Thursday, May 12, 2022

Betrayed by a Friend (Psalm 55)

"For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it.… But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance" (Psalm 55:12–13).

Throughout the Psalms David recounts a variety of trials he faced at the hands of his enemies. He frequently endured attacks not only from his own countrymen, but from outsiders as well.

In Psalm 55, however, we find David struggling with a very different trial. While he was constantly aware of the strategies and schemes of his known enemies, in this psalm he is betrayed not by a Philistine or a fellow Israelite who has always stood against him, but by a friend. We have no insight into who this friend might have been, but we know that the tragic situation affected David very deeply. It is one thing to endure the treachery of a known enemy, but it is quite another to handle a friend’s betrayal. David said his heart was severely pained within him; no doubt, this betrayal only compounded the sufferings David faced at the hands of his enemies.

“Against a known foe we are on our watch, but the unsuspected stroke of a friend takes us by surprise,” Calvin wrote. “We are taught by the experience of David, as here represented to us, that we must expect in this world to meet with the secret treachery of friends, as well as with undisguised persecution. Satan has assaulted the church with sword and open war, but he has also raised up domestic enemies to injure it with the more secret weapons of stratagem and fraud.”

While we may expect persecution not only from enemies but friends, like David, our hearts are torn apart when it happens. Yet, we should not let this grip us with despair but should call on God as David did. The Lord is in control of even a friend’s betrayal. David did not dwell long on his circumstance, but he brought his pain before the throne of God and basked in the peace that overflows from a loving father. He was honest with God about the anguish of his heart, but he trusted in God’s providence and turned to Him for relief. If each of us would immediately go to the Lord and cast our cares on Him, especially in such fearful and difficult times as David faced, we would discover the peace that passes all understanding and find the strength to deal not only with the persecution of an enemy but the treachery of a friend.

Read Matthew 10:21 and 24:10. Can you expect betrayal? What should your response be when it happens? How do you fight the grip of bitterness and despair? What should your response be to the friend who has betrayed you? Think about how Christ can identify with you when you are betrayed.