I really hope that none of the people who read this devotional can really empathize with David. Hopefully you’ve never had a “friend” like the one described here, but to some degree all of us can identify with the psalmist, as we’ll see.
Who is this treacherous “friend”? We’re not totally sure, but standard interpretations point to either his own son Absalom or Ahithophel (if you like, you can read the sordid story here). To summarize it briefly, his own son Absalom conspired against him and plotted a coup, while aided by one of his closest advisers Ahithophel. But the actual identity of the false friend doesn’t really concern us today.
What were the characteristics of this man? He was a close friend of David, possibly the best friend he had. They shared many intimate moments together, where David bared his soul to him. Worst of all, they'd worshiped next to each other. These men had prayed together and approached God together. This man was very charismatic, very adept at persuading David that he only had the king’s best interests at heart.
And apparently all this was a façade. While speaking kind, comforting, and encouraging words to him, this treacherous piece of filth was plotting against him. How poignant is David’s lament: “If an enemy were insulting me,I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend.”
Like I said at the beginning, I really hope that you can’t identify fully with David here. I hope you’ve never had someone actively plotting against you and who stabbed you in the back like this. But even if you haven’t (like me), then you can at least relate to it to a much lesser degree. Haven’t you had a friend who sorely disappointed you? Someone who broke their promise to you? Someone who failed to keep to a commitment?
Of course you have, and I’m sure you’ve failed others as well. None of us are completely guilt-free in this area. There’s good news, however. First, we need to remember that while every person in whom we trust and confide is a sinner, our Savior is not. When he says something, he means it. When he says that he’s with us to the end of the age, he will be. When he says that he’s preparing a place for us and will return to take us there, you can count on it.
In the meantime, when people disappoint us (as they inevitably will), we need to follow David’s example. He was surrounded by enemies, and among his associates he literally didn’t know whom he could trust. In those darkest hours, this was what he did: “As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. . .Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. . .But as for me, I trust in you.” Confide in him. Cast your burdens upon him. Call out to him when all seems hopeless. Sounds good to me.
Lord Jesus, you are my one true friend. I’ll always be grateful for the companions you’ve put into my life, but I know that only you can always be trusted. Thank you.