Psalm 55 — Betrayal is the Worst — Reading the Psalms

For the Chief Musician; on stringed instruments. Maschil of David.

1 Give ear to my prayer, O God;
And hide not thyself from my supplication.
2 Attend unto me, and answer me:
I am restless in my complaint, and moan;
3 Because of the voice of the enemy,
Because of the oppression of the wicked;
For they cast iniquity upon me,
And in anger they persecute me.
4 My heart is sore pained within me:
And the terrors of death are fallen upon me.
5 Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me,
And horror hath overwhelmed me.
6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove!
Then would I fly away, and be at rest.
7 Lo, then would I wander far off,
I would lodge in the wilderness.     Selah
8 I would haste me to a shelter
From the stormy wind and tempest.
9 Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongue:
For I have seen violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they go about upon the walls thereof:
Iniquity also and mischief are in the midst of it.
11 Wickedness is in the midst thereof:
Oppression and guile depart not from her streets.
12 For it was not an enemy that reproached me;
Then I could have borne it:
Neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me;
Then I would have hid myself from him:
13 But it was thou, a man mine equal,
My companion, and my familiar friend.
14 We took sweet counsel together,
We walked in the house of God with the throng.
15 Let death come suddenly upon them,
Let them go down alive into the pit:
For wickedness is in their dwelling, in the midst of them.
16 As for me, I will call upon God;
And the LORD shall save me.
17 Evening, and morning, and at noonday, will I complain, and moan:
And he shall hear my voice.
18 He hath redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me:
For they were many that strove with me.
19 God shall hear, and answer them,
Even he that abideth of old,     Selah
The men who have no changes,
And who fear not God.
20 He hath put forth his hands against such as were at peace with him:
He hath profaned his covenant.
21 His mouth was smooth as butter,
But his heart was war:
His words were softer than oil,
Yet were they drawn swords.
22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD,
And he shall sustain thee:
He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
23 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction:
Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days;
But I will trust in thee.

Such a sad psalm reflecting our reckless and unreliable world. As David recounts his troubles we are led from the dangerous enemy to the deception of the disloyal. When we are betrayed by our friends or family – or anyone on which we depend – we fall deeper than what the hand of any enemy could do.

The pain of betrayal and deception can leave us restless and complaining, like David. We feel pains of spirit and body, trembling at the thought of our loss. David wants to flee – don’t we all? Don’t you wish you could fly away, like a dove, into a different place and peace? The shelter many seek from these tempests and storms is found in escapism: drugs, binge streaming videos, faces glued to our phones or diving into endless work. These are not sure shelters, however.

At the end of the psalm, after calling for God’s vindication over these betrayers, we are urged to cast our burdens on the Lord knowing he will sustain us. He will never suffer (or allow) us to be moved. Often, when I pray for loved ones who leave the Lord, I ask that they may know the Lord’s love that they might forget human love and its failure. This is what we ourselves need: to know the Lord’s love.

The Lord’s love never fails. The Lord’s shelter is forever strong. The Lord’s help is eternal.

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