David was a man after God's own heart, but that doesn't mean he had an easy path through the world of men. As you may remember, his life was filled with grief and strife - much of it, of his own making! Sure, he started out getting the short end of Saul's spear because of God's favor on him, but he made his own mistakes, too, and wrecked his life in almost every way imaginable.
David brought sin upon his house when he slept with Bathsheba, the wife of another man. He brought more sin upon his house when he then had Bathsheba's husband killed. The whole time, mind you, he was supposed to be out leading his men to battle like kings in those days did, but he was at the palace living the sinful life. He conducted a census against the Lord's wishes and brought grief on the men.
He had all the makings of a great king, but all the failures of a mortal man. He had a heart after the Lord, but even his heart was wicked in the same ways that ours are.
As a result, David lived his life with a number of enemies. And we see this documented for us nowhere better than in the Psalms, when David cries out quite a bit from under the pursuit or the trap of those who don't particularly love him.
There's an interesting little quip in one of the Psalms, though, that ought to make us pause for a moment. It ought to give us a little turn of the head like, "Whoa - what's that?" When we read it, the contrast is stark and the switch between emphases so abrupt that we can't help but notice.
We're talking about Psalm 41:4-5.
I say, "Have mercy on me, O Lord! Heal me; for I have sinned against thee!"
My foes say evil of me, "How long till he die, and his name perish?"
But as the psalm continues, we get the sense that when David is talking about his foes, he's not talking about some foreign enemy or oppressor; he's talking about those close to him. The next few verses are going to talk about those who come close to him, as confidants would. They're going to talk about friends who abandon him and turn away. Even my friend in whom I trusted, verse 9 says.
So when we're reading this verse, it's important that we know that we're not talking about something like David vs. the Amalekites here; we're talking about David and his inner circle. Or, who he thought was his inner circle. Or, who he wanted to be his inner circle.
Those to whom he is most vulnerable are mumbling and grumbling out loud and asking themselves when they're going to be rid of him already, when this sinful man (which he confessed himself in the previous verse) is finally going to die and stop being a burden.
When I read these verses recently, the note that I wrote myself was this:
"Did not his foes know that he repented?"
And I think that's something very important that we should talk about. So...let's do it.