Question:

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

Does this mean we should wish death for people who aren’t saved? A friend sent this to me along with some statistics about 50% of transgender people committing suicide. He was very happy about this statistic and said he wanted them all to commit suicide, citing this verse as to why.

Answer:

When someone makes a claim that doesn't sound right, the first step is to read the cited verse in its context to see if it was used correctly. What kind of person was David referring to?

"Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the pressure of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me and in anger they bear a grudge against me. My heart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me" (Psalms 55:3-5).

"Confuse, O Lord, divide their tongues, for I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go around her upon her walls, and iniquity and mischief are in her midst. Destruction is in her midst; oppression and deceit do not depart from her streets. For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it; nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend; we who had sweet fellowship together walked in the house of God in the throng. Let death come deceitfully upon them; let them go down alive to Sheol, for evil is in their dwelling, in their midst" (Psalms 55:9-15).

"With whom there is no change, and who do not fear God. He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him; he has violated his covenant. His speech was smoother than butter, but his heart was war; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords. Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. But You, O God, will bring them down to the pit of destruction; men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days. But I will trust in You" (Psalms 55:19-23).

I selected the passages from this psalm that describe the type of people David had in mind: violent men who create mischief by speaking sweetly while causing destruction. These are people who pretend to be good people while backstabbing those they are lying to.

The phrase "let them go alive to Sheol" is a reference to Korah, who led a rebellion against Moses. Despite repeated warnings to give up the rebellion, Korah and his followers insisted that they had a right to lead Israel.

"Moses said, 'By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing. If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer the fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the LORD.' As he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly" (Numbers 16:28-33).

Most scholars see Psalms 55 as being penned after David's own son, Absalom, overthrew David's government. Absalom gained followers by telling people who were ruled against in David's court that if he were the king that he would have ruled in their favor (II Samuel 15:2-6). He then arranged a trip with 200 noblemen to Hebron (who did not know what was going on) and had followers announce all through Israel that Absalom had become king in Hebron. The noblemen were to make it look like he had a large number of supporters in high places. Absalom also got David's personal counselor to join him. It is probably Ahithophel that David was referring to so bitterly in Psalms 55:12-14.

Psalms 55:15 can be seen as a prophecy about what would happen to these rebels, more than a personal desire of David's. We must note that only God could accomplish a sudden overthrow of the wicked in this manner. David is announcing his support of what God will do to the wicked, even those who were once close friends of his. I'm sure from other passages that David would much rather have these people give up their sins, but given that they won't ("for evil is in their dwelling, in their midst"), justice must prevail.

What does this mean for us? When someone is totally given over to evil, it is not wrong to tell the world that God will see to it that justice is delivered to the wicked and that their end will come suddenly. Evil cannot be allowed to continue because more innocent people will die at the hands of the evildoers. Even while we wish that it could turn out differently, especially when the evildoers are people we once loved, we still stand with the Almighty God.

Therefore, does Psalms 55 have to anything to do with the suicide rate of transgender people? Absolutely not! God doesn't cause evil (James 1:13) and suicide is a sin; therefore, God is not causing the suicides. Transgenderism is a sin, but it is not the type of sin being considered in Psalms 55. Perhaps closer is when a mass-murderer dies in a gun battle with the police. Then we can say that justice was served and that all who commit acts of violence and treachery against their fellow human beings will see similar ends at the hand of our God.

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