Monday, July 28, 2008

...none are such real enemies as false friends

For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
then I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend.

-Psalms 55:12-13

V12: The reader will do well to observe how accurately the psalmist described his own Psalm when he said, "I mourn in my complaint, "or rather "give loose to my thoughts, "for he proceeds from one point of his sorrow to another, wandering on like one in a maze, making few pauses, and giving no distinct intimations that he is changing the subject. Now from the turbulent city his mind turns to the false hearted councillor.

For is was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it. It was not an open foe, but a pretended friend; he went over to the other camp and tried to prove the reality of his treachery by calumniating his old friend. None are such real enemies as false friends. Reproaches from those who have been intimate with us, and trusted by us, cut us to the quick; and they are usually so well acquainted with our peculiar weaknesses that they know how to touch us where we are most sensitive, and to speak so as to do us most damage. The slanders of an avowed antagonist are seldom so mean and dastardly as those of a traitor, and the absence of the elements of ingratitude and treachery renders them less hard to bear. We can bear from Shimei what we cannot endure from Ahithophel. Neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him.

We can find a hiding place from open foes, but who can escape from treachery? If our enemies proudly boast over us we nerve our souls for resistance, but when those who pretended to love us leer at us with contempt, whither shall we go?

Our blessed Lord had to endure at its worst the deceit and faithlessness of a favoured disciple; let us not marvel when we are called to tread the road which is marked by his pierced feet.

V13: But it was thou. He sees him. The poetic fury is upon him, he sees the traitor as though he stood before him in flesh and blood. He singles him out, he points his finger at him, he challenges him to his face. But thou. Et tu, Brute. And thou, Ahithophel, art thou here? Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man? A man mine equal. Treated by me as one of my own rank, never looked upon as an inferior, but as a trusted friend. My guide, a counsellor so sage that I trusted thine advice and found it prudent to do so. And mine acquaintance, with whom I was on most intimate terms, who knew me even as I knew him by mutual disclosures of heart.

No stranger occasionally conversed with, but a near and dear friend admitted to my secret fellowship. It was fiendish treason for such a one to prove false hearted. There was no excuse for such villainy. Judas stood very much in this relation to our Lord, he was treated as an equal, trusted as treasurer, and in that capacity often consulted with. He knew the place where the Master was wont to spend his solitude; in fact, he knew all the Master's movements, and yet he betrayed him to his remorseless adversaries.

How justly might the Lord have pointed at him and said, But thou; but his gentler spirit warned the son of perdition in the mildest manner, and had not Iscariot been tenfold a child of hell he would have relinquished his detestable purpose.

-charles spurgeon


Tak178 said...

Nothing can be worse than betraying a brother, sister, or friend. Everyone has felt betrayal, but from one in whom you trust so implicitly, the implications are disastrous.


SJ Camp said...

i agree. It is the worst thing isn't it?

These verses and Spurgeon's commentary really hit home with me.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Debbie said...

Thank you for this.

I’ve just finished reading R.C. Sproul’s “The Invisible Hand” (Do all things really work for good?). What a wonderful book to give clarity and focus in difficult times when our view may become blurry and our trust in God diminished because of the immediacy of our pain and circumstances. I find this kind of “clear thinking” from Spurgeon (and Sproul) invaluable when life hurts, and without a doubt, betrayal really hurts.

Carla said...

Betrayal is such a deeply painful experience.

In my own life I was betrayed by my best "friend" but didn't know it (or learn the details of it) until many years later. Her betrayal affected so many people that it still amazes me so many years later, just how lives and how many lives were affected - and how it still feels nearly 30 years later when I think about it.

Like the old saying goes, one man's sin never affects just that one man, and this particular incident was a prime example of that.

Deb_B said...

Carla specifically, and the all of you as well, thanks for your honesty - 'tis greatly appreciated on this end.

While I am personally without excuse for handling it the way I did, almost a decade ago I wandered off after just such a devastating betrayal.

I never questioned God, of course, not ever, but I just didn't want anything to do, overtly that is, with other professing Christians (and that's sinful, which is why I'm without excuse - you can't just warm a pew, withdrawn from any active participation in the Body of Christ, hide away in your own little prayer closet, etc. - again, it's sinful and I'm without excuse for handling it that way for more than a few years.)

I can't emphasize the "without excuse" on my end enough. What I did certainly wasn't self-denying and while I forgave in my prayers - asked and pleaded with God even as I spoke words of forgiveness in those prayers, to make it real in my day to day life - I wasn't living out the mandate not to take in account a wrong suffered.

God is faithful and He keeps His own as only He can. I don't know what or where my once long-time friend/betrayer is today, but I can honestly say when I pray for that individual, God has worked real forgiveness in my heart and life and drawn me back to a full right relationship with Himself ... and when we're in the center of our most holy God's will, everything else is right in our hearts and lives, too.

...and, yep, I'd much druther smite the back icon in my browser than the publish this comment one, in case you're wondering.