David’s emotions are spilling out in Psalm 55 concerning his enemies. His description of his adversaries and the feelings aroused by them are certainly common.
1 Listen to my prayer, O God.
Do not ignore my cry for help!
2 Please listen and answer me,
for I am overwhelmed by my troubles.
3 My enemies shout at me,
making loud and wicked threats.
They bring trouble on me
and angrily hunt me down.
4 My heart pounds in my chest.
The terror of death assaults me.
5 Fear and trembling overwhelm me,
and I can’t stop shaking.
6 Oh, that I had wings like a dove;
then I would fly away and rest!
7 I would fly far away
to the quiet of the wilderness. Interlude
8 How quickly I would escape—
far from this wild storm of hatred.
Now there’s a twist in the story. Maybe we think that he’s talking about those nasty Philistines, or the army of Saul who constantly hunted for him. No, this was way worse than those enemies…
11 Everything is falling apart;
threats and cheating are rampant in the streets.
12 It is not an enemy who taunts me—
I could bear that.
It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me—
I could have hidden from them.
13 Instead, it is you—my equal,
my companion and close friend.
14 What good fellowship we once enjoyed
as we walked together to the house of God.
What made this enemy 100 times worse then his sworn enemies was that this enemy was actually a friend. It was a person he trusted, it was a person he was close to, he was a companion, they went to church together, they shared secrets, they led and fought side-by-side. Now this person, this friend, has become an enemy. He betrayed David. He stabbed him in the back. He broke trust. He wasn’t loyal. He used personal information against David.
It hurts bad enough to be the target of someone who we don’t know who wants to bring us down, like that anonymous letter or blogger, but to be hurt by a loyal friend, that is devastating. David describes the heart of the betrayer in the last few verses:
20 As for my companion, he betrayed his friends;
he broke his promises.
21 His words are as smooth as butter,
but in his heart is war.
His words are as soothing as lotion,
but underneath are daggers!
22 Give your burdens to the Lord,
and he will take care of you.
He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.
Everyone has been betrayed. Everyone has been stabbed in the back. It happens at work, it happens at the club, it happens on survivor, but it’s not supposed to happen in Christian leadership and in church. We are supposed to have each other’s backs. Here are eight ways I believe that we can have each other’s backs in our leadership settings and avoid the pain of the backstabber.
1. I’m going to have your back when critics rise against you and the work that you’re doing. When I hear something negative I’m not just going to simply believe it. I will not assume the worst. I will not assume that your critic has all the facts.
2. I’m going to have your back when you make a mistake. It is not the way of Jesus for me to hold your failure over your head.
3. I’m going to have your back after you have made a decision, even if that decision doesn’t pan out. I will not join the chorus of those armchair quarterbacks who knew what to do.
4. I’m going to have your back by not leading you hanging, in other words I’m going to get back to you with what you need.
5. I’m going to have your back if I hear innuendo. I will step in and stop it.
6. I’m going to have your back by believing that you are a valuable part of the team and I treat you like that to your face and when I’m not with you.
7. I’m going to have your back by not undermining you like Absalom did with King David.
8. I’m going to have your back by treating you with respect in public.
The odd thing about leadership is that when somebody has a problem with you they will often come to me first. If a person has a problem with me they will often come to you first. I want to know that you have my back and I want you to know that I have your back when that happens. Having your back doesn’t mean that I turn my back when I see obvious problems, it simply means that I do not let somebody destroy your integrity, character or reputation while you’re not looking.