Psalm 55

Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.

I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest- I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”

Confuse the wicked, O Lord, confound their speech, for I see violence and strife in the city. Day and night they prowl about on its walls; malice and abuse are within it. Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets.

If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.

Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave, for evil finds lodging among them. But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. God, who is enthroned forever, will hear them and afflict them- men who never change their ways and have no fear of God.

My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords. Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. But you, O God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of corruption; bloodthirsty and deceitful men will not live out half their days.

But as for me, I trust in you.

David was writing about Saul when he complained that it was a former friend who had betrayed him with words as smooth as butter while his heart was filled with thoughts of war. He was also writing prophetically of the relationship between Jesus and Judas. Prophecies from Psalms and Zechariah show how the Lord felt about His betrayal.

Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. (Psalm 41:9) If someone asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your body (lit. your hands)?’ he will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.’ (Zech. 13:6) In the end, it was those closest to Him who betrayed Him.

It seems like history is replete with stories of betrayal by close friends. I know that the deepest wounds I received during my time in pastoral ministry were inflicted by those closest to me. Jesus told His disciples that there would come a time when those who persecuted them would think they were performing a service for God (John 16:2) and that one day people’s enemies would come from among their own households. (Matt 10:36). Betrayal seems to be a characteristic of God’s children. Here’s why.

Satan will try anything to destroy relationships, especially those built around a love for the Lord. That’s why church fights are always among the worst. And since we’re all sinners there’s always a way he can get to us. Maybe we’re jealous of a friend’s accomplishments or envious of his possessions or his position. Our enemy will use these unconfessed sins to gain access to our minds and plant seemingly well-intentioned but destructive ideas there.

These ideas can manifest themselves as gossip, insubordination, rebellion, and so on. He used Saul’s mental condition to make him think David was trying to kill him so he could get Saul to try and kill David, God’s anointed. Saul thought he was putting down an uprising and acting in self-defense.

Judas was trying to arrange a meeting between the chief priests and Jesus. He became convinced that there was simply a communication problem between them, a problem that could be resolved with some face-to-face discussion and negotiation. He was devastated to learn that through them Satan had tricked him into handing Jesus over to be executed.

Believers are among the enemy’s best assistants because they think they can’t be used this way. They believe every inspiration they get has to be from the Lord, even when it conflicts with scripture and the advice of wise counselors.

To avoid being used as such a tool, stay in fellowship. Confess early and often. Look for independent confirmation before you act on what you believe to be a message from God, for by the testimony of two or three witnesses a thing shall be established. (Deut. 19:15) Bring any idea you have to the leadership and ask them to pray with you to confirm God’s will in the matter.

Remember, any work undertaken at the hand of the Lord will produce manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit within the body: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) He is not the author of confusion or contention. Those things come from an entirely different source.