Do know the sting of having someone you once trusted turn on you? If so, you can relate to King David. And the son of God, Jesus Christ. They were both betrayed by a friend.
David’s trusted friend and adviser was a man named Ahithophel. Ahithophel was so wise that the Bible says his counsel was considered as if one consulted the word of God. When David’s son, Absalom, revolted and tried to steal the throne, Ahithophel switched sides and began counseling Absalom. That had to hurt, to put it mildly. The story ends badly for everyone, and Ahithophel ended up committing suicide. You can read the full story in 2 Samuel 15-18.
David’s 41st Psalm seems to touch on the pain that Ahithophel caused:
Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
Similarly, Jesus had a friend he trusted sufficiently enough to handle the financial affairs. When this friend, Judas, betrayed him, it was to sell him out to the people who wanted to kill him. Jesus’ words about Judas echo David’s:
I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out.
This song by Michael Card touches on that betrayal.
I’m studying Psalm 41 this week and the ending gets me.
But you, O Lord, be gracious to me,
and raise me up, that I may repay them!
By this I know that you delight in me:
my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.
But you have upheld me because of my integrity,
and set me in your presence forever.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
Amen and Amen.
Yes, David asks to be able to repay the one who betrayed him. Which of us wouldn’t want revenge in a similar circumstance? I’m not saying it’s right, but it is a very human response (one we don’t see in the story of Jesus and Judas, by the way). But David first asks God to be gracious to him. We need that grace of God to help us when our own bitter feelings get the best of us.
He ends with praise and blessing on the Lord, the God of Israel. May we all, if or when we are betrayed by a friend, ask God to be gracious to us and bless his name instead of trying to get even.
I’m Walking Through the Psalms at Everyday Awe. Psalm 41 was a toughie. Join me next week for Psalm 42.