When Friends Fail You

Part of the “Poetry Project”*

Read Psalm 69

Rejection 2Psalm 69 and 70 were the evening readings on the schedule last night (three nights ago). I read two verses that I don’t remember reading in the other 200 plus times I have read the book of Psalms. Of course, that last sentence is both improbable and impossible. You can’t read the Psalms 200 hundred times and not read a verse. It is a logical impossibility. Or is it?

I remember a conversation I had with my son. We were driving back from South Dakota where he had finished up another year of college. It was a long drive. I asked him if he saw something that we had just passed. He said yes. Then I asked him a question about what he saw and he was unable to answer. “My dear Watson, you saw,” I said, “but you did not observe.” We both smiled not only at my Sherlock-Holmesian comment but because we knew that not only was that the case, but both of us knew of many times where we had seen something but failed to observe what we had seen truly.

So last night was one of those times for me. Verse 30 and 31 screamed to be seen, really seen. They screamed to be noticed and applied. They shouted at my heart that there was something to be plumbed, something to be understood. I made a note to think about them again. Perhaps I would try to do what David said he was going to do.

I will praise the name of God with a song;
.     I will magnify Him with thanksgiving;
This will please the LORD more than an ox
.     or a bull with horns and hoofs.

I turned to my bride, told her about the verse I had “seen,” kissed her goodnight and turned out the light. An hour later I was up, wide awake, still thinking about that verse. So here I am at 2:18 AM writing my way to clarity. 

The psalm is 36 verses long, so the verses that arrested my attention (vs. 30-31) are near the end of David’s meditation. He describes a desperate situation. He is in over his head. Fathoms stretch out below him and the waves are crashing over his head like liquid-hammers threatening to pound him into the deep. He has no foothold, nothing to grasp and keep him afloat—except a prayer, a parch-throated cry for rescue (vs. 1-3). He has been waiting for God to “show up” crying out his need and both his eyes and his soul are growing weary (vs. 3).

His heart is broken. His friends have turned against him.

Rejection 1He had served his people, loved his people, sought to follow God before his people, but his enemies in the kingdom have multiplied. They have power and have used lies to undermine him and attack him. Those who hated him without cause (vs. 4) seemed to be more numerous than the hairs on his head. (I hope he was bald!)

Yet he knew, as all men must, that he was not blameless (vs. 5). He knew that he could not plead complete innocence before the all-seeing eye of God. His enemies had some fuel for their machinations that he had supplied. It grieves him.

Yet even in his sorrow at their betrayal, at the multiplied enemies in his court, he fights for those who put their hope in the LORD God of hosts. “Let not those who hope in you be to put to shame through me. … Let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me.” (vs. 6) David chooses the high road.

If he must go down, let him not add to the hardship of his people. That is never an easy road to travel, especially when your heart cries over perceived injustice, but it is the path that glorifies God. And so, the choice is made easier for the Christian. 

As we taught our children, “It’s always right to do the right thing,” even when the right thing is personally hard, potentially painful, and filled with unknowns. God can be trusted in those times too.

So my prayer, and yours when friends desert you, when they no longer believe in you, when you’re feeling alone, and broken, and bruised, and lost, and when fear begins to rise and threatens to undo or shake your trust in God, when your sorrows mount and “like sea billows roll,” let your heart follow David’s lead and sing a song of praise (vs. 30). Magnify Him with thanksgiving and teach your soul what it has forgotten (vs. 31). Let worship remind you that … 

He is still God, and you are still His.

My Song on a Fearful Monday

“I am Yours O God.
I am Yours.

Let my heart say, ‘I am Yours.’
And let that be enough.”
When I am weary Lord
When darkness crowds my view
When the water’s deep
and the waves are towers
Let my heart remember Your lovingkindness.
Let my heart recall Your mercy.
Let me teach my heart again
“I am Yours O God.
I am Yours

Let my heart say, ‘I am Yours.’
And let that be enough.”

In December of 2009 or thereabouts, my son, Marty Schoenleber III (aka, Marty S. Dalton), put a video up on
 Youtube.com. It inspired me to keep working on a project I thought of a couple of years ago. The idea is to write a poem of personal reflection for each Psalm in the psalter. 

  • Don’t think of any as high art. Think of these offerings as one poor man’s desire to draw nearer to Christ. New entries will generally appear on Sunday afternoons.
  • One more thing: It is always best to read the psalm or the verses being commented on first.  This link will take you back to a list of all the “poems” that have been written so far, Poetry Project.

Go to Psalm 70.

2 thoughts on “When Friends Fail You

  1. A few years ago, I took on a similar project–to write a meditation on each stanza of Psalm 119 and then on each verse. It was spiritually profitable for me. Subsequently published as the Love Story for I came to realize that the author was passionately in love with the Word of God.


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