Knifed in the Back

Psalm 55 is another raw and brutally honest insight into an event in David’s life that once again brought him to his knees in prayer.

We know David had many enemies who wanted to do him harm during his life, however on this occasion (though we are not told the specific circumstances and the name of the perpetrator) we are informed that his fear and grief have been caused by an act of betrayed by “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“(v13-14).

As we would expect, having someone with whom you put your trust break that trust and turn against you is an extremely emotionally painful experience and David begins this psalm with an earnest plea to God to hear his words and answer his petition. We can identify with the abandonment he feels. I like how the Message version paraphrases the opening verses:

Open your ears, God, to my prayer; don’t pretend you don’t hear me knocking.
Come close and whisper your answer. I really need you.

When dramatic tragedies and painful situations arise and we feel that God has left us and that God is no longer on our side, we must be reminded as David does repeatedly throughout the psalms – turn to God first.

David paints a vivid picture of the pain and distress that he feels from being “knifed in the back” by this close friend in verses 4-8. Oh that he is anywhere but here – I am a betrayed King – Get me out of here!

He has been treated so unjustly, so David appeals to God to take action and hand down his judgement on the wickedness of his enemies so that they cannot accomplish their goals (v. 9-11).

Verse 12-15 get to the heart of the issue – the betrayal of a trusted friend. David’s condemnation of them shows no holding back – captured in the Message as “Haul my betrayers off alive to hell—let them experience the horror, let them feel every desolate detail of a damned life.” Put more bluntly – they can go to Hell!

But David left these things in God’s hands – it was not for him to take revenge for the evil done to him – instead he prayed to God to bring justice upon the evildoer. He could do this because of his total reliance on God (v.17-18). It highlights why we should be perseverant in prayer. Prayer is not only a petition to God but also a way to mold our faith. Continued prayer helps us change our exasperation to dependence on God. Talking to God helps our souls become relieved and have rest as we know that God is listening and will respond for us.

The Psalm concludes by David reminding himself and teaching others to place their burdens on God during these troublesome times. God can sustain us through a turbulent time as this and will never allow the righteous to be moved.

But as for me, I trust in you.