The Sadness of Betrayal

We have all been there—shocked, dismayed, and in utter disbelief when a close companion makes a sharp turn away from that friendship to cause hurt, harm, and heartache. A closeness once assumed unbreakable crumbles at the speed of sound with angry words and heated argument. Friendships forged in common cause often pass as quickly as a Hollywood romance once the immediate purpose is fulfilled. Moreover, today, the rapid exposure of opinions on Facebook or Twitter can quickly alienate former allies. And so circumstances expose the shallowness of relationships once thought forged in iron.

Nowhere does this problem bring such sorrow as when God’s people part ways due to the failure of faith. It hurts more than words can describe to see a brother in Christ you love dearly turn against the truth, against the church, and against the Savior to follow the deceptions of Satan. But when that brother, from bitterness of soul, spews his anger and hate toward the bride of Christ in active betrayal, working for the enemy in direct opposition to all previous devotion, it causes even greater pain. Paul warned that Satan often deploys forces deep within the ranks of God’s people (Acts 20:29-30), posing as the faithful to the undermine the faith (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Nevertheless, to witness a friend turn into a foe hurts deeply.

David understood this situation and its sorrow. He saw Saul praise him as a hero and then hunt him as a villain. When tired and hungry, he endured people pointing the pursuit his direction. He saw his sons defy him to try to take his throne. And he experienced a trusted advisor desert him to offer counsel to destroy him. Therefore, when David reflected on the hurt of betrayal in Psalm 55, he did not have to consult others for perspective. He knew the disbelieving sorrow (Psa. 55:1-3), the pain (Psa. 55:4), and the fear (Psa. 55:5) that problems bring. He understood the temptation to run (Psa. 55:6-8) and anger at the violence of sin (Psa. 55:9-11). But  the source of the problem—a former friend—hit with a force beyond the issues themselves ordinarily would have created. “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 from him. But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng” (Psa. 55:12-14). The shock of such a reversal pierces the soul, but trust in the LORD ever remains the response (Psa. 55:15-19).

There will always be people who make themselves your enemies, breaking covenant with you and with God (Psa. 55:20). There will always be people who say all the right things to you and about you while internally plotting against you (Psa. 55:21). However, rather than becoming bitter and embroiled in controversy, rather than allowing an emotional betrayal to become your focus, cast your burden on the LORD and trust in Him (Psa. 55:22-23), because—no matter what anyone else might do—He will never fail you.

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