David was a renown warrior, a celebrated king, religious reformer, bright inventor and architect, and an exceptional poet and songwriter. Yet this successful man suffered the agony caused by betrayal and the loss of friendship.
Psalm 55:1-2,12-22 – A Maskil (instruction) of David.
1 Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
2 Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan.
12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me— then I could hide from him.
13 But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend.
14 We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng.
15 Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol [the place for the dead] alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.
16 But I call to God, and the LORD will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
18 He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.
19 God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old because they do not change and do not fear God.
20 My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant.
21 His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.
22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Observation and Reflection
Context: This Psalm expresses David’s emotive prayer after Ahithophel (one of David’s most trusted advisors and close friend) abandoned him and joined the rebellion lead by Absalom.
- Rephrase David’s plea to God in your own words (v1-2a). What does he ask of God?
- David’s soul is in anguish; apart from fear for his life, describe what other emotions lie heavy on his heart in this psalm. [note v12-13, 20-21]
- A Maskil is a teaching psalm. What is the main lesson in this Psalm? [hint: v22]
- In verses 12-15 and again verses 20-21 David expresses similar emotions about the same person and situation. What does that suggest of (a) our emotions and (b) our prayers?
Personal Reflections and Application
David suffered the pain of betrayal; the sense of loss broke his heart and sent world spinning. The fact that this Psalm was written during a life-threatening rebellion says much about the primacy of relationships in our human existence: companionship is our life, and relational conflict and pain brings stress and anguish to our soul. The substance of our prayers should be the life in our relationships, rather than the necessities for our daily existence.
- Consider your relational life. Note the joys, the concerns, the conflict. Which relationship presses heaviest on your heart?
- Bluntly tell God about the situation and express your feelings to God. Try to name or describe what you feel.
- What would you like God to do? Declare your trust in God as David did.
- Ask what does God want you to do in this situation.
Note: It is wise and sometimes absolutely necessary to talk to a mature Christian friend or counsellor about the personal pain such as betrayal, abandonment and shame caused by failed relationships.