Have you ever been betrayed or angered by someone close to you? It seems like “getting offended” can happen really frequently these days. But have you ever really experienced deep betrayal from a loved one? What do you do? What is your first reaction? Is it possible to move from hatred to reconciliation?
Let me encourage you: the Bible gives some real practical teaching on this!
I recently heard a fantastic message from Dr. Crawford Loritts where he walked through Psalm 55, showing the real feelings that King David was experiencing and how he dealt with such devastation and betrayal. It struck me that this message provided such a clear call-to-action for believers in a time when it has become culturally acceptable (yes, even in Christian culture) to live with an “eye-for-an-eye” mentality. If we want to change our outcomes, we must change our actions.
So, what does Psalm 55 have to say about betrayal? Let’s unpack it.
You should pause right now and go read that passage of scripture to get the most from this article.
Let me point something out: I often want to find the hidden knowledge “gems” from scripture without doing the work. For instance, in reading an article like this I’d often scroll and just read the “3 things” to get the gold. But God’s word and God’s plan are far too rich and deep to just harvest the catchphrases and expect him to honor our steps. God is more concerned with our relationship with him than our “success” in this life. Another way of saying it: the point of God’s word is not to make us smarter. The point of God’s word is to reveal his plan for humankind, allowing us to have a real relationship with our creator. If we are given such a magnificent gift, shouldn’t we cherish it more than just reading the “Cliff notes?” Let’s get better at falling in love with the fullness of God’s word.
Now, if you’ve read the 2 Samuel passage, you’ll know that David was in real trouble here. Absalom, David’s trusted key partner, had worked for many years to betray him and now was the time of his attack on the King. And what will King David’s response be? Everything is falling apart around him and God feels very far away. Can you imagine that feeling when someone close to you betrays you? Many of us have felt this firsthand. What should our reaction be?
“God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change— he will hear them and humble them, because they have no fear of God.” Psalm 55:19
Here is what King David knows: he has lived a long life and he knows that when God is near, nothing can stand in his way. His first cry to the Lord is for a closeness. Here is how David says it, “hide not yourself from my plea. (Psalm 55:1)"
David is facing extreme frustration that these events are happening to him. He has already been through so much in his life - extreme highs and extreme lows. Why is God allowing another season of trial? You can see how depressed King David gets in Psalm 55:6-8. He actually wishes to be like a bird who can just fly away and shed all his responsibilities, authority, stress, fear, anguish, etc. How many of us have wished at some point that we could just flee all this stress in our lives? We’d give everything up in those moments to “run for the hills” and escape the impending doom.
But watch what happens next: David hits an even lower point in his journey. He wishes a dark path for his enemies. In Psalm 55:15 he asks God to kill his enemies in an act of retribution. Here is what David wishes for: “let death steal over them; let them go down to alive to the realm of the dead; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart. (Psalm 55:15)”
When betrayal comes towards us, do we find our resting place in frustration, isolation, hurt/pain, or even retribution?
God’s plan is so much bigger.
“As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me.” Psalm 55:16
Read Psalm 55:15. Then read Psalm 55:16. David shifts from saying, “Lord, kill my enemy in the most aggressive way possible,” to saying, “Lord, you will save me. Lord, you will redeem me. Lord, you will sustain me.” Wow! What a moment to reflect in reference to our daily struggles.
One of David’s closet friends has spent years plotting a hostile takeover. David’s initial reaction is fear, hurt, depression, and anger. But he shifts his focus to the Lord.
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you” Psalm 55:22
Our resting place is so much bigger than the feelings we experience in this life. As real as David’s anxiety, anguish, and anger were, he found a way to communicate to the Lord that he trusted the plan. King David’s shift in thought is so radical that many debate if they might not be from the same writings! But I have come to believe that David’s shift comes with his understanding of this: if we want to change our outcomes, we must change our actions.
God has huge plans for you. Your best days are ahead if you are walking towards God. The pain of betrayal is real - especially when it comes from someone close to you. But, don’t let this temporary feeling rob you of an eternal joy that God is in complete control, God has saved you, and God will sustain you forever.
You can hear Dr. Crawford Loritts’ message on Psalm 55 here.
This article originally appeared on Thinke.org. Reprinted with permission.
Photo Credit: ©Thinkstock/RossHelen