Psalm 41 is an example of a psalm in which only one verse is definitely Messianic. Psalm 41:9 was quoted by our Lord in John 13:18-19 and applied to Judas Iscariot. The rest of the psalm is most likely David’s experience, when some of his best friends, including his own son, conspired against him, and raised an army to overthrow his throne and his kingdom.
There are three other passages in the Old Testament which speak prophetically of the betrayer:
Zechariah 11:12-13 is the third: 12 Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. 13 Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter. This passage is quoted in Matthew 27:9-10.
In Psalm 41:9, the Holy Spirit takes us forward to the night in which the Lord Jesus was betrayed. He was in the upper room with His disciples and had just washed their feet John 13:4-5 The foot washing scene is symbolic of the Lord’s aid in cleansing us from defilement in our pathway here. He had also washed the feet of Judas Iscariot; shortly following this gracious action He quotes Psalm 41:9, “He that eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me” (Jn. 13:18). Consider this: the very heel that had just been in Christ’s gracious hands is now lifted in treachery against Him! Judas turned his heel toward the door in leaving the upper room, and used those very feet to accomplish his betrayal of Christ (Jn. 13:18, 30).
The Lord Jesus, it should be noticed, did not quote Psalm 41:9 in its entirety but omitted the words, “Even my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted.” The reason is that the Lord did not really trust or confide in Judas: “for He knew who should betray Him” before it transpired. He had indicated to the other disciples that one among them was still unclean (Jn. 13:10–11).
Judas Iscariot is sometimes presented in a sympathetic way by some, as a misguided individual or as a revolutionary. The question is often raised: “Why did Judas betray Christ?” While there are several theories proffered to explain his behavior, the Scripture account of what transpired is straightforward. Just prior to the betrayer’s covenant with the chief priests, Mary of Bethany had anointed the head of the Lord with precious ointment (Mt. 26:8–13). The disciples protested, led on by Judas, that Mary’s action was a waste and that the alabaster flask of ointment could have been sold and given to the poor (Jn. 12:4–5). We read that Judas was the “treasurer” but was pilfering from the money bag (Jn. 12:6); he was an unconverted thief! And when he said that it could have been given to the poor, he was really referring to himself!
Immediately after Mary’s act of devotion we read: “then … Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests … and sought opportunity that he might deliver him up” (Mt. 26:16). He had hoped the ointment would have been sold and the money put into the bag. His covetous heart being disappointed at having lost this prize of stealing the proceeds, he betrayed the Lord for money to satisfy his greed. The loss of this prospective financial windfall triggered Judas into betraying Christ. Satan had entered into him to accomplish the wicked deed (Jn. 13:27), used him as his tool, and then discarded him (Mt. 27:40). Thus the “son of perdition” went to “his own place” (Jn. 17:12, Acts 1:25). How solemn!
May we never allow unjudged sin to be nurtured in our hearts for it will lead us to dishonor the Son of God. May the Holy Spirit keep us and preserve us. Are you in danger of compromising your Lord? Join us this Lord’s Day as we consider the dangers of compromise.
For the Glory of Our King,