If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers. (Psalm 55:12-14)
As she got older, my grandmother would complain that she had lost her sense of smell. As a young boy, I thought that was a bit odd, but it turns out it’s not that uncommon at all. Of course, anyone who is of a “certain age” begins to discover that our eyesight and hearing can begin to fail us. But research has shown that as we age, every one of our senses just naturally begins to dull a bit. Maybe it’s losing the ability to really “wake up and smell the coffee” in the morning; maybe we have to think back to a time when we were really “ticklish.” Even our sense of taste can begin to fail—although, it seems “poor taste” has no age limits!
In our journey through the psalms, we have listened to songs of praise and worship, words of wisdom and warning, and cries of grief and lament. In fact, every conceivable human emotion is “felt” and “tasted” in the words of the psalms. As author Sarah Christmyer describes it, “The Psalms are a school of prayer in which we can learn to gather our troubles, fears, inadequacies, and needs and take them to the One who loves us.”
David the worshipper does just that. Our song today is one of four consecutive psalms in which David is asking God for help in times of trouble. He asks God to deliver him from “arrogant foes and ruthless people” (Ps. 54), from his “enemies and adversaries” (Ps. 56), and even from “lions and ravenous beasts” (Ps. 57). David knew that his world was full of threats and dangers, but he also knew that his world was ruled by a powerful and loving King—a God who truly cared about him and cared for him.
In the midst of this group of songs, however, we discover a very different threat mentioned in Psalm 55. David is once again asking God for help in times of confusion and fear, “My thoughts trouble me, and I am distraught” (vs. 2); “My heart is in anguish within me” (vs. 4); “Fear and trembling have beset me, and horror has overwhelmed me” (vs. 5). David is facing an emotional crisis. But this threat doesn’t take the form of military foes, or political adversaries or wild beasts. No, this emotional attack is much worse than any of those things:
“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers.” (vs. 12-14)
What David is struggling with is the betrayal of a close friend. We don’t know the exact details of the betrayal, but we can certainly identify with David’s feelings and emotions. Betrayal can only happen in the context of friendship and love. It’s not our enemies that betray us…it’s our friends. David describes this friend as “my companion, my close friend.” It is someone “with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God.”
Maybe you know that kind of betrayal…betrayal at the hands of a Christian friend, or a church. Maybe you allowed yourself to be vulnerable and got burned in the process. It happens…even in churches. In fact, it happens a lot. It happens because we allow ourselves to hope and to believe and to trust that this friend…this community…this church…will never disappoint us or let us down. And sadly, even our closest friends can and do fail us.
I can imagine that David longs for reconciliation. He would love to go back to those earlier, sweeter days. But the sweetness has dulled, his senses are numb, the delight is gone. Where can we go when even the best things in life lose their sweetness?
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (vs. 22).
Have you lost a little bit of the sweetness? It can actually happen at any age. Maybe you’ve been betrayed…maybe you have even been the betrayer! Either way, it’s good and right to desire reconciliation and to work toward it. Seek forgiveness…offer it to someone who has hurt you…try to make things right. But always remember this, there is only one perfect place to put our hopes, and beliefs, and trust. There is only one friend that never lets us down. As the proverb reminds us:
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
That reliable friend is Jesus…the same Jesus that promises to never leave you or forget about you (Hebrews 13:5); the same Jesus who invites us to cast all our cares on him (1 Peter 5:7); the same Jesus who offers everyone sweet, sustaining, living water (John 4:10). Go to him when there is nowhere else to go. Better yet, go to him all the time. Go to him right now! He is your only forever friend. And that’s a sweet thing. Stay thirsty for Him!