Betrayed by Friends; Saved by Enemies

Betrayal is extremely painful. David felt the pain of betrayal keenly, but handled it without getting bitter. This sermon shows us how we can do the same.


Ikuko Toguri was born in Los Angeles on July 4, 1916, and was the daughter of Japanese immigrants. She went by the name of Iva. Iva was a girl scout, a member of the Methodist church, had graduated from University of California with a degree in Zoology, a voting citizen, and loved her country, America.

When she was 25 years old she sailed to Japan for a brief visit to a dying relative. Two months later she tried to return, but unfortunately her planned return came after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Well, the U.S. Government declared her an enemy alien.

The Japanese government pressured her to renounce her U.S. citizenship, which she refused to do. So Japan declared her to be an enemy alien and refused to give her a war ration card. So she was in a real pickle. Both America and Japan declared her an enemy, and she was a woman without a country – much like David was.

To make a living she took a position with Radio Tokyo and worked as a typist in the news department for $7 a month. POW's testified that she used her scant money and risked her life to smuggle food into the POW camps, feeding American and Australian POWs like Major Cousens and Captain Ince. Eventually she was able to produce her own 20-minute show, but still had hardly any money.

When the POWs were forced by the Japanese to broadcast propaganda, they asked her if she would be willing to help them because they had developed a close relationship with her. She absolutely refused to broadcast propaganda, but Major Cousens and Captain Ince assured her that their scripts would not have her saying anything against the United States. So she agreed. And true to their word, not a trace of anti-American propaganda could be found in her radio broadcasts. She was supposed to be doing propaganda, but she creatively managed to cloak it in a way that was actually encouraging to the American troops. She hosted a total of 340 shows. She called herself Orphan Annie and called the US military in the region, "my fellow orphans." So that is a little bit of background on the loyal character of Iva. She was much like David – misunderstood, but seeking to serve the United States to the best of her ability.

But here is where the real pain came. Despite being faithful to her citizenship, she was arrested on September 5, 1945 and spent a year in jail while she was being investigated for treason by the US government. It was hard enough being treated as an enemy by Japan, but it was even harder to be tried for treason (of all things) when she had sacrificially risked so much for America. The American and Australian prisoners of war thankfully testified on her behalf and when neither the FBI nor MacArthur's staff could find any evidence of wrongdoing she was released. I read the transcripts, and the FBI showed that they had thoroughly investigated five year's worth of evidence, all vindicating her. The Department of Justice issued a statement calling her broadcasts "innocuous." The US Navy actually issued her a certificate of appreciation for the way she had helped the troops morale with her music.

But her troubles were not over. Despite this trial and acquittal, and the testimony of POWs on her behalf, and the certificate of appreciation by the US Navy, and the FBI's clearing of her name, and the positive statement by the US Department of Justice, there was so much anti-Japanese hatred at the time and so much false accusations by one radio talk show, and so much popular resentment for her coming back to the states, that she was rearrested after arriving in the US and tried by federal prosecutors once again for treason and "adhering to, and giving aid and comfort to, the Imperial Government of Japan during World War II." So already she has gone through a great deal of trauma and has felt betrayed by her country. Her trial is described as the costliest and longest trial in American history, totaling more than half a million dollars. That was a lot of money back then. They scoured Japan and America for any evidence against her and were coming up pretty short.

They began with eight charges, but finally settled for one charge – that she had announced on the radio the loss of eight American ships. Despite having boxes of tapes of the radio programs, the jury was not allowed to listen to them. There were many irregularities, including not allowing her Portuguese husband to testify on her behalf, not punishing false witnesses who were proved to have been guilty of perjury, etc. In fact, just like David, she never did see her husband again for the rest of her life. Having looked at the court records, I felt sickened with the obvious injustice of it all.

Anyway, she was found guilty, was fined $10,000, and sentenced to ten years in prison. She is one of only seven Americans found guilty of treason. It was later discovered that the two witnesses who had testified on even the incredibly weak charge that she was found guilty on, had lied under oath, and when it was discovered, said that they were threatened by the occupying police to testify against her or else. She was paroled after six years and two months in prison. You would think she would leave the country that had so mistreated her, yet upon release, she resisted deportation, and continued to serve with grace in this country. Her defense lawyers became lifetime friends, and the evidence of her innocence was so overwhelming that President Ford finally gave an unconditional full pardon in 1974.

I give this story because it is so similar to the betrayal that David experienced. Just like Iva, David had sacrificially served his country and his fellow citizens. Just like Iva, David was in exile. Just like Iva, David was rejected by the governments of both countries. David spent approximately the same amount of time in exile. Yet David shows a similar grace in the face of difficulties.

If you put yourself into either Iva's or David's situation, would you be bitter, or would you have a supreme trust in the overruling providence of God? Scripture tells us, "Do not put your trust in princes" (Ps. 146:3). They will let you down. But the Scriptures also call us to trust God even when we cannot see any good in what He has brought.

Betrayed by "Friends"

Let's look first of all at the betrayal of "friends." The first friends to betray David were the Ziphites, who were members of his own tribe. In fact, their town was one of the defensive centers for David's home area. So he may have even known some of them. Let's read verses 19-20.

The misplaced patriotism of the Ziphites (vv. 19-20)

1Samuel 23:19 "Then the Ziphites came up to Saul at Gibeah, saying, "Is David not hiding with us in strongholds in the woods, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon?"

1Samuel 23:20 "Now therefore, O king, come down according to all the desire of your soul to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him into the king's hand."

The first thing that I see in this passage is a misplaced patriotism. They were not putting the interests of their country first; they were putting loyalty to their king first. And of course, in their minds the two were identical. I may be wrong, but I doubt very much that these Ziphites had any evil intentions. They were patriots who loved their country. In fact, we have archeological evidence that the Ziphites were very well known for their loyalty to king and to country. There are tons of artifacts from this town of their logo, "to the king." And they were not only known for their loyalty, but for the key role they had played down through the years in defending the country against its enemies. They were proud of their ancestor Caleb, who even in his 80's fought valiantly under Joshua. And from that time on Ziph was one of fifteen key defensive centers in Judah. The Ziphites were patriots who were ready to defend their country at the drop of a hat.

Here's the problem: they had a zeal without knowledge. They were likely sincere, but misinformed. What they were acting on was the bad press that Saul had given. Of course, you can always believe the government press, can't you? And so they didn't investigate any further. Any enemy of Saul was an enemy of theirs. That's the way a Ziphite thinks. So they felt that the right thing to do was to report David's whereabouts to Saul. "For the king; for the country." That was their attitude.

And every age has had its Ziphites who will weirdly think they are serving God and country when they betray their neighbors. We shake our heads in hindsight at German citizens who could report on their neighbors to the Nazis! How could they do that? And we shake our heads at German officers who arrested pastors. But you know what? Many of those Germans were really patriotic Ziphites who thought they were doing the right thing. They had a zeal for their country, but it was not tempered with knowledge. And in some ways, a blind, zealous patriotism is one of the worst things that citizens can have.

And there are blind patriots today. They will defend America no matter what evil America does. They will follow orders without questioning the orders. Years ago in Louisville, Nebraska there were Ziphite officers hauling pastors and parents out of a church simply because some bureaucrat said that it was illegal to have an uncertified church school. I doubt those officers really intended to oppose Christianity. I doubt they hated these pastors. At least some of them probably thought that they were serving God and country. But they were duped.

I watched a hidden video of police confiscating cameras and video from citizens in a public meeting last week. And the police explained that they were just doing their duty of protecting citizens. And you sit there scratching your head and wondering what citizens were being protected by confiscating cameras. This was a public meeting. Why couldn't it be videoed? And people said, "Well, those were Democratic radicals who were posting stuff on the web." And I'm thinking, "So? Since when has frustration with the opposition made it OK for us to do the same things as the opposition?" Those police officers were Ziphites. They couldn't think for themselves. I have a strong feeling that they will be sued. In fact, I hope they get sued even though they were obeying the orders of conservatives. There is too much of this going on.

But we have Ziphites patting down honest citizens in airports, Ziphites confiscating arms from honest citizens when a natural disaster hits, Ziphites blindly implementing unconstitutional orders week in and week out. Ziphites are everywhere. They aren't subject to a constitution. Their motto is "to the king." And when Ziphite citizens go along with it, there are Davids who feel betrayed. I really think that in part, the Tyler situation in Oklahoma was Ziphite citizens betraying neighbors to Sauls. And there is huge suffering that results from the betrayal of such Ziphites. I really admire the way that family has kept from getting bitter. And I really think it is appropriate to preach on passages such as this because you may be the ones to be burned next, and it is important that we learn how to respond in a godly manner.

When the blessing of the state is a curse (v. 21)

Verse 21: "And Saul said, "Blessed are you of the LORD, for you have compassion on me." Saul praised these Ziphites for betraying David as if this was a wonderful, compassionate act, and as if this was serving God and country. He puts a good spin on a horrible act of betrayal. He was always excited to find people who would be unthinkingly loyal. But his praise of wrong actions would have been considered a curse by God, and should have been considered a curse by the Ziphites. So Saul blesses them. And secondly, Saul says, "you have compassion on me." Having compassion on a runaway government is a failure to have compassion on David and the rest of Israel's citizenry. So this is one of the things we always need to consider. Though you might find people who praise your behavior you need to also ask, "Will God praise it or curse it?" Though serving the government is a God-honored duty, there does come a time when serving and having compassion on the government means to destroy and fail to have compassion on innocents. We have politicians who sing, "God bless America" while not lifting a finger to help the unborn. That call of blessing hides the reality of God's curse.

Of course, no one wants to have the state mad at you. Most would rather have the state's blessing. But if a tyrant blesses you, you are probably in trouble with God.

When citizens unwittingly become accomplices to tyranny (vv. 22-23)

And of course these citizens were in trouble with God because they were unwitting accomplices to the king's tyranny. Verses 22-23

1Samuel 23:22 "Please go and find out for sure, and see the place where his hideout is, and who has seen him there. For I am told he is very crafty."

1Samuel 23:23 "See therefore, and take knowledge of all the lurking places where he hides; and come back to me with certainty, and I will go with you. And it shall be, if he is in the land, that I will search for him throughout all the clans of Judah."

It's very interesting what Saul is doing here. They've come with one piece of information, and he hooks them into giving him more service. It's almost as if he's got his tentacles around him here. And these verses indicate that there are three more things he wanted them to do. First, he wanted them to be involved in surveillance of David's hangouts. Second, he wanted them to make note of everyone who had seen David. Their help is no longer just about David. Those people would no doubt be rounded up as enemies of the state for giving help to David. The third thing he asks them to provide is the layout of the land – "knowledge of all the lurking places where he hides." But it looks like they won't be off the hook even when they provide those three things because Saul then says, "I will go with you." They are going to be a part of this manhunt. So a willingness to report on David involves them in a whole lot more. They probably still think they are doing the right thing – they are helping the government get rid of David, the terrorist. But because of their ignorance, they are unwitting accomplices to tyranny.

So in these verses David is hurt by three things. He is hurt by neighbors who turned him in. He's hurt by a government that praises and rewards betrayal. Third, he is hurt by citizens actively being involved in the manhunt for him.

When true patriots are harassed (vv. 24-25)

Then verses 24-25 show the actual harassment of David.

1 Samuel 23:24 "So they arose and went to Ziph before Saul. But David and his men were in the Wilderness of Maon, in the plain on the south of Jeshimon."

1 Samuel 23:25 "When Saul and his men went to seek him, they told David. Therefore he went down to the rock, and stayed in the Wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued David in the Wilderness of Maon."

David and his men are like Iva. The government was spending enormous sums of money to take David down just like they spent unbelievable sums of money just to take Iva down. Both governments were doing exactly the opposite of what Romans 13 says is the sacred duty of a government to do. Let me quickly summarize five sacred duties of Romans 13:

  1. First, according to Romans 13:1, government officials are supposed

    to limit their power (v. 1). They are supposed to believe that there is no authority if not from God (which is the literal translation of that verse). Government officials have no authority if God has not granted the authority explicitly in the Scripture. I watched an interview of Ron Paul where the host seemed to have a hard time believing that Ron Paul was not interested in power. He misinterpreted that as not wanting to win. And Ron Paul corrected him by saying that of course he wanted to win, but he was not interested in presidential power; he was interested in limiting presidential power. But that is the call of Romans 13:1 – for government officials to exercise no power except the power that God has authorized them to have.

  2. The second sacred trust is to only resist those who are lawless (v.

    2). Saul is doing the exact opposite. He is resisting a law-abiding citizen. Do you know what the difference between unlawful and illegal is? Unlawful is contrary to the laws of God. Illegal is a sick bird. Actually, illegal is contrary to state statute. But there are statutes that are unlawful statutes. Anyway, the second sacred trust is to resist those who are lawless.

  3. The third call of Romans 13 to a magistrate is to praise good works

    and be a terror to bad works (v. 3). The Psalms indicate that David feels extremely betrayed that Saul has become a terror to his good works. Romans 13 is completely flipped upside down.

  4. The fourth call in Romans 13 is to minister protection to the Davids

    of this world (v. 4). David is experiencing the exact opposite just like the defenseless Japanese American was experiencing the exact opposite. They were harassed, not protected.

  5. The fifth call of Romans 13 was to raise the sword against tyrants and evildoers (v. 4). And while Saul did do that, he also raised the sword against those who did good.

When you are faced with such a systemic perversion of justice in the name of justice, it is extremely frustrating. So the sense of frustration that homeschoolers, pastors, and others have felt at the attacks of a runaway government is a frustration that David keenly understood. And in the conclusion I want to draw out some applications of how we can face such injustice without getting bitter, but instead with faith.

Yet there was a remnant who thought straight ("they told David" – v. 25)

But first of all, let's look at some rays of light that are shining in even this passage. The last verse that I read gives a tiny hint that even in the midst of this hurtful betrayal, there were loyal citizens who didn't agree with what was happening. It says, "they* told David." Who does the "they" refer to? The only antecedents are either some of Saul's men or some of the Ziphites. Whoever the "they" was, they became a counter-intelligence helping David. In Nazi Germany, some of the good guys stayed in government so that they could pass on critical information to the underground. It is possible that this was what Jonathan was doing. In any case, David had some eyes and ears out there who were helping him.

And Iva had that with her legal team that believed in her and actually became life-long friends with her. God knows how to strategically place a Shadrack, Mesheck, and Abednego into the right place at the right time to help His people.

Saved by Enemies

Providentially it was in the nick of time (v. 26)

The second ray of hope in this passage was that God providentially used His enemies, the Philistines, to save David. This is so ironic. But it also shows the overarching Providence of God who can use (as Psalm 76 words it) the wrath of man to praise Him. This is what is so great about our God! He can even turn our apparent defeats into means of advancing His kingdom.

Look at verse 26: "Then Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. So David made haste to get away from Saul, for Saul and his men were encircling David and his men to take them." Things were looking desperate. God does not always rescue us when we would like Him to. He sometimes does it in a way that elicits more faith from us and brings Him more glory. Psalm 45 says that God shall help her [that is, the church] just at the break of dawn. In other words, when things are darkest, just in the nick of time, God comes through for His people. You might wish that He would come through sooner – long before the break of dawn, but God's providence is intended not just for our comfort, but also for our good. And that's what was going on here. Some of the most beautiful Psalms of trust in God came out of David's experience on this mountain. God made things look desperate, and then saved David just in the nick of time.

God knows how to take the pressure off (v. 27)

Verse 27: "But a messenger came to Saul, saying, ‘Hurry and come, for the Philistines have invaded the land!" I'm sure that this frustrated the daylights out of Saul. He had almost captured David, and he is thinking – "Do I lose my kingdom to the Philistines, or do I capture David?" He had no choice. He had to leave. And it probably drove him crazy to do so.

But you know, God can frustrate the humanists of today just as easily. The humanists of 2011 might wish that they had trillions more to spend to overturn Christ's kingdom. But God can use lack of money, enemies outside the nation, enemies inside the nation, and even the very friends of the humanists to frustrate them. God knows how to providentially take the pressure off His people when that is necessary.

God causes even His enemies to serve His purposes (v. 28)

Verse 28: "Therefore Saul returned from pursuing David, and went against the Philistines; so they called that place the Rock of Escape." They made it a memorial to God's goodness. In fact, in the Psalms that David wrote during this period, David ascribes the deliverance from Saul to God's providential care. This was not an accident. It was God Himself who used the Philistines to serve His purposes.

And that idea troubles many people. How can God use the sinful actions of others to accomplish righteous purposes? (And the Scripture clearly says that He does.) Some people say that God "permitted" it, but Scripture doesn't use that language. God's providence completely controls even the wicked actions of armies. Amos 3:6 says that there is not a single evil or calamity that happens in a city that God has not done it.

And people's instant reaction is, "Horrors! How could that possibly be??! God never sins; nor does He ever tempt anyone to sin." I 100% agree. James is quite clear on that. But think of it this way: was there any sin that was ever greater than the crucifixion of Jesus? No. Yet God controlled the crucifixion. In fact, Scripture says that God offered up Jesus on the cross, and Isaiah 53:10 says, "It pleased the LORD to bruise Him." God didn't just permit the crucifixion. God predestined over 100 details that had to take place in perfect sequence for Jesus to be crucified on Nisan 14. He controlled it all. The Jewish leadership did everything they could to postpone the crucifixion until after the crowds were gone, because they feared riots. But Jesus had to be crucified at exactly the right hour. He had to be beaten, a spear thrust through His side, his garments had be gambled for, etc., etc. How could God work through even the wicked actions of others without being guilty of those actions Himself? That's the hundred-dollar question.

Or here is another way of looking at it: how could Psalm 105:17 say that God sent Joseph into Egypt when it was Joseph's wicked brothers who sold him there? How could Joseph say to his brothers, "But as for you,you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive" (Gen. 50:19)? How can man be responsible if God is sovereign over everything? And more to the point of this sermon, how can God control both the betrayal of friends and the use of the Philistines to save David?

If you don't understand the answer to these questions you will have a very difficult time handling the betrayal of others with peace. You are much more likely to get bitter. If you don't understand how Amos 3:6 can attribute every evil in a city to God's providence, you will find it difficult to see how Romans 8:28 can be true – that He is working all things together for good. If you do not believe Romans 11:36 – "for of Him and through Him and to Him are all things," you will have a hard time worshipping God with the wonder, awe, and gratefulness that Paul does in that chapter. So I want to spend a little bit of time explaining how God can control the Philistine's sinful attack against Israel, yet work it together for good, without being the author of sin.

And I think A.W. Pink's illustration is as good as any in explaining this. Many of you have heard this illustration, but there are new people who have not. So please bear with me. Pink asks what keeps a book that's in your hand from falling to the ground? He says, "It is the restraining power of my hand." And Pink points out that if the restraining power of my hand is removed from holding up the book, the book will drop to the ground by its own nature because of gravity. It doesn't need to be thrown to the ground in order to fall to the ground. And in the same way all men are attracted to sin by their sin nature just as gravity pulls on this book. And God in His mercy and restraining goodness restrains men from plummeting into worse and worse sins. That is a wonderful gift. Such men are not going to be punished in hell as severely. They don't deserve such restraining providences. So when God pulls His hand away and gives them up to their sin as Romans 1 speaks about, He is not withholding anything that they deserve. He is giving them up precisely to their deserts. He doesn't force them to sin, but by the very act of giving them up to a depraved mind, He guarantees that they will fall. And according to Scripture, apart from God's restraining work, any of us would fall to the same extent in sin and rebellion. That's why it scares me to death to trifle with His grace. I cling to Him. So God can control what areas men will be given up to simply by determining when He will remove the restraint that they do not deserve anyway and that they have been spurning anyway. You could say that He allows sins, but they are predetermined just as surely, even though He is not the author of sin. So God works even the wrath of the Philistines to praise Him. God works their wicked attacks together for David's good and for the sanctification of Israel, whose citizens have failed to do what they should, and are being justly disciplined.

But this experience produced even greater caution in David (v. 29). These five steps can help us handle betrayal in a godly way.

Of course, this illustration shows that men must be responsible. And throughout this passage we see David doing what he could. In verse 28 we see that David used all the means at his disposal to escape from Saul. He was not passive. And in verse 29 we see David taking further precautions. It says, "Then David went up from there and dwelt in strongholds at En Gedi." This was a strategic site for David to hide. In fact, from Josephus we learn that En Gedi became a perfect place for bandits to hide out from the government in the time of Rome. It was a great hiding spot. So David tried to be cautious. He didn't deliberately tempt the Lord.

Conclusion – five applications from the Psalms written at this period

(Psalms 13, 17, 22, 54)

So in a very few verses this passage summarizes what must have been an extremely painful time for David. This passage doesn't show his inward reaction. You have to read Psalms 13,17,22 and 54 to get that reaction. I hope to preach on at least one of those Psalms next week as a transition into the next chapter.

But I want to end today by pointing to five general reactions to pain that I see in these four Psalms. I find it interesting that in those Psalms David engaged in self-examination and asking God to see if there was any wicked way in him. He maybe thought that if there are so many people against him maybe he has done something wrong. So when you think you have been betrayed, it is worthwhile to examine your heart to see if you have contributed to the problems in any way, and if so to repent. But in this case, after self-examination he concluded that there was no basis for the attacks on his name. I'll read just one verse from Psalm 17. David told God, "You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing."

So David kept from being overwhelmed by letting God alone be the judge of his heart. When you are used to worrying more about the opinion of man than you are the opinion of God, this will be hard to do. But it is a sign of maturity that you can take slander and persecution so long as you have God's favor. The apostle Paul told the Corinthians, "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself." (1Cor. 4:3). There were Christians in Corinth who were judging Paul and slandering his name. And while Paul called them to cut it out, he had come to a place where the opinions of man didn't bother him as much. That's the first thing we can ask ourselves: "Is it a small thing to be falsely judged by man?" Paul was not saying that it wasn't painful. He was saying that the opinions of man to not drive him. So that is the first thing we should do – ask God, "Search me and know my heart and show me if there is any wicked way in me."

Secondly, David laid his case out before the Lord and asked God to give the justice that he could not get from human courts. He said, "Hear a just cause, O LORD, Attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips. Let my vindication come from your presence; Let your eyes look on the things that are upright." This is taking Satan and humans to the heavenly court and asking God to give justice. Too many Christians don't do this second step. When we have been burned down here below, we still have access to a court of appeals. We can take our injustices to the court of heaven. It's appropriate when you have been slandered to say, "Lord, you judge those people and handle this situation; I can't. I present before you the evidence that I have been wronged, and I ask you to give me the restitution demanded by Your law." Take your betrayers to the court of heaven. The court of heaven will always give you justice. And I've got two sermons that outline all the details of heavenly court jurisprudence that you need to go through to get your request answered. Don't be passive – take your betrayers to the court of heaven.

The third thing that David did was to keep his lips from lashing out and complaining against the Ziphites and grumbling against God's providence. He said, "I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress." He was leaving the justice in the hands of God, and that freed him up to never have to utter bitter, angry words against Saul, which would simply poison him and other people. It freed him up to not have to engage in grumbling, gossip, and constantly feeling like we have to defend ourselves. Let me assure you that there aren't enough words you can say to defend yourself against all the gossip and slander that you might receive. Don't transgress with your mouth. No matter how evil people have been against you, don't transgress with your mouth.

Fourth, David praised God by faith and declared God's goodness by faith. Even though God was sovereign over all these things, David affirms His justice and what he calls "Your marvelous lovingkindness." This praise was cleansing. It kept his heart from falling down the pit of bitterness. When you have been betrayed, after weeping and presenting your case before God, and after guarding your lips from grumbling, spend time praising God. You will find remarkable healing happening within you.

And finally, in Psalm 17 (and all the other Psalms) he called out to God to save him from those who surrounded him. There are heavenly hosts who can intervene on our behalf. We too can engage in spiritual warfare and ask for God's intervention. If you will do those five things, you will be in a far better place to handle your betrayals. May God help our congregation to triumph over the Ziphites and the Saul's and over our own evil hearts. Amen.

Betrayed by Friends; Saved by Enemies is part of the Life of David series published on September 4, 2011

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