When Friends Become Enemies (Psalms 17, 35, 54, 63)

Scripture Reading Assignment – Psalms 17, 35, 54, 63

While today’s Scripture reading covers four chapters (Psalms 17, 35, 54, 63), this devotional commentary will focus solely on Psalm 35. The parallel to Psalm 35 is most likely the events that are recorded in 1 Samuel 19:5; 20:1; 23:25; 24:9-15; 25:29; 26:18-19.

Psalm 35 – The Betrayal of Friends and Peers

Psalm 35 is a song chronicling a low time in David’s life when he had suffered the deep wounds of betrayal from King Saul, a man whom he had faithfully served on the battlefield and in the palace. David’s popularity in Israel had soared after he slew Goliath, provoking the king to jealousy who then set upon a plot to murder David. The king’s plot was to murder David as though he were a foe (1 Samuel 24).

Betrayed by his friends, David turned to the LORD and prayed for God to be his Advocate (35:1-3). We find David calling on the LORD in verse one. Falsely accused and fearing for his safety, David employed two metaphors in his petition that defined the work of an attorney: Plead, a call for the LORD to come to his aid and declare his innocence; and Fight, a request for the LORD to go to battle on his behalf.

David Prayed for the LORD to Be His Warrior. (35:2-3).

He called upon the LORD to come to his defense as a warrior with “shield,” a covering for the body, and “buckler,” a small shield for hand-to-hand combat (35:3). David prayed for the LORD to not only be his defense, but also to mount an offensive against his enemies (35:3) with the spear.

Psalm 35:4-10 – An Imprecatory Prayer

David prayed for God’s judgment upon his foes (35:4-6). He protested his innocence (35:7), declaring he had a clear conscience and the accusations of his enemy and their attempt to entrap him was “without cause” (for no reason). He pled for justice and that the traps and devices his enemies had planned for his destruction would be their own undoing (35:8-10).

Psalm 35:8 – “Let destruction [desolation; ruin] come upon him at unaware; and let his net that he hath hid [concealed] catch [take; capture; seize] himself: into that very destruction [desolation; ruin] let him fall [fail; cast down].”

A great illustration of such an event, an enemy of the LORD and His people falling victim to his own schemes, is the story of Haman being hung upon the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai, a righteous Hebrew man (Esther 7:9-10).

David was not seeking personal revenge for the wrongs committed against him. Rather than allow his soul to become controlled by a vengeful spirit, he had turned to the LORD to seek justice (Romans 12:14, 19-21).

David praised the LORD for His incomparable nature (35:10) and prosecuted his case against his enemies’ injustices (35:11, 16). He had been maligned by false accusations, slandered, and defamed (35:11). He had proven himself to be a fearless warrior; however, when facing the king and his soldiers (the equivalent of today’s federal government), David was helpless to defend himself.

He was a victim of malevolence, declaring: “They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul” (35:12-13). David had ministered to, prayed for, and grieved for King Saul when his soul was tormented, like a son grieves for a mother who is ill (35:14).

In his hour of need, those who had been his friends assailed David as an enemy (35:15-16). They had mocked, slandered, and publicly derided him. He had been the object of their rage and accusations (35:16).

Betrayal, broken trust, and treachery are wounds you must learn to bear in life.  They might be afflicted by an abusive parent, an unfaithful spouse, a disloyal friend, or an unfair employer. Be cautious whom you allow into your inner circle of confidants for invariably, there will be a Judas among them.

Lesson – Those you help the most are often the ones who turn and wound you deepest.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith