Observe: The Psalmist pleas for help from God for his inner turmoil. He wants to flee from his enemy, who was a near friend. The depth of betrayal is very deep, and his reaction is to ask God for revenge. At. V 16, he pleads with God who alone can save him. After more description of the betrayer’s lies, the final stanza is spoken to others: “Cast your cares/burdens on the Lord, and he will sustain you,” ending with a final hope that God will avenge him.
Interpret: David was betrayed by his own son Absalom, ending in civil war, with the crown of Israel as the prize. Is this the background for this anguished plea for help against an enemy? Certainly David fled, and this Psalm expresses the desire to flee. The inner anguish of betrayal by someone close, “my companion, my close friend,” cuts deep. All this is told honestly to the Lord, mixed with expressions of trust. The final “Cast your cares on the Lord” is mixed with thirst for vindication.
Application: Nearly everyone gets betrayed by someone we trust at some point. A close friend turns her back; a spouse commits adultery; a trusted boss screws you over; a church leader you leaned on turns on you instead; an adult child cuts you off. Examples abound. Psalm 55 is a deep dive into the pain of betrayal: the turmoil, the desire to run away, and the prayers that God will avenge you. Pain slowly gives way to trust in what God will do, although the desire to inflict pain back is not completely gone. The last few verses show that the struggle is ongoing: telling others to trust, even as the desire for vindication lingers. The last verse: “But as for me, I trust in you,” points ahead to a path to resolution, but forgiveness is not yet in sight.
Judas betrayed Jesus; so did Peter. Jesus even saw it coming long before it happened. How did Jesus deal with that? Not by asking God for vengeance, but by trusting in God. For us to get to that point of trust, after deep personal betrayal, requires a long process of honestly dealing with the wounds and what caused them, asking God for help, and accepting that only God acts with perfect justice on our behalf. Key verse: “Cast your cares/burdens on the Lord, and he will sustain you.”
Prayer: “Lord, I have been deeply hurt by betrayal, but I will trust in your justice and your care. Amen.”
Song: “What A Friend We Have in Jesus”
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.