Bible Studies on the Messianic Psalms
Psalm 55: The pattern of betrayal: Past, present and future (P2)
by I Gordon
We looked last time at the betrayal of Jesus through a couple of the prophetic Psalms. We looked specifically at the example in the life of David and how that gave us insight into the betrayal that Jesus would face. You may remember the key verse that Jesus Himself quoted and said must be fulfilled:
Psalms 41:9 Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
We saw last time that there was a betrayal within a betrayal. Firstly David was betrayed by his close friend and counsellor, Ahithophel. That alone would have been bad enough... but unfortunately it came in the context of the much larger, wider betrayal of David's own son, Absalom. Absalom wanted the throne. He wanted his father, David, gone. He wanted to be the top dog and make the decisions in the kingdom. So he used Ahithophel in this pursuit. Ahithophel, we saw, swapped sides easily enough but when he wasn't listened to he went home, put his things in order, and hung himself. Clearly he was not a happy man and that's not a good legacy to leave and be remembered by.
Now all this, as we saw, speaks prophetically of the Lord Jesus. With Judas, there was a betrayal within a much wider betrayal. There was a conspiracy within a larger conspiracy. At the moment of the betrayal we read in the gospels that Satan entered into Judas. Thus we see that even in Judas' betrayal, there, lurking in the shadows, is the puppet master... the one who is still doing all he can to conspire against the true king to achieve his ultimate goal which is to take the throne of God and be the Most High! Satan wants God's kingdom. He wants the throne just as Absalom desired David's throne.
A quick detour about prophetic revelation...
Now, what's interesting about these types of passages we have been looking at is that they don't necessarily just have one fulfillment. Let me take a quick detour and give you some examples. When I first became a Christian I learnt, and was fascinated by, Bible prophecy. (Not much has changed there!) The first ever Bible home group that I took as a young Christian was on the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. I'm not sure they understood exactly what I was saying (which may have been somehow related to the fact that I didn't know exactly what I was saying!) But I could see that God spoke through different people and prophets and made incredible and clear announcements of what was still to come. 
Then I began to learn that many of the stories that the Bible told were prophetic as well - they were types of something still to come. So, for example, Jesus told us that we can learn about the time of the end from how it was in the times of Noah and Lot. So Noah and Lot aren't just stories of something that took place all those many years ago (though they are that), but also contain prophetic insight of how things will be. Paul tells us that we can learn about the Christian life from the Israel's story of their exodus from Egypt and journey into the Promised Land.
So I learned about Bible prophecy. Then I learned about the prophetic stories. Then I learned about the repeated patterns of prophetic revelation. Some call this 'Midrash'; others call it 'fractals'. It basically means that with prophetic revelation there doesn't just have to be a prediction or story followed by one fulfillment. It can in fact have multiple fulfillments that repeatedly play out the same scenario until it has its ultimate fulfillment. 
Why say all this? Well, t he pattern is repeating!
We have been looking at this theme of betrayal in the life of David and the Messiah and without doubt it is a theme that is going to be played out again. We looked last time at how the initial betrayal of Satan was played out again in Absalom's betrayal of David. We also saw how this played out in a big way in the life of the Lord Jesus with the betrayal of Judas. But it doesn't stop there. As I studied this it struck me that this theme is played out in our own lives also and, as we shall see, on the global stage in the last days as well. So that's (after that long introduction) what we'll look at today - we'll look at a betrayal still to come and then look at Satan's goal for us today. In other words we'll look at the end time's prophetic implication of this betrayal as well as the daily personal implication. In other words... argh... you get it! Let's start with the prophetic end time's situation.
Beware the one with the smooth words
Let's look first of all at a Psalm that links the events of King David with what will play out with the nation of Israel. Let's revisit a Psalm that we read briefly from last time.
Psalms 55:12-14 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, Then I could bear it; Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, Then I could hide myself from him. (13) But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend; (14) We who had sweet fellowship together; walked in the house of God in the throng.
So in its context here is David speaking about his betrayal by Ahithophel that we read about last time. But it is more than that for it is this pattern I've been talking about that will still be played out. William MacDonald in the Believers Bible Commentary writes: ' Ahithophel was one of David's most trusted advisers who later led a defection to the usurping of Absalom. In this Psalm, we sense the extreme anguish of David's heart over this bitter blow. We can also read here something of the deep tides of emotion which surged through the Saviour's soul in connection with His betrayal by Judas. And the Psalm foreshadows the prayer of the remnant as they suffer under the conspiracy of the coming Antichrist.' What evidence do we have of this? Well, look at how the Psalm progresses:
Psalms 55:20-23 He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him; He has violated his covenant. (21) His speech was smoother than butter, But his heart was war; His words were softer than oil, Yet they were drawn swords. (22) Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. (23) But You, O God, will bring them down to the pit of destruction; Men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days. But I will trust in You.
Note that it speaks of this one violating the covenant and making war with those that were at peace with him. This is where things are leading to for the nation of Israel today. One is coming who will arise on the global stage with whom the nation of Israel will enter into a covenant - a peace agreement. But it is a covenant of death and this man will betray the nation of Israel. That is where we are heading. All the relentless pressure that continues to build upon the nation of Israel is leading to this. And look at the description given here of this man: His speech was smoother than butter, but his heart was war. His words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords. Beware the coming one who has the most persuasive and smooth sounding speech. When the Bible speaks about the coming Antichrist, the most common attribute that it speaks of concerns his speech and words. The scene is being set and the players are taking their positions. Even today Israel is being betrayed. Their greatest alley has long been the United States yet today many commentators are saying that this particular White House administration is the most anti-Israel there has ever been. Barak Obama may say he 'has Israel's back' but, like the one we read about here, his actions betray his words. The scene is being set. But notice also the instruction at the end of the Psalm to 'cast your burden upon the Lord for He will sustain you'. This applies individually to all Christians and will apply to the nation of Israel once, through the terrible times coming, that they turn their eyes again to their Messiah.
Who else spoke about this?
So did anyone else speak of this? Let's look at what the prophet Zechariah had to say about this for he linked the betrayal of Jesus with the betrayal of Israel that is still to come as well. God sometimes asked some seemingly odd things of His prophets to symbolize what was happening spiritually at the time. Hosea had to marry an adulterous woman and name his children 'not loved' and 'not my people'. For whatever reason, those names haven't caught on today.  Ezekiel had to lie on his side 390 days for the sins of Israel and then do another 40 day stint on his other side for the sins of Judah. And Isaiah... well, let's just say that he would have been pretty cold for three years!  Zechariah got off a little easier. God asked to Him to do a little role play. To cut a long story short, first of all he had to play the part of a good shepherd. He took his two staff's, favor and unity, and was a shepherd to the nation of Israel. But they despised him. So he took his staff called favor and broke it in two. Then he took his staff called unity and broke it as well. Finally, he asked for his wages.
Zechariah 11:12-14 I told them, "If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it." So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. (13) And the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter"--the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter. (14) Then I broke my second staff called Union, breaking the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
So they paid Zechariah his wages and valued him at 30 pieces of silver - the price of a slave in Israel. But in verse 13 we see that this all has far greater meaning than just the rejection of Zechariah as their shepherd for it is actually a rejection of God. God Himself is being valued at 30 pieces of silver. In fact God even gets sarcastic-- saying throw it to the potter 'that magnificent price' at which they valued me! This role play of the good shepherd that God got Zechariah to do is obviously prophetic of the Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd. He is the One that would be despised and valued at 30 pieces of silver for that was the price Judas received for the betrayal.
Matthew 27:3-7 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. (4) I have sinned, he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." "What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility." (5) So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. (6) The chief priests picked up the coins and said, "It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money." (7) So they decided to use the money to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners.
Now look at what God asked Zechariah to do next for his role playing days weren't over yet!
Zechariah 11:15-17 Then the LORD said to me, "Take again the equipment of a foolish shepherd. (16) For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hoofs. (17) Woe to the worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! May his arm be completely withered, his right eye totally blinded!
Here is the link between the rejection and betrayal of Jesus and the betrayal of Israel still to come. If they don't want a good shepherd, they'll get a wicked one. If they don't want the true, they will get the false. If they don't want one who cares, they will get one who devours. This has not been fulfilled yet but it speaks of the same one that we read about earlier in Psalm 55 who ' will put forth his hands against those who are at peace with him; He will violate his covenant. His speech will be smoother than butter, but his heart is war; His words will be softer than oil, Yet they will be drawn swords.' And as mentioned, all that is happening in the chaos of the Middle East and the abandonment of Israel by America's current administration is leading up to this day. The players are aligning and moving into position for this coming betrayal that will play out on the global stage.
Switching tacks... Betrayal on the personal level
I want to switch tacks now and look at this repeating theme of betrayal on a personal level. Satan isn't content with his own betrayal of God. And he isn't content just having his world leader in the last days to betray Israel. He wants you to betray and rebel against God as well. Did you know that? To explore this we need to revisit a passage that we read last time but look at it from a different angle.
2 Samuel 15:1-6 In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. (2) He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, "What town are you from?" He would answer, "Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel." (3) Then Absalom would say to him, "Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you." (4) And Absalom would add, "If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that he gets justice." (5) Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. (6) Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
You may remember from last time how we said that this passage about Absalom's betrayal of David teaches us about Satan's rebellion and betrayal of God at the beginning. Absalom was not content with just being the King's son - He wanted to be the King. In like manner, Satan was not content with his position as the anointed Cherub - He wanted to be like the Most High! The manner of their rebellion is the same as well. As Absalom started going from person to person to plant bad thoughts of the king and steal their hearts, so Satan went from angel to angel speaking ill of the Most High and managed to get one third to follow in his rebellion and betrayal. Now Satan's ways, whether through Absalom in the days of David or through Judah in the time of Jesus, remain the same. He is still trying to get people to betray God today. He doesn't give up. With that in mind, let's look again at his work through Absalom who, the Bible says, stole the hearts of Israel. Let's explore each verse:
1 In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him.
First of all we see that Absalom made himself out to be someone important, someone that had power and had something to offer. He had the look, the vehicles, the men... everything to look like he was the real deal. How many have already been suckered in by the god of this world going after the illusions of the real thing?
2 He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, "What town are you from?" He would answer, "Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel."
Absalom was after the king's subjects but he would target those with a complaint. He would target those that had some grievance or difficulty. He would find a weak spot. He would get up early to do so and likely still be doing it late at night! The voice of the usurper is always there if we are listening to him. Absalom would also attempt to befriend them. He seemed like he cared. But it was just a front.
3-4 Then Absalom would say to him, "Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you." And Absalom would add, "If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that he gets justice."
After targeting those with a complaint, he then talks their problem up! And then he brings in discouragement - 'That is so true - you've got a very valid complaint there... but alas, the king doesn't care. He isn't interested. No one is listening. He's busy. You aren't going to get justice with this king. You're just not. Of course, if I were your king then things would be different...' That is how Satan operates with believers struggling today as well. He will whisper his lies that God doesn't care and isn't listening. But they are just lies.
5-6 Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
Again we see this oh so caring Absalom who was right there with the people as opposed to the true king who seems removed. How many people go after what glitters in this temporal world because the true king can't be seen? Absalom tried to prevent people from getting to the true king (otherwise they would find him to be true and just) and this is what Satan does today. And so he stole the hearts of the men of Israel! Telling words!
How Satan worked in his betrayal of God is how he worked through Absalom in the day of David and it is how he works today to get even Christians to betray their loyalty to God. He will target a weak spot or a place where you have a complaint. He will tempt you to doubt the goodness of God. He will get you to try and doubt whether God is even listening when you pray. Have you ever had these thoughts? He may get you to ponder at times whether God is even just.
A real life example
Now there are certainly difficult things that happen in this world that we do not understand which the enemy exploits. I was talking to my cousin recently who has setup a facebook page to debate whether there is a God with some pretty staunch atheists. It all started because her brother, my cousin, is one of those staunch atheists. I haven't seen her for a while so I asked her how that was going. She said it isn't easy as some of them were writing some horrible personal things against her. But she also told me the background story of one of the atheists. He used to do youth work in a church. He was married but his wife was in a car crash suffering a brain injury that caused her to lose her memory. Like... all of her memory. After the accident she didn't even know her husband. After that the marriage didn't last and he became bitter at God because of it and now considers himself an atheist. Now that is a pretty full story and it is easy to see how the enemy can try to exploit such circumstances saying the types of things Absalom did here - 'God isn't just. He doesn't care. If He was good He wouldn't have allowed that to happen to your wife.' Unfortunately, this man listened to the lies. But it doesn't take something as radical as this story for believers to sometimes doubt the goodness of God or for the enemy to start whispering in your ear. Always remember that Satan has never been content just with his own betrayal. He is not content with getting a third of the angels to follow him and rebel against God. He is not content with getting Judas to betray Jesus or the coming Antichrist to betray Israel. He would like to cause as many betrayals of God as he can and he would like that to include you. You might think that the enemy, who is already defeated, would just give up. But he can't. Rebellion, betrayal, lies and destruction are his very nature. He knows nothing of faithfulness, truth, repentance or mercy.
'Betrayal' is not the nicest theme in the world but we cannot just stick our head in the sand and think that it is not relevant to us. It is... unfortunately. It happened to David, Jesus, and will also be a factor in the days leading up to the return of Jesus. When we read what the Bible says of the last days we read this:
Matthew 24:10 "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.
Luke 21:16 "But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 
So difficult days are coming! But so is Jesus Christ! We need to know God and know His character. God is love. He can be trusted. He can be trusted when things go well and also in the difficult times. In the days of King David, some started to doubt whether the King truly was just and good. Some swapped sides. Don't be like them. The Bible says 'taste and see that the Lord is good.' In good times and bad He has been good to me. I'm even more amazed when I don't feel like I deserve the goodness of God and still see it. That is when God amazes me the most. Satan would like us to believe his lies and get between us and God as Absalom got between the people and king David. Be aware of his ways and be true to God... in good times and bad.