When a friend betrays

5 Jan

Psalm 55 expresses pain that we have not seen in the earlier psalms.   The writes is appealing to God because they are under a slanderous attack from a friend.  The writer appeals with passion for God’s help.

1-3 Open your ears, God, to my prayer;
don’t pretend you don’t hear me knocking.
Come close and whisper your answer.
I really need you.
I shudder at the mean voice,
quail before the evil eye,
As they pile on the guilt,
stockpile angry slander.

4-8 My insides are turned inside out;
specters of death have me down.
I shake with fear,
I shudder from head to foot.
“Who will give me wings,” I ask—
“wings like a dove?”
Get me out of here on dove wings;
I want some peace and quiet.
I want a walk in the country,
I want a cabin in the woods.
I’m desperate for a change
from rage and stormy weather.

As the writer calls for God’s decisive action, they talk about the division that have been created in the city.  I think about local church were people have chosen sides and divided church.  These divisions cause conflict, stress, and draw focus away from the grace of God.

9-11 Come down hard, Lord—slit their tongues.
I’m appalled how they’ve split the city
Into rival gangs
prowling the alleys
Day and night spoiling for a fight,
trash piled in the streets,
Even shopkeepers gouging and cheating
in broad daylight.

12-14 This isn’t the neighborhood bully
mocking me—I could take that.
This isn’t a foreign devil spitting
invective—I could tune that out.
It’s you! We grew up together!
You! My best friend!
Those long hours of leisure as we walked
arm in arm, God a third party to our conversation.

It is difficult to be betrayed by anyone, but how much harder it is to be deceived by someone close to you.  Can you understand the deep emotion of this psalm as the writer lives the pain abandonment.

15 Haul my betrayers off alive to hell—let them
experience the horror, let them
feel every desolate detail of a damned life.

16-19 I call to God;
God will help me.
At dusk, dawn, and noon I sigh
deep sighs—he hears, he rescues.
My life is well and whole, secure
in the middle of danger
Even while thousands
are lined up against me.
God hears it all, and from his judge’s bench
puts them in their place.
But, set in their ways, they won’t change;
they pay him no mind.

The answer for the writer is the answer for all of us.  To call on God.  To look to God for judgement and know that it is God’s job to “put them in their place.”  Even though the writer has no hope that ones who have caused damage will listen to God, it does not stop the writer from believing in God’s power.

20-21 And this, my best friend, betrayed his best friends;
his life betrayed his word.
All my life I’ve been charmed by his speech,
never dreaming he’d turn on me.
His words, which were music to my ears,
turned to daggers in my heart.

22-23 Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—
he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.
He’ll never let good people
topple into ruin.
But you, God, will throw the others
into a muddy bog,
Cut the lifespan of assassins
and traitors in half.

And I trust in you.”

I love the imagine of piling our troubles on God’s shoulders.  God will carry our load and make sure we do not fall.  As I have said before, I really don’t think God needs to “throw the others into a muddy bog”.  I think their own inauthentic and unfaithful lives will destroy them more effectively than anything else.

It is God I always trust.  Even when life is not like I planned . .  even when those I thought I could count on aren’t . . . even when I am in uncharted territory. .  I will trust in God.  Peace.



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