Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Psalms 54-56

The kiss of betrayal is a bitter experience for any who place their trust in others.  Betrayal thrusts its point deep into the soul and, contrary to the adage, “Time heals all wounds”, leaves its victims feeling hurt, vulnerable, and often bitter.  I find in Psalm 54 four different responses that victims of betrayal entertain:  Fear (55:1-5), Flight (55:6-8), Funk or frustration (55:12-14), and Faith (55:16-18, 22).

Author Warren Wiersbe writes concerning Psalm 55:  “It’s likely this psalm was written early in Absalom’s rebellion (2 Sam. 15-17), when David was still in Jerusalem (vv. 9-11) and the revolt was gathering momentum. If so, then the “friend” of verses 12-14 and 20-21 had to be David’s counselor Ahithophel who had sided with Absalom.”

Given the content of Psalm 55, I side with Wiersbe, believing the rush of emotions and contemplations David was feeling are those of a broken man whose son has stolen the affections of his people and his closest advisor, Ahithophel, is confederate with Absolam in the rebellion (2 Samuel 15:31).

David’s first response to betrayal was Fear and the broodings that accompany that emotion (55:4-5). David writes:

Psalm 55:4-5 – “My heart [mind; thoughts] is sore pained [troubled; tremble] within me: and the terrors [fear] of death are fallen upon me. 5  Fearfulness [terror] and trembling [shaking] are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.”

Flight is the second response David contemplated as he came to terms with betrayal (55:6-8).  If he could, David would have retreated and found a hiding place far from his troubles.

Psalm 55:6-8 – And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away [flee], and be at rest [i.e. find shelter]. 7  Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah. 8  I would hasten [hurry] my escape from the windy storm and tempest.”

Funk or frustration is the third reaction I recognize in David’s response to betrayal (55:12-14, 20-21).  Other words that describe the king’s emotional state are despair, disbelief, and dismay.  David writes:

Psalm 55:12-14 – “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: 13  But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. 14  We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.”

Psalm 55:20-21 – “He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant. 21  The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.”

Fear, Flight and Funk are natural reactions to betrayal and troubles.  We fear consequences.  We long to flee hurts and put as much distance as we can between those who have wounded us and ourselves.  When we are unable to flee, we are tempted to retreat into depression and nurse our wounds.

David was king and, though he might retreat from his throne for a season, he could not escape the responsibility that he was God’s anointed and the challenges he faced were “God-size” problems from which only the LORD could deliver him.  That brings us to David’s fourth response, Faith.   David turned his thoughts from his hurts and disappointments and prayed (55:16-18).

Psalm 55:16-18 – “As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. 17  Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. 18  He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.”

I close with David’s invitation to all who suffer betrayal and bear the scars of disappointment.

Psalm 55:22 – “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith