Dealing with betrayal and disappointment (Prayer day 9)

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.

  1. Rephrase David’s plea to God in your own words (v1-2a). What does he ask of God?
  2. 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]
  3. A Maskil is a teaching psalm. What is the main lesson in this Psalm? [hint: v22]
  4. 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.

  1. 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.

Praying through pain and frustration (Prayer day 8)

Doubt, frustration, anger and hopelessness –  these are the backdrop of many of the Psalms.  In these model prayers we find that our negative emotions are not the enemy of peace and faith, rather, they are often the vehicle through which we approach God to find him and restore our peace and faith in God.


Psalm 13:1-6 – A prayer of David.

1  How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

2  How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3  Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,

4  lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

5  But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

6  I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Observation and Reflection

  1. Notice the repeated phrase “How long?” How would you describe David’s emotional state in this prayer?  Use five to ten descriptive words to summarise David’s emotion in verse 1-2.
  2. David gives a few reasons why God should answer his prayer – what are those reasons?
  3. Compare and describe David’s emotional state in verses 1 and 6.
  4. Look at the turning point in verses 5-6.
    1. Does it seem as though David’s eternal situation have changed? Why would you say that?
    2. What did David experience that caused the change in emotions? (verse 5)
    3. What does the text suggest David has done that triggered the change in his emotions? (verse 6: “he has dealt bountifully…”)
  5. Considering Psalm 13 as a model prayer on dealing with sorrow and grief, try to identify how David prayed to God:

Verses 1-2 : eg. David bluntly told God how he felt about his current situation.

Verse 3-4 :

Verse 5-6 :

Personal Reflections and Application

David’s honesty might be offensive to “refined” Christians, but Scripture shows us that God loves honesty – and, as seen in the writings of the Prophets, He Himself is that unpretentious in his conversations with his people.  Psalm 13 invites us to be raw and direct in expressing our feelings to God, but at the same time to discern God’s activity through his presence, provision and protection within a painful situation.  Seeing the sovereign, saving hand of God in the midst of our suffering is the source of our hope and joy that carries one through.  God does not abandon his children!

  1. Become still and identify your area of greatest frustration and sorrow. (it could be your frustration and sorrows, or that of a situation that lays heavy on your heart).
    1. Bluntly express your feelings about the situation to God.
    2. Tell God what would happen if he does not come through (use Psalm 13 as guide).
    3. See if you can identify signs of God’s love and preservation within this situation. Ask the Holy Spirit to show God’s presence, providence and preservation within this situation. If you see it, thank God for his “steadfast love” and see how hope stirs in our heart.
    4. Declare your trust in God’s victory over this situation.

Note: to discern God’s presence within a painful situation might be difficult.  You might want to discuss that with a mature believer.  But take hope – you will see that God never abandons his children!