the four shifts in focus found in this segment. The psalmist first describes himself as calling on God to deliver him (vss. 16-18). Then he looks to God who hears and answers the prayers of the righteous (vs. 19). Next, it is the psalmist’s enemies who are in view (vss. 20 & 21). David finally concludes the psalm by describing how God responds positively to the righteous (vs. 22) and negatively to the ungodly (vs. 23).
The same message is given twice for emphasis in these verses: first, in an extended form (vss. 16-21), and then in summary fashion (vss. 22 & 23). When those who belong to God call on him, they can be assured that he will hear and answer their prayer for protection and deliverance from those who deceitfully seek their destruction.
I. Message given at length (16-21)
- to the godly: God will hear and deliver (16-18)
- to the ungodly: God will humble. (19-21)
II. Message summarized (22 & 23)
- to the godly: Yahweh will sustain. (22)
- to the ungodly: God will bring down. (23)
God’s promise of deliverance sustains those who call upon him when they are threatened by those who seek their destruction.
To encourage believers to trust God in times of testing Peter wrote the following words: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). This exhortation so closely resembles Psalm 55:22 that we may well be right to assume that Peter had David’s promise in mind when he penned that particular verse.
The operative word in both verses is the verb, “cast” or “fling” or “toss.” The same Greek word is also found in Luke’s Gospel in the description of the Triumphal Entry: “They brought (the colt) to Jesus, threw their cloaks on (it) and put Jesus on it” (Lk. 19:35). In other words, we are to release our burdens completely so they can fall on someone else, namely on the Lord himself. It is as if an exchange takes place. He willingly bears the weight of our burdens and gives us his sustaining grace in their place.
All too frequently in prayer we surrender our burdens to God and then reclaim them by still worrying and fretting about them. If that be the case, it is doubtful that we have “cast all our anxiety on him.” We heed Peter’s exhortation only when we have completely released our cares by placing them on his shoulders and leaving them there. At that point, we are in a position to receive what Jesus freely offered to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (Jn. 14:27).