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.
Instead, it is you—my equal,
my companion and close friend.
What good fellowship we once enjoyed
as we walked together to the house of God. (NLT)
Those closest to us are those who cause us most pain. Not because they are bad people. Rather because they have the most opportunity to cause that hurt. Rather because closeness can result in raw feelings being exposed. And such wounds hurt so much because we don’t expect them, no matter how realistic we are about human nature.
This is what the Psalmist is feeling. He has been attacked by his enemies but he expected nothing else. It is when those whom he calls friends have attacked him that he feels bereft. Our friends are supposed to support us when attacked by enemies, not become enemies themselves.
All sorts of things can cause a relationship to grow sour, to descend into bitterness and recrimination. It can happen slowly or suddenly. It can have obvious causes or remain a complete mystery. Whatever the case, betrayal hurts.
If we are to guard against falling into resentment and hostility, we have to become familiar with the difficult yet necessary process of forgiveness. And if we are to guard against feelings of abandonment and loneliness, we have to become familiar with the everlasting friendship of the one who made us.
Our human friends are, after all, only human.