The Passion in the Psalms: Psalm 41:7-12
3rd Wednesday in Lent
The Passion in the Psalms
Even My Close Friend Has Lifted Up His Heel Against Me
Text: Psalm 41:7-12
King David likely wrote the words of Psalm 41 in reference to one of two friends. Ahithophel was an advisor to David who abandoned him and joined ranks with David’s son Absalom who was leading a rebellion. The other possibility was later on in life when close friend and military general Joab left David to support a plot against David’s son Solomon.
We aren’t sure of the exact reference in history, but there are some things of which we are certain: David was in pain. David was in anguish. He felt alone and abandoned. Not only did he have many enemies, but one of his dear friends was now against him!
There is also one more thing of which we are certain. God used these real life events and David’s anguished pen to perfectly prophesy about David’s greater Son, the Son of God. This real life event became a type, or a picture of a greater real life event fulfilled by a greater King—Jesus.
To hear the words of the Savior through David almost hurts. Our hearts break as we see Jesus in the Garden. We left him last week in Gethsemane with chalky-white knuckles, hands clenched in fervent prayer, and blood dripping down his brow. He knew exactly what was about to happen. He knew exactly how much it would hurt. He knew exactly how many sins he would carry and how painful hell would be. Oh, dearest Jesus! What anxiety! What anguish!
This week the knots in our stomachs tighten as we see these words from David’s life fulfilled in the life of Christ. It got worse. The amount of opposition against Jesus rose. These weren’t people who were annoyed by Jesus or who avoided Jesus. They hated Jesus. They were enemies of Jesus. Verse 7: “All my enemies whisper together against me.” The Pharisees and others hated him so much that they whispered painful plots against Jesus.
The verse continues: “They imagine the worst for me, saying, ‘A vile disease has beset him; he will never get up from the place where he lies.’” In their devious devising those who hated Jesus imagined his downfall. They imagined him dying. They imagined him destroyed by death and never getting up from a tomb.
It nearly burns our ears to hear! How could you hate Jesus? How could you plot and conspire for Jesus to die? How could you imagine that your life would only be better if only Jesus were not in it?
Yet two millennia later things aren’t much different. Those who hate Jesus burn with a passion just as hot as that of his first enemies. These enemies purposefully poke at the “Jesus fish” by putting legs on it, plastering it on their bumpers, and promoting evolution. They mercilessly mock Jesus and the standard of morality he established from the very beginning. These Jesus-haters look for ways to take away the freedom to worship him. They look for ways to discourage those who worship him. Sometimes the enemies of Jesus are enemies in the very literal sense as they strap bombs to themselves or crash airplanes in the name of “Holy War” against Jesus.
Oh, dearest Jesus! How many his enemies! How great his opposition! How great his pain! And, if only it stopped there!
The obvious opposition wasn’t the only enemy. Joining that band of marauding murderers entering Gethsemane was the most unexpected foe. Again, King David’s real life anguish became King Jesus’ real life anguish. Verse 9: “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Had he not also been God, it would have shattered Jesus’ heart to see Judas with this hateful horde.
Judas! Why? You followed Jesus for three years! He never did any harm to you! He never harmed anyone! He only showed perfect love and compassion! Even as Jesus knew that you were skimming off the top and stealing from the money purse, he still trusted you!
Judas! Just hours before you sat with the Lord and your dear friends in the Upper Room! He stooped down in humble love and washed your feet! He broke bread with you and ate Passover with you! He even warned you about what you were plotting! He gave you a chance to stop! He still lovingly cared for your soul! And now you come and betray him for a few pieces of silver? And now you come and betray your dear friend with a kiss? How could you!
Yet two millennia later things aren’t much different. The nearest and the dearest to Jesus still betray him and “lift up their heels against” him. We who bear the name of God and of Christ find ourselves using his name vainly in our conversations. We who devote ourselves to years, even a lifetime, of following him so quickly follow different paths when they seem easier and more pleasurable.
We scoff, “Judas! How could you? Thirty pieces of silver?” Yet we gladly and greedily skim off the top of our God-given blessings. A bigger car, an iPod or iPhone, satellite TV, a cruise to the Bahamas—these are the things we would rather give our first and our best to.
He even warns us! He even tells us what to watch out for! Yet we still betray our dearest Jesus for a bit of worldly- or self-gratification? Yes, even the closest friends to Jesus—those whom he washed in his very own blood, those whom he bought with his death, and gave victory to with his resurrection—even we blood-bought friends of Christ betray him with daily defiance.
So we see our Savior: oppressed by opposition, hated by enemies, betrayed by friends, and alone in the Garden of Gethsemane carrying the weight and sin of the world. Oh, dearest Jesus!
But no enemy could truly detain him. No anguish could retain him. And no Satan could restrain him. With prayers to and strength from the Father, the Savior would carry on. Verse 10: “But you, O Lord, have mercy on me; raise me up, that I may repay them.”
These enemies would continue to rise against him, beating him, mocking him, even crucifying him. Yet what is the first way that he “repaid these enemies?” He prayed from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” What did he do for all those who hated him, for the closest friends who abandoned him and betrayed him? He cried out from the depths of hell, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” What did he do for the worst of sinners, including me? He mustered strength to say, “It is finished,” and then bowed his head and died.
Yes, surely those who continue to oppose and hate Jesus will be repaid. His Judgment Day gavel will crash down and they all will find an eternity of repayment in the fiercest flames of hell. But for the sinner who comes to Jesus soaked in tears of sorrow and repentance, the loving Savior wipes away tears and gladly grants forgiveness. Those who have betrayed Jesus have a new status—beloved of Jesus.
Our hearts ache as we see the lonely Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane, hated by enemies and abandoned by friends. Yet deep inside we smile, for we know these enemies could not and would not win. With divine power, Jesus knew the same. Verse 11: “I know that you are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me.” No plots, no plans, no ploys; no enemies, no opposition, no betraying friends; no demon or devil could ever triumph over the God-Man Jesus Christ.
They could not and they did not. For the humble King who bowed his head in death was raised again as the glorious King of righteousness, peace, and power. The glorious King has ascended to the heavens and now sits on his eternal throne. Verse 12: “In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.” There on his throne he shall reign in glory as King of kings and Lord of lords forever and ever.
This evening we see a sorrowful, sad, lonely, and abandoned Jesus writhing in pain and anguish. How many his enemies! Even his dear friend betrayed him! Yet the mighty God humbled himself to be subjected to these enemies, to serve us with his death, and to save us for eternity.
Christ, the Life of all the living, Christ, the Death of death, our foe,
Who, thyself for me once giving To the darkest depth of woe-
Through thy sufferings, death, and merit I eternal life inherit.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be, Dearest Jesus, unto thee!
Posted on March 7, 2012, in Church, Sermons and tagged Ahithophel, Betrayal, Church, David, Enemies, Garden of Gethsemane, Gethsemane, Jesus, Joab, Judas, Lent, Passion, Prophecy, Psalm 41, Psalms, Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.