For the past few weeks I have been meditating on some of the Psalms – you might have guessed from my recent posts. One of the many things that strike me about these prayer-songs is the sometimes brutal honesty with which the writers address God. They are not afraid to express their deepest feelings of frustration, hurt, anguish and anger.
Perhaps one of the hardest of all experiences in life is that of betrayal by a friend. David experienced this – more than once. In one Psalm he bemoans the fact that his greatest problem is not an open enemy – but a friend!
“If it were just an enemy sneering at me,
I could take it.
If it were just someone who has always hated me, treating me like dirt,
I’d simply hide away.
But it is you! A man like me,
my old friend, my companion.
We enjoyed sweet conversation,
walking together in the house of God among the pressing crowds.”
“My friend has become a foe, breaking faith, tearing down peace.
He’s betrayed our covenant.
Oh, how his pleasant voice is smoother than butter,
while his heart is enchanted by war.”
Psalm 55 12-14 & 20-21 [The Voice]
Sadly what David experienced is not unknown in the Christian community today. Rob Shepherd, lead pastor at Next Level Church, Yorktown, Virginia wrote recently in relation to such issues — “Best friends become sworn enemies overnight in the church world.”
At the height of what is known as “The Cambuslang Revival” in Scotland many years ago, George Whitfield’s strongest opposition came not from enemies of Christianity but those who once claimed to be his friends! Among the many terrible things he was called by such “fellow Christians” were – “A limb of anti-Christ” and “A scandalous Idolater. Yet, of the man himself during that period, it is recorded – “Whitfield’s own conduct and spirit under the bitter virulence of this personal attack are beyond all praise; never for a moment was he diverted in to controversy or self-justification.” No wonder God used him so mightily!
And yet surely the greatest of betrayals was when the perfect One – Jesus – Love divine – Love incarnate – was sold in to captivity and death by one of his closest friends and followers. I sometimes wonder why, knowing what he did, Jesus did not part company with Judas a long time before that dreadful night – or why indeed he chose him in the first place? Might it be in part to show that many of us will face this most terrible of experiences at some point in life – betrayal, and that by a friend.
Perhaps some reading these words are living in this pain today. May God give us the honesty of David in expressing our disappointment to him, the spirit of Whitfield in submitting ourselves only to God’s approval and the never ending love and compassion of Jesus as we walk this dark valley.