Read Psalm 55:1-23
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous fall.
What’s the worst thing that could happen to you? I suspect that right up there close to the top would be the utter horror of being betrayed by someone who has been very close to you. What makes betrayal’s shock, humiliation and devastation so unbearable is that it comes from the hand of one with whom you have entrusted your inner thoughts, secret aspirations, and even life itself. The pain of betrayal is perhaps the worst of all.
David was enduring that pain—that’s the reason for this psalm. (Psalm 55:12-13) And as you read through this sad song, you’ll see some raw emotions leaking out of David; emotions that range from feeling as if he could just curl up and die (Psalm 55:4) to being overwhelmed with dread and fear (Psalm 55:5) to escapist thinking (Psalm 55:6-8) to outright anger and revenge (Psalm 55:15). It’s just natural to feel all those things when someone who shouldn’t have has stabbed you in the back.
Betrayal is a painful part of the human experience. No one gets a pass in life on being stabbed in the back, not even the greats: Not Julius Caesar, not William Wallace, not the brightest theological mind who ever lived—the Apostle Paul, not even the most perfect human being who walked the earth—Jesus Christ. And if Jesus had his Judas, guess what? You’ll have one, too, at some point in your life.
David had a man named Ahithophel (II Samuel 15:12)—a once trusted confidant who turned on him.This may be the unnamed man about whom David is venting in Psalm 55. Ultimately, though, David turned away from the wide range of negative and corrosive emotions described above by taking his pain to the Lord. And that’s the best therapy for betrayal. It doesn’t help much to continually dwell in a state of “why me?” or “how could she?” or “why did he.” Healing begins when we bring our truest, rawest feelings into God’s presence, as often as necessary, until we begin to regain our spiritual vitality and emotional stability.
Now it may take awhile to get past the devastating pain, the seething anger, and the insatiable hunger for revenge, but we must not give up until victory comes. David didn’t. He just kept bringing his pain back to God: “But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.” (Psalm 55:16-17) That’s how you get the upper hand in a betrayal.
And by the way, if you are going through the painful wound of betrayal right now, remember, you are walking where great people have walked before. Their greatness came because they didn’t allow betrayal to ruin them; they learned how to turn their pain into greater submission to the Lord. David did (read II Samuel 15:25-26). So did Jesus. He responded to Judas’ treachery with obedient submission to the will and purposes of God. And look what happened: he transformed the world.
Perhaps God wants to use your pain to transform your world, too!
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson