The Book of Psalms

Friday: Betrayed by a Close Friend


Theme: Conclusion and Practical Advice
In this week’s lessons we learn how David moves from great anguish and pain over his betrayal, to a settled confidence in God’s care.
Scripture: Psalm 55:1-23
The alternating structure of the psalm continues in verses 20 and 21, where David casts a final glance at the friend who has betrayed him. But the tone has changed, hasn’t it? Earlier David was deeply pained by the betrayal. Here, having laid the matter before God and having assured himself that God is his Savior and that he will surely deliver him from such evil, David steps away from his own feelings and reflects on the wrongdoing itself. The real problem is that the man is a covenant breaker, and the reason he breaks covenant is that he is a hypocrite. He pretends one thing but plots another. He speaks peace, but actually he is devising war.
But enough of that! There will always be traitors and hypocrites and covenant breakers in this world. It is a fallen world. Righteousness you may hope for; sin you can count on. Sin is everywhere. The question is: What are the righteous to do in such deplorable conditions? Significantly, the psalm ends by answering this question. It tells us: “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”
This classic statement is the verse picked up by the Apostle Peter and commended to us in the fifth chapter of his first epistle: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). Early in his life Peter had been a very anxious person. In the final days of Jesus’ earthly life Peter had been greatly worried about what might happen to Jesus, and then, when Jesus was arrested, he was even more worried about what might happen to himself. Peter was a great worrier, and not without cause. But as he grew older he learned not to worry but rather to do what he then also commended to other people, to cast his cares on God.
Why should we do that? Isn’t this just another form of escapism, the kind of thing David was wanting to do early in Psalm 55? No. In fact, it is the exact opposite. It is learning to cast our cares on God that enables us not to run away but to stand tall and carry on with the task God has assigned us. Casting our cares on God enables us to be strong. The last verses give three reasons why we should cast our cares on the Lord.
First, “he will sustain you.” When we are down it is natural to think that we will never be able to bear up under the troubles that are pressing in from every side. We are sure we will be beaten down. But that is not the case. The Bible says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
Second, “he will never let the righteous fall.” Peter was sure he was going to fall on one occasion. It was when he was trying to walk toward Jesus over the water of the lake of Galilee, looked at the waves and began to sink. “Lord, save me,” he cried (Matt. 14:30). This is exactly what David has been praying in this psalm. He wants to be saved. And the Lord did it. He saved David, just as he saved Peter and all who cast their cares upon him. David is not exaggerating when he says, “the LORD…will never let the righteous fall.”
Third, “God…will bring down the wicked.” Evil persons may succeed for a time, but it is the promise of God as well as the judgment of history that they soon perish and are destroyed, just as they had sought so hard to destroy other people.
The bottom line is the psalm’s last sentence: “But as for me, I trust in you,” that is, in God. That is David’s final testimony. Is it yours? If you are focusing on the evil around you, you may not be able to say, “But as for me, I trust in you.” But you will be able to
say it, if you have really cast your cares on God.
Study Questions:

Why has David’s tone changed toward his betrayer in verses 20-21?
What is the real nature of his friend’s betrayal?
List the three reasons given for why we should cast all our cares on the Lord.

Application: How have you known God’s care for you during bad experiences? Praise him for his goodness toward you, and look for ways to encourage others close to you who are being mistreated.
For Further Study: James Boice’s three-volume collection of sermons covering all 150 Psalms can be used for personal devotions or group studies, and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is offering it for 25% off the regular price.

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