Oh that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest!
I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness.
I have thought those very words. I wished for wings or the super power of instant transport to whisk me away to a quiet secluded space — maybe the bottom of the Grand Canyon or high up in the mountains overlooking Sedona. Like David, in this psalm, life gets real … real messy.
Read Psalm 55 now.
The psalms are relatable. (The dictionary says that’s not a word. I disagree. It means that I am able to relate to them – relatable – one word instead of seven. Easy!) I identify with David as he pours his heart out to God. He pleads for God to hear him, he cries out that he would not be ignored. And then he describes how his trouble affects him in his body. His heart pounds, fear and trembling overwhelm, he can’t stop shaking. I respond to those images. I know how that feels.
In short, David is in trouble. There is trouble, violence and hatred. He asks God to confuse and frustrate the plans of the troublemakers. Verse twelve is the real kicker. It isn’t David’s enemies who taunt him, it is his friend–his companion, his equal! Now he has my attention.
I have been pondering this psalm for a couple of weeks. I understand the feelings expressed in these lines. I know the feeling of betrayal. Like he says, if it were an enemy, I could bear it. But a close friend? Shouldn’t a friend protect?
As I pondered, I wondered if David wrote about a specific situation in his own life. After all, he encountered opposition from those close to him. After serving in Saul’s court, Saul turned against him and hunted him for years. David’s own son, Absalom, rebelled and attempted to steal the kingdom away from him (II Samuel 15-18) and his closest adviser, Ahithophel, left him to advise Absalom in his rebellion (II Samuel 15-17). But there is no evidence that this psalm points to any particular situation.
And I pondered Jesus. Maybe this psalm was written to foreshadow Jesus’ experience with Judas. Judas, his close friend and one of the twelve, betrays him with a kiss. The most intimate of friendly greetings – a kiss – sends Jesus into the hands of those who would mock him, beat him and crucify him. (Matthew 27:47-49)
And I pondered how common betrayal is in our world. We don’t mean to, but we do it. We forget to be kind or to do the right thing. We choose ourselves instead of putting others needs ahead of our own. We share the secret, we make assumptions, we blame and point our fingers. Some small advantage presents itself and we lose our way, if only for a moment, and we turn our backs on those who trust us. And we justify it because it’s been done to us.
What did the psalmist do?
What did Jesus do?
What do we do?
The psalmist confessed his trust in God’s ability to rescue him. Listen in with me…”but I will call on God, and the Lord will rescue me. Morning, noon and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice. He ransoms me and keeps me safe from the battle waged against me, though many still oppose me…Give your burdens to the Lord and he will take care of you.” (Psalm 55:16-18, 22) Trouble didn’t stop when David called out to God, the betrayal still happened, the opposition kept coming. But David’s confidence in God was not shaken. He called out day and night! He expected God to hear him. He concludes the psalm with these words: “but I am trusting you to save me.” In spite of the crushing reality of treachery against him, he kept his eyes fixed on God. He allowed God to be bigger than his problem.
Jesus fell before the Father and cried out to him saying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Matthew 26:39) Jesus’ physical suffering equaled David’s as he tells the disciples, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:38) Luke tells us that he was in such agony that his sweat fell like drops of blood. (Luke 22:43-44). The aftermath of betrayal was not just emotional turmoil but real pain and suffering at the hands of men who disrespected him as a person in every imaginable way. And yet Jesus keeps his eyes on the Father. Hebrews 12:1-3 tell us that Jesus endured the shame and humility of the cross because he kept his eyes on the joy of overcoming death. And he did that for us.
I believe we fall before our Father with the same raw honesty as David and Jesus. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, we give our burdens to him –not once, but over and over again– trusting that he has a plan for whatever we are experiencing. It isn’t a once and done. David prayed morning, noon and night. Jesus prayed through the night. The Father carried both of them during the storm.
I haven’t even been close to losing my life as the result of betrayal. Life does have a way of throwing nasty curve balls. We disappoint one another. We betray our friends. And it isn’t just those people out there who cause the problem. I am a part of the problem! I contribute to the epidemic of unkindness and betrayal. Too often my eyes are fixed on me rather than on Him.
I don’t know what your particular trouble is today. I know it hurts and it feels overwhelming. The opposition is real. You have a choice. I know it doesn’t feel like you do, but you do. You can choose to stay in the fight, try to even the score, hold a grudge, plot revenge OR you can follow the example of David and Jesus. Fall before the Father, renewing your trust in His goodness, His sovereignty, His plan. You can give your burdens to the Lord, allow him to take care of you. It will mean dying to your own plans, but it doesn’t mean you are giving up. It will mean LIFE in a way you have only dreamed. It is living in full color, rather than black and white. It is living in peace in the midst of chaos.
I believe you can because I did. It isn’t easy. It doesn’t happen overnight or with one prayer. It is constant, daily choosing to allow him to care for me. Maybe today isn’t the day you are ready, but one day…..and He will always be waiting. He watches for you even now…
Until next time…
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.