Psalm 53.3
Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt;
   there is no one who does good,
   not even one.

Reflection: Praying Through Betrayal and Failure
By John Tillman

Today we see three Psalms in which David is dealing with betrayal and failure.

He is betrayed by Saul. He is betrayed by Doeg. Later, he is even specifically betrayed by the people of a city in which he is hiding from Saul.

David has failed to please the king, failed to heal the king’s madness with his prayers or his musical ministry, and failed to protect his allies and the men and families who are with him on the run.

In some ways the artistic license of the Psalms allows them to be a truer history than the books that record these events. The narrators of 1st and 2nd Samuel and 1st Kings are limited to facts and observable happenings. In the poetry of David we see deeper. When David’s response is dignified sorrow and grief, the psalms show us his violent anger and desire for revenge. When David seems confident and decisive, in the psalms we see that he is doubtful and questioning.

Today we pray a prayer, combining passages from each of these psalms.

Betrayal and Failure

Our culture favors the boastful.
(even when we claim not to)
But you do not, Lord.

   Why do you boast all day long,
You who practice deceit,
 You love evil rather than good,
  falsehood rather than speaking the truth.
You love every harmful word,
   you deceitful tongue!

May we respond to boasts with humility, to deceit with the truth, to evil with good, and to harm with healing words of comfort and love.

The fool says in his heart,
   “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
   there is no one who does good.

God looks down from heaven
   on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
   any who seek God.
Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt;
   there is no one who does good,
   not even one.

Arrogant foes are attacking me;
   ruthless people are trying to kill me—
   people without regard for God.

Surely God is my help;
   the Lord is the one who sustains me.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling… — Psalm 43.3

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 16 (Listen – 6:59) 
Psalm 52-54 (Listen – 3:18)

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Read more about In the Face of Betrayal
Jesus was familiar with the entire spectrum of betrayal.
He was betrayed on a national level.
He was betrayed on a broad, societal level.
He was betrayed on an intimate and personal level.

Read more about Prayer for Enemies
Let us pray with renewed commitment for our enemies, our villains, our heretics, our corrupt officials, our attackers, and those who scoff at the mention of prayer.