Accuracy of Bible Bible lessons

Judas, the betrayer of Jesus: A look at him through the prophecy of Psalm 41:9

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The Word of God is so full and timeless. I am always amazed by its richness, precision, and depth. As I was reading the Bible this week, the Holy Spirit revealed something fresh to me from this verse in the Psalms:

Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me. (Psalm 41:9 NKJV)

When David wrote this Psalm, he’d been betrayed by a person in whom he had trusted. More than that though, David was writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit and this verse had fuller ramifications. 

According to Jesus, Psalm 41:9 didn’t solely apply to David but was also Messianic prophecy. During the “last supper,” when Jesus was gathered at a table with his disciples, He said to them, “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against Me.’

Jesus said Scripture was to be fulfilled. He was citing Pslam 41:9, and the “familiar friend” to whom Jesus was referring was Judas Iscariot, the betrayer.

When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said “Most
assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”

Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke.

Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.

Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke.

Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?”

Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. (John 13:21-26)

Judas did, in fact, share bread with Jesus that evening, dipped from the same bowl in which Jesus had dipped bread. And, later that very night, Judas betrayed Jesus (Matthew 26:47). This all happened in fulfillment of Psalm 41:9.

But there’s more. The entire verse alludes to Judas Iscariot.

First, it speaks of  “my own familiar friend.” For many months, perhaps even several years, there was close fellowship between Jesus and Judas Iscariot. Judas was one of the twelve disciples who followed Jesus during His earthly ministry. Judas walked with Him. Judas listened to Him. He saw Jesus’ perform countless miracles.

Judas wasn’t simply familiar to Jesus, Jesus befriended Judas and loved him. For, Jesus is the embodiment of love. So, even while Judas’ heart was wretched, it didn’t diminish Jesus’ love for him. Love is Jesus’ nature. He proved “his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5.8).

Regardless of whether Judas reciprocated any genuine friendship, Jesus looked toward Judas and desired fellowship. Jesus wanted relationship with Judas. Actually, when Judas approached Jesus in Gethsemane, Jesus said, “Do what you came for, friend” (Matthew 26:50 NIV, emphasis added). Even at the very time of Judas’ betrayal, Jesus still referred to him as “friend.”

Yet, there is another phrase from Psalm 41:9 that I’ve wondered about in the past. It states, “in whom I trusted.”

I know when David wrote this Psalm, whoever betrayed David had been a trusted friend. But I’ve questioned how, or if, “in whom I trusted” applied to Jesus’ trust towards Judas.

For, Jesus knew the heart of all men (cf. John 2:24-25.) “Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him (John 6:64). Well then, it seems, if Jesus knew the heart of Judas from the beginning, that Jesus would’ve never trusted Judas because He knew Judas would betray Him.

So, how does speaking about the betrayer as, “in whom I trusted” fit into Messianic prophecy. Or, does it?

The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to this Scripture to show me—yes, it does!

But the context of what it means is different from how we tend to first associate the word “trust.” In Scripture, it is referring here to a different type of trust. It wasn’t about Jesus’ trusting in the character of Judas. But of Jesus purposefully placing Judas in a position of overseeing a “trust.”

It was Judas who was assigned with overseeing the finances, or the purse, for the group (John 12:4-6). And, Jesus would’ve been the One who placed Judas in that position. (Yes, even before assigning that charge to Judas, Jesus knew Judas to be a thief who would eventually embezzle from the trust.)

The term “trust” is often used in legal terminology. Collected funds or properties can be held in an account called a “trust.” And, the one assigned to oversee that “trust” is known as a “trustee.” That title is given regardless of whether the person’s character is trustworthy.

By assigning Judas over the purse, or trust funds, Judas was given a position of “trust.” That means even the detail of Judas’ being assigned overseer, or trustee, of the group’s purse was a fulfillment of prophecy. Wow!

Oh, the fathomless depths of God’s Word.

It doesn’t stop there! In Psalm 41:9, the verse also says the betrayer will lift up “his heel against me.” This refers to an earlier Messianic prophecy that was spoken by God after the fall of Adam.

“So the LORD God said to the serpent: . . . He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)

That prophecy is specifically talking about “that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan” (Rev. 12:9). And it was fulfilled, too, in the betrayal of Judas, “Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him” (John 13:27).

Satan schemed to kill the Son of God, meaning to bring an end to God’s purpose. The devil tried to end Jesus Christ’s mission by enticing men to crucify the Lord. But, in essence, all the devil did was strike at the Lord’s heel.

For when Jesus lay down His life at Calvary, that was His mission. There, Jesus bruised the head of that serpent Satan, with a fatal blow. For, Jesus was raised from the grave on the third day!

Through Jesus’ sacrificial death at Calvary, He gave His own life so whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!

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