When Friends Fail

Evening, morning, and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice” —Psalm 55:17, NIV.

The title given for Psalm 55 in my Bible is “Prayer for friends who betray.” As you begin to read the psalm you are struck with the depth of David’s despair as he faces the most hurtful situation of all—a friend who becomes an enemy.

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” (vss. 12-14).

David’s enemies were often his own children. His closest companions-in-arms and confidantes often overstepped their authority and committed acts that David repudiated. Those he trusted, feeling that their own welfare was more secure if they supported the opposition, sometimes switched sides in the political seesaw of the kingdom.

The pain of that betrayal never left David. He thought about it all day and he constantly sought God on the subject. God never says that there won’t be pain, and He seldom rebukes us for feeling it (He told Samuel to stop mourning for Saul and get on with business). But it is the expression of trust in the middle of those dreadful moments that He looks for. Just before today’s verse the psalmist wrote: “But I call to God, and the Lord saves me” (vs. 16) and immediately after, “He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me” (vs. 18). Then a little later, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall…but as for me I trust in you” (vss. 22, 23b).

The pain must be experienced as an inevitable byproduct of living in a broken world. When even our closest friends fail us, there is One who will never fail us, never betray us, never walk away. We can cry out to Him, throw our pain on Him, and know for a certainly that He will be faithful.


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