The Song of the Betrayed. . . or what to sing in the face of betrayal.

April 8, 2014

Psalm 55

Give ear unto my prayer, O God; do not ignore my plea;
My thoughts are troubled and distraught; Lord, hear and answer me.

For at the voice of enemies, and wicked pressure great;
I am distraught with suffering; they taunt me in their hate.

My heart’s in anguish within me; death’s terrors on me fall.
On me comes trembling, fear and dread with overwhelming pall.

“O that I had wings, like a dove,” I said, “then would I flee;
I’d find a place where I could rest, and settled safely be.

Then I would wander – far I’d fly, and in the desert stay;
From storm and tempest I would haste to shelter far away.

Confound the wicked, O Lord God, and do their tongues divide;
For in the city violence and strife there I have spied.

For day and night they prowl about upon the city walls;
Abuse and malice are within – and mischief daily calls.

Abundant wickedness is there within her inward part;
And from her streets oppression and deceit do not depart.

It was no foe that me reproached, for that I could endure;
Nor one who hates me, who does boast – I’d hide from him for sure.

But it is you – companion, friend with whom I walked along;
We had sweet fellowship, and went to God’s house with the throng.

Let death now seize them, let them go down to the grave alive;
For wickedness does much abound, among them it does thrive.

I’ll call on God: the Lord saves me; I’ll pray, and make a noise
at ev’ning, morning, and at noon; and He will hear my voice.

He ransoms me unharmed, and saves me from the battle waged;
From many that oppose me, who don’t want to be assuaged.

The Lord forever who’s enthroned afflicts them with His rod;
Those men who never change their ways, who have no fear of God.

For my companion is not true, he turns upon his friend;
He violates his covenant, unfaithful in the end.

More smooth than butter were his words, while in his heart was war;
His speeches were more soft than oil, yet they were like a sword.

Cast all your cares upon the Lord, and He will you sustain;
He’ll never let the righteous fall; unshaken you’ll remain.

But You, O God, will bring them down; the wicked overthrow;
And in destruction’s lowest pit at last will lay them low.

The bloody and deceitful men shall not live half their days.
But as for me, with confidence I’ll trust in You always.


Song #55 offers us the sad rehearsal for the Garden of Gethsemane, the fated garden of betrayal.

Anyone who has experienced betrayal knows the pain of this song. It brings pure anguish, dread, overwhelming sadness and yes, anger. Song #55 is bitter medicine for the betrayed; yet it is pure gall for the traitor. The sentence for betraying one’s country is death, but the punishment for one who betrays their friend is far worse. It is suicide. Betrayal is an irreversible wound both because of the way it injures the one betrayed and for the sad way it destroys the betrayer. Adultery is a form of betrayal. While devastating for the one betrayed, it inflicts intractable pain on the adulterer. Betrayal is a form of adultery without the solace of another lover.

Get a picture in your mind of Judas Iscariot hanging from the tree, swinging back and forth like the pendulum of a clock that will never stop ticking. We hear it to the present day. The problem with Judas is not that he could not be forgiven and even reconciled. It is that he could not forgive himself.

I think this is the compassionate source of Jesus words to Judas, “Do what you have to do,” and of his prayer, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” The betrayer willfully wraps herself in the warrant of her difficult act. At the same time she unwittingly wraps herself in an inescapable straight jacket of self justification such that it  ultimately destroys her.

The problem with Judas is he never got to see the tragic mercy of the cross. For at the same time the Betrayed One bore the wounds of betrayal, he also took on himself the wounds of the betrayer. The mystery of redemption is how the Betrayed One will offer up his own life for the sake of the betrayer who took his own life.

This is perhaps the most difficult place of the cross. It is too deep to fathom. We can only behold.

It is time to practice the song now. Gethsemane is just around the corner.  CLICK HERE.


J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at

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