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The Pain of Betrayal and Our Hope in the Lord

Recently, I was reminded of the pain of betrayal as long-time friends attacked and hurt me. They would not listen. There was no way to defend the situation. I sat, helplessly, as the attacks against my family, my character and my life were systematically played out with great anger and intensity. At the end, I knew I had been betrayed. Honestly, it feels like one of the most painful experiences of my life. This is probably so because I truly trusted my friends. As I sort through the sorrow and grief of that evening, I find encouragement in the Scriptures.

There is no doubt that betrayal is painful. Once trusted confidants are no longer trustworthy. The resulting slander to reputations feels threatening. Fear of personal destruction takes over and we may begin to react to the betrayal outside of God’s will for us. King David writes, “Even my closest friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9) In the Psalm, David’s grief over a betrayal is clearly evident. Again in Psalm 55 we read the sorrow of betrayal, “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it; nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend.” (Psalm 55:12-14) David was betrayed by his own sons, by his trusted friends and by his advisors.

I love David’s Psalms. He reveals his heart to the Lord, and it is not always in a good place when he begins to express it. Often, he makes request for vengeance, retribution, punishment—even to the point of smiting his enemies, requesting that God totally wipe them out! I cannot agree with David’s requests to harm those who harm him. We are not promised that kind of protection from the Lord. David knows this and as each Psalm continues, we see a picture of David’s dependency on the Lord to handle the situation by dealing with him directly.

After David pours out his heart to the Lord, he turns to praise. “But you, O Lord, be gracious to me...You hold me up in integrity…You set me in Your presence forever.” (Psalm 41:10-12) David knows that only God can help his sorrowful heart. That only God can provide him protection from his enemies, who were once his closest friends. David turns and waits on the Lord.

I am encouraged by the stories of betrayal in the Bible. Each story reveals a need for total dependency on the Lord’s justice, provision, protection, and comfort. Even Jesus, who was betrayed by Judas and later crucified as a result, faced betrayal—a betrayal to the death! And yet, as he was openly betrayed, as those nearest to him turned their faces away from him in shame, Jesus remained steadfast toward the Father. Trusting that even in this ultimate betrayal, God would be glorified through Christ’s obedience. Jesus did not lash-out. He did not smite Judas as David may have asked. Yet, He loved him, even unto death.

Biblically, we are to love even our enemies. The great promise of this is that the justice of God will prevail. His Holy Spirit will convict them to repentance. When we love those who have harmed us, we are showing them who God is and letting the Holy Spirit do justice to them (Proverbs 25:21-22). I was reminded, like David, this week, the justice for the betrayal against me is from the Lord, and I already have that promise! God is a JUST God. He will bring His justice because He says He will. So, I can love my enemy and trust the Lord to provide comfort, strength, and protection through His justice.

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