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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Scripture Reading: Psalm 55
Give ear to my prayer, O God;
     do not hide yourself from my supplication.
Attend to me, and answer me;
     I am troubled in my complaint.
I am distraught by the noise of the enemy,
     because of the clamor of the wicked.
For they bring trouble upon me,
     and in anger they cherish enmity against me.

My heart is in anguish within me,
     the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
     and horror overwhelms me.
And I say, “O that I had wings like a dove!
     I would fly away and be at rest;
truly, I would flee far away;
     I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah

I would hurry to find a shelter for myself
     from the raging wind and tempest.”

Confuse, O Lord, confound their speech;
     for I see violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they go around it
     on its walls,
and iniquity and trouble are within it;
     ruin is in its midst;
oppression and fraud
     do not depart from its marketplace.

It is not enemies who taunt me—
     I could bear that;
it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me—
     I could hide from them.
But it is you, my equal,
     my companion, my familiar friend,
with whom I kept pleasant company;
     we walked in the house of God with the throng.
Let death come upon them;
     let them go down alive to Sheol;
     for evil is in their homes and in their hearts.

But I call upon God,
     and the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
     I utter my complaint and moan,
     and he will hear my voice.
He will redeem me unharmed
     from the battle that I wage,
     for many are arrayed against me.
God, who is enthroned from of old, Selah
     will hear, and will humble them—
because they do not change,
     and do not fear God.

My companion laid hands on a friend
     and violated a covenant with me
with speech smoother than butter,
     but with a heart set on war;
with words that were softer than oil,
     but in fact were drawn swords.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
     and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
     the righteous to be moved.

But you, O God, will cast them down
     into the lowest pit;
the bloodthirsty and treacherous
     shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you. (NRSV)

Reflection
The writer of Psalm 55 had been betrayed by someone who had been a friend. The exact nature of the betrayal is unclear, but it involved two people who had thought they were on the same page and assumed they could trust one another. The betrayal was significant and devastating. It was a breach of trust between two people: “My companion laid hands on a friend and violated a covenant with me with speech smoother than butter, but with a heart set on war; with words that were softer than oil, but in fact were drawn swords.

There is little that is more devastating than betrayal. I remember the first time either one of my children lied to me. I was indignant the first time it happened. Betrayal shakes the foundation of a relationship, so much so that the betrayed one can sink into despair. Sometimes the despair lasts for a lifetime.

I know people who have been betrayed and have never been able to forget it. And I know others who have been betrayed in significant ways and who seem to have arrived at a place of peace and forgiveness. I wonder what makes the difference?

A good friend experienced the betrayal of a husband and the resulting divorce when their children were young. She experienced every emotion—anger, dismay, confusion, despair, regret, loss of confidence, and more. But throughout the years, she continued to practice faith-building practices. Eventually she got to the point where rancor no longer needed to be expressed toward her former husband. I believe her ability to get beyond the betrayal was the result of doing what the psalmist instructs in this psalm: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you.

Prayer
Dear God, remind me to cast my burdens of distrust or anger or resentment on you. And if I don’t feel as though you are on the other end of my prayer, give me trust that you are. Help me to know that no matter what betrayal in life I may experience, there is no betrayal that can separate me from your love. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care


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