Betrayal, Shame and Arrogance

Psalm 55:12 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him:

13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.

14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.


Proverbs 16:28 A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.

Proverbs 18:8 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.


Proverbs 17:9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separated very friends.


MEMORY VERSE: Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:16; 18


CENTRAL THOUGHT: Even very close friends can be separated by selfish, hurtful actions such as betrayal, shame, self-exaltation, talebearing, or unforgiveness. To keep a close friendship, one must continually cover faults with love, keep the covenant of trust and loyalty, and live in a spirit of forgiveness.




Psalm 55:12 “Reproached”: say sharp things against; defy; taunt; rail against; insult. “Magnify”: rise up against; exalt oneself.

Psalm 55:13 “Mine equal”: from a root which means arranged in a row; as in the same row as I; in the same rank or importance in society. “My guide”: intimate friend; chief friend. “Mine acquaintance”: from a root meaning “to know”; translated in Job 19:14 as “familiar friend.”

Psalm 55:14 “In company”: with the throng.

Proverbs 16:28 and 18:8 “Whisperer”: from a root which means roll to pieces; slanderer; talebearer. “Wounds”: from a primitive root which means to burn in; also, dainty morsels, a simile of a slanderer’s words; figuratively, bits greedily swallowed that burn or rankle. Some “take the verse to describe the avidity with which people swallow in tales of scandal. They find their way to the innermost recesses of man’s nature” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).

Proverbs 17:9 “He that covereth a transgression”: he who “passes by and buries in oblivion a transgression that hath been committed against himself; or that concealeth, as far as he may, other men’s faults against their friends or neighbours” (Benson Commentary). He who “does not strike on the great bell when his neighbour has sinned however grievously against him, does not in a scandal-loving manner make much ado about it, and takes care not thereby to widen the breach between men who stand near to one another, but endeavours by a reconciling, soothing, rectifying influence, to mitigate the evil, instead of making it worse” (Keil and Delitzsch). “Seeketh love”: finds or obtains the best way, or takes the best course in preserving love and friendship. “Repeateth a matter”: brings it up again and again; returns to old grievances.

Leviticus 19:16 “Talebearer”: “a trader, a peddler, and is here applied to the person who travels about dealing in scandal and calumny, getting the secrets of every person and family, and retailing them wherever he goes” (Clarke’s Commentary). “Thou shalt not go after the slanderous (literally, triple) tongue,” which means, “slander affects three persons: the slanderer, the slandered one, and anyone who repeats the slander” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges). “Stand against the blood of thy neighbour”: to stand silently when you know the truth; or endanger the life of an innocent man by bearing false witness.




The passage in Psalm 55 probably refers to the dark time in David’s life when his son Absalom revolted against him and gathered a growing number of Israelites to support him and take the kingship from him. Ahithophel, David’s close friend and advisor, fell in with Absalom and advised him against David. After another friend, Hushai, in loyalty to David, defeated Ahithophel’s counsel, Ahithophel hung himself in shame (II Samuel 17:1-23).

These verses also seem to point to Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Judas had been chosen just as all the other disciples had been. He had walked with Jesus into the temple and heard Him teach. He had been sent out to heal, cast out devils, and preach alongside the others. No doubt he, at first, had rejoiced in the good news of the kingdom, as Jesus described in the parable of the sower, and had begun to bear fruit, but the love of money, as a poisonous weed, gradually choked the growth of true riches in his heart. The sorrow expressed so poignantly by the writer was, in prophecy, wrung from the heart of Jesus as He watched His chosen friend slip away. Judas also hung himself in shame and despair.

The verses from Proverbs contain word pictures which so aptly describe talebearing: roll to pieces, morsels greedily swallowed, burn, peddler, triple tongue. These are just a few verses from an often-repeated theme in Proverbs, that of the use of the tongue. Life and death are in the tongue’s power; its wounds can be like a piercing sword—these ideas show the negative influence. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life; the sweetness of the lips increase learning— these show the positive influence of the tongue.

—Angela Gellenbeck



  1. To what two Bible examples may the verses from Psalm 55 refer?
  2. Discuss the hurt caused by gossip.
  3. According to the Word Definitions, what does it mean to “repeat a matter”?
  4. What New Testament scriptures refer to covering transgression?
  5. How may we apply these scriptures to both our relationships with earthly friends and our friendship with Christ?




The pathos and love expressed in David’s lament is almost too much; when we extend it to Jesus’s sorrow over the unfaithfulness of His friend—well, no wonder Isaiah said it like this: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” No doubt many a friend, pastor, husband, wife, or parent has watched someone beloved walk away. Some have described it as being worse than death. For indeed, the very closest earthly friendship of all is in marriage, and very close to that is the friendship between believers.

It would do us well, then, to solemnly consider the things which cause the demise of a friendship. We would be more careful with our words. We would guard more closely the affections of our hearts. We would more deliberately and positively and proactively do the things that safeguard the relationship.

Hanging onto little things, and bringing them up over and over again—is it worth the destruction of a marriage? The whispered conversation, hasty email or text message; the decision to “vent” on social media—what price will I pay for such folly? What will it cost me if I do not cover the human failures and foibles of my friend with grace and forgiveness? The one I am to love as my other self?

I can think of no more lethal whispering than that of Satan’s whisperings to the soul; here and there, a little doubt sown, a little scorn, 41 a little resentment. He is accurately described as the accuser of the brethren. He will accuse Jesus to you. He’ll accuse the saints of God and your own heart, if he can. Don’t allow the whisperings of the enemy to kill your sweet friendship with Jesus or His people.

—Angela Gellenbeck




True friendship is a rare and precious gift. It is worth taking the time to establish and cherish. The wise man said, “He that hath friends must show himself friendly.” There are many ways in which you can build a friendship:

– Give of yourself freely.

– Overlook faults.

– Forgive quickly.

– Rejoice in success.

– Comfort in failure.

– Be vulnerable.


There are also pitfalls to avoid that can destroy or tear down a friendship:


– Being self-centered.

– Giving liberal criticism.

– Being jealous of accomplishments.

– Constantly reminding of past hurts.

– Always being too busy.

– Failing to encourage or compliment.

I am glad that Jesus gave us his perfect example of friendship. He called his disciples his friends and he spoke of Lazarus as his friend. There was also the disciple John who leaned on the bosom of Jesus at the last supper. Jesus taught that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend. He put these words into action when he willingly died for us on Calvary. Why? Because he is our friend. What a friend we have in Jesus!

—LaDawna Adams