My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.
This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.
I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.
They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him; he will not rise again from where he lies.”
Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
But you, O LORD, be gracious to me, and raise me up, that I may repay them!
In our last post we spoke of a rejection that we as believers may experience in our walk with the Crucified One.
This portion of the Psalm continues the enemies efforts to destroy King David (and the greater King David).
Verse 8 speaks of the slander and evil desire of the enemy. When the passage speaks of “a deadly thing poured out on him”, I would like to consider, in my humble opinion, a more literal, descriptive rendering of the phrase. I refer you to a translation by John N. Darby, a Bible translation first published in 1890, which was intended by the author for private study, in that he maintained the Hebrew and Greek structure at the cost of readability.
A thing of Belial cleaveth fast unto him; and now that he is laid down, he will rise up no more. – Psalm 41:8 DBY
The Hebrew term translated Belial, for many of my readers may be recognizable. It speaks of worthlessness or of no profit, and refers to that which is evil, wicked and ungodly. Some Bible scholars consider the “thing” of Belial as that of a disease, and David’s description of this evil disease “clinging” to him exhibits the word picture of metal being poured out and clinging to its mold. This evil, worthless sickness clung to David.
My question to the reader is this. Is David physically sick, or is he continuing with his theme of reputation destruction that we spoke of in our earlier blog? You see, the term “thing of Belial” may also be translated as “a word of Belial” and may refer to destructive slander and reproach. Is David describing an effort by his enemies to destroy his reputation and therefore take the power of the throne from him?
I admit this is a difficult verse to understand, but when we consider verse nine, and the connection of the friend lifting his heel against him, it makes sense that this is not a physical sickness being referred to here.
Verse nine speaks of David’s familiar friend. A friend that typified wisdom, peace and soundness, one that David depended on for counsel. This friend is commonly understood to be Ahithophel, the wisest of David’s counsellors. Ahithophel turned traitor to David, joining David’s son’s revolt, counselling Absalom on how to destroy David.
Why this traitorous action on the part of Ahithophel? Years ago, as I was reading through the Old Testament, I found that Ahithophel was the grandfather of Bathsheba. This interrelated relationship within the court of David was surprising to me, and it offered a reason for Ahithophel’ s traitorous turn.
You see, during the mid point of David’s 40 year reign over Israel, he fell into sin. As his army was out gaining new territory, David stayed back. David stayed back and fell down! A bit of background may help here.
Some scholars place David’s age at approx. 50. Bathsheba’s father, Eliam, served with David as a mighty man must surely have been with the armies. Bathsheba thus must have been at least a generation younger than David. A suggested age of Bathsheba when David first “eyed” her is very early twenties. If so, David’s adultery with Bathsheba was of an older man, the King of Israel, forcing himself on a young woman.
Seeing this scenario, I could well imagine Ahithophel’ s bitterness of this sexual sin, bringing reproach on his granddaughter, and of the death of a godly husband for Bathsheba, all at the hands of his King. This act of treachery on the part of David on Ahithophel’ s family line may have been the seeds of revolt David refers to in this Psalm.
With this possibility, we can see Ahithophel’s justification for the actions he took in his turning from his King. Was it a righteous act? I can’t see that, but in Ahithophel’s mind, he may have had ample emotional impetus to cause him to turn.
Yet, when we think of the Greater King David, how can we consider Judas’ rebellion. Jesus sought to rein him in on a number of occasions, and even at the end, in the garden, spoke to Judas as friend.
Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. – Matthew 26:50
What did Jesus do to deserve this traitorous action on the part of Judas? Simply put, Jesus received adoration.
The setting is Jesus and his disciples at Simon the lepers house, during which a woman anointed His body for burial. Of course no-one else understood what was going on during this act of adoration, but Jesus informed them of His acceptance. This simple act of adoration, from a woman using her own “very expensive ointment”, caused a surprising reaction from some in the room.
Lets read the passage.
Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.”- Matthew 26:6-9
Notice that all the disciples were indignant. Wasteful! What about the poor?
Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. Matthew 26:14-15
But Judas was a man of action. He acted on this indignation. His reaction to the adoration of the woman was to allow a traitorous act. Through his walk with the disciples, he had been known to pilfer a coin or two. Now the idol of greed was demanding action from his servant, and Judas obeyed.
Remember, in all this, Jesus did nothing of fault, unlike, it may be argued his ancestor David had deserved by committing adultery with Bathsheba and shaming Ahithophel’s family name. Jesus simply received what is due to Him, in the anointing of His body for burial.
How twisted this story is, in that an unknown woman is honored, and a chosen disciple brought to utter shame. Jesus’ familiar friend, one He had counselled and taught for three years, became a traitor. Judas betrayed his Master without cause, without any justification, without any deserved action on the part of the Greater King David. Jesus acted out of love, even for the disciple who turned on Him, calling him friend as He was being betrayed.
This psalm speaks of the pain David experienced as his counsellor betrayed him, yet he may have been simply reaping what he sowed years earlier. Jesus reaped what we sowed, in that Judas’ act of betrayal was completely based out of his own sinful desires, and might I say, our own sinful desires.
I used to think this passage corresponded with Jesus betrayal. I see now, it is more than a simple reoccurrence of David’s suffering, but a contrast of the betrayal a sinful man (David) reluctantly received against the betrayal the Sinless Man willingly accepted.
He is utterly good, and deserving of our allegiance. May we honor His name in all we do.
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.
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