We have ten lessons from David’s own experience; ten exhortations for when we feel we’ve been betrayed.
It’s a challenge to try to figure out the organization of the book of Psalms. Or I should say, the books of Psalms—there are five. Some of the organization is easy to see, for example Psalms 120-132 in Book Five are the songs of ascents, we’re informed in their titles.
Today I noticed what seems to be another group of psalms that might be intentionally collected together. I can’t be sure I’ve got it right. Take a look and see what you think.
Book Two begins with a group of psalms attributed to the Sons of Korah (42-49, although 43 isn’t attributed). Then there’s one attributed to Asaph, and then comes a section attributed to David (51-60), almost all of them with titles giving us the historical context of when they were written. It seems to me that this section is all about betrayal:
- 51 – self-betrayed by his own sin
- 52 – betrayal by an evil man who is a colleague in the court of Saul (Doeg)
- 53 – God observing that all are fools who betray their God
- 54 – betrayal by allies (Ziphites)
- 55 – betrayal by a “familiar friend” (surely Ahithophel)
- 56 – betrayal by one with whom he sought refuge (Achish)
- 57 – those who hunt David betrayed by their own devices
- 58 – corrupt judges betraying those who look to them for justice
- 59 – betrayal by the ruler he faithfully serves (Saul)
- 60 – seeming betrayal of the nation by God
The first and last of the series seem particularly noteworthy. The beginning of all betrayal is our human sinfulness, and it’s both God and our own selves that we betray. The concluding psalm expresses feelings we’ve all had, feeling God is betraying us, isn’t holding up His end.
Every one of these psalms includes David’s appreciation of the solution to each betrayal:
- God’s mercy and willingness to wash us clean
- God will break the evil man, and make the faithful man to flourish
- God scatters the fools who work evil, God restores His people
- No matter who rises against God’s faithful one, He will deliver them
- Cast your burden on God, who heeds the call of His faithful one
- He mistakenly trusted a mortal man, only God can truly deliver
- God won’t allow the enemies to be victorious, we will give Him thanksgiving
- God will break the rule of the unjust
- God is a fortress against those who attack His faithful one
- In actual fact, although God’s timeline makes it seem He is failing us, ultimately “with God we shall do valiantly”.
What we have, then, are ten lessons from David’s own experience. Ten exhortations for when we feel we’ve been betrayed. And don’t forget: to put ourselves among the faithful ones rather than the enemies, we must acknowledge that the biggest betrayal is our own sin. The only solution, David shows us, is confession and appeal to God for mercy and grace. Then, the rest can follow.