“But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng…My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.” - Psalm 55:13-14 & 20-21
An article recently published in the New York Times was written by a woman who found out by reading the Wedding section that her ex-husband had been cheating on her while they were still married. The story of the man and his new fiancée detailed the events that started their romantic relationship, failing to mention that this man was married while all of this was taking place. "According to the (New York Times) article, the couple, Rob and Lauren, started their relationship in January 2017. It also said that he had never been married. That was news to me--because I was his wife in January 2017," Moreno wrote in a piece for the New York Post.”
The pain of the betrayal is directly related to the depth and commitment of the relationship. The closer the relationship, the deeper the commitment, the more painful the betrayal becomes. A husband cheating on his wife is so devastating because a covenant has been violated. When a best friend betrays you, it is so disillusioning because of the trust and investment you have made in that relationship. What can be even worse is being betrayed by a fellow believer or a member of your church.
Jesus is no stranger to betrayal. The most well known act of betrayal in human history can be summed up in two words - Judas’ Kiss. In the garden of Gethsemane, in the middle of the night, Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss on the cheek. This betrayal, which was committed for a mere 30 pieces of silver, set into motion the unjust arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Christ. Judas, one of the twelve disciples who spent three years in close relationship with Jesus, committed the most heinous act of betrayal against his friend, Rabbi, and Lord. In Mark 14 we get a an account of this treason against heaven, as Judas leads a crowd that included soldiers with swords and clubs as well as the religious leaders of the temple. Jesus responds with a question, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled (Mark 14:48-49)." While the soldiers holding their swords might not have caught it, the scribes holding their scrolls should have certainly taken note of Jesus’ words, “But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” What Scriptures were being fulfilled in this moment of betrayal? Most Bible scholars point out that this was the beginning of the prophetic fulfillment of Isaiah 53. However, specifically, they also point to David’s words found in Psalm 55. While David’s betrayal was bitter, it only foreshadowed the betrayal that Jesus would experience in the garden of Gethsemane.
It has been said that “best friends make the worst enemies.” We can understand when an enemy attacks us. Although it may be painful, it is not unexpected. However, when a friend, a brother, a believer in Christ stabs us in the back, it can be a devastating blow. Many who leave the church, and even their faith entirely, can trace their departure to an unresolved act of betrayal. It is in the context of this very theme that David pens the heart of this psalm, “Cast your burdens on the Lord.” This was the burden, deeper and more debilitating than any other that David felt most compelled to write about. May we also recognize, that Jesus is familiar with our grief. As Isaiah prophetically describes, "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Like one from whom men hide their faces, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not (Isaiah 53:3)." Furthermore, when Jesus took the punishment for our sins, He also bore the burden of our sorrows. We can cast our burdens on Jesus, because it is "by His wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5)."
Do not mistake the bitter disappointment you are experiencing towards a professed Christian as a betrayal by Jesus Himself. Remember this covenant that Jesus made to His friends. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)." When every disciple turned their back on Jesus, when the crowds jeered and shouted "crucify Him,” Jesus never turned His back on you. He is a faithful friend. Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. He is with you, until the very end. Cast your burden upon Jesus, He cares for you (see 1 Peter 5:7).