Have you ever been betrayed by someone? Someone close to you? If you have, you know how David was feeling at this point in his life. Amnon has raped his half-sister. Absalom has plotted against and killed Amnon to avenge his sister. His top military official, Joab, has schemed to bring Abaslom back to Jerusalem after killing Amnon. Then to top it all off, Absalom schemes to take the throne from David through treachery and shrewdness.
So David writes Psalm 55, the cry of one who has been betrayed by those closest to him. Again, I am struck by the call David puts out to God for vengeance. This is not he first time that David uses this language in the Psalms, and it won’t be the last. Repeatedly, David calls on God to act on his behalf in defeating his enemies, asking God to bring everything from humiliation to death and destruction down on them. David repeatedly showed a very strong reluctance in his life to defend himself or seek vengeance against those who did him wrong. He shows this most strongly while Saul is seeking to kill him and David refuses to raise his hand against Saul. Instead, he pleads with God to be the one to enact justice.
Perhaps David did not trust his own motives or emotions in dealing with these situations. I think we have all been in situations when we have spoken or acted in vengeance only to realize later that our action or word was worse than the offending incident. David displays a very godly attitude in these moments, recognizing that God is judge, that he is truly righteous and truly understands the fullness of the situation. Only that perspective gives God the right to act and work accordingly.
It is also a sign that David truly respected God as sovereign. He put the responsibility for acting on God’s shoulders, something that perhaps we could and should learn from. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” is something that God utters (Hebrews 10:30) but it is also something he displays repeatedly throughout the Old Testament. God is the judge, it is his right to repay the wicked for their transgressions, not ours. It is our right to bring our petitions before God and then leave it with him to deal with.
The other thing that I would point out is this: even in their betrayal, David does not hold a grudge against these people. He mourns fully and deeply when Absalom is killed (spoiler alert). He had no desire to harm Abaslom or hold a grudge against him. If we truly let God be the Sovereign Judge, then we would not hold grudges either.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: 2 Samuel 16-18