Psalm 35: 11. Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about. 12 They repay me evil for good and leave me like one bereaved. 13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, 14I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother. 15 But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; assailants gathered against me without my knowledge. They slandered me without ceasing. 16 Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked; they gnashed their teeth at me. 17 How long, Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their ravages, my precious life from these lions. 18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.”
My introduction to Shakespeare, a literary experience which didn’t survive “O” Levels, began with the play Julius Caesar. I’d like to say that more of the work made a lasting impression but that wouldn’t be true. Three words though I remember “Et tu Brute”, Caesar’s words when he discovered his friend Brutus to be among his assassins, “you too Brutus?”
Surely there is nothing more painful emotionally than to discover that a friend or acquaintance is among those viciously attacking us, or disowns us when others are. It is a sense of betrayal felt by Jesus himself.
For David things seem to be going from bad to worse, you can expect no mercy from an enemy but to be betrayed by those who you had treated well and with grace is a particularly nasty turn. Where has he to go for help and comfort? For David in this situation he must have felt increasingly alone and his growing desperation is felt as we read the verses below. No wonder then that in verse 17 he cries with more urgency for God to move, and we sense a level of bewilderment that God hasn’t answered.
Whether we’ve ever been in exactly the same position as the Psalmist one thing is sure we have either been or will be in tight spot when our prayers seem to rebound unanswered, at least for a time. It is a test of patience and faith. There is a time to call urgently on the Lord, but there is a time also when the best, the only thing we can do is cling to him in faith trusting that we will emerge from the danger whatever form that takes but knowing that ultimately nothing threatens our security or strips away our hope in Christ. ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ Jesus (Jn16:33)