Sun. Jun 9th, 2024

Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me

Great Is the Lord

Of David.

35 Contend, O LORD, with those who ycontend with me;

zfight against those who fight against me!

 Take hold of ashield and buckler

and rise for my help!

 Draw the spear and javelin1

against my pursuers!

Say to my soul,

I am your salvation!

 bLet them be cput to shame and dishonor

who seek after my life!

Let them be dturned back and disappointed

who devise evil against me!

 Let them be like echaff before the wind,

with the angel of the LORD driving them away!

 Let their way be dark and fslippery,

with the angel of the LORD pursuing them!

 For gwithout cause hthey hid their net for me;

without cause they dug ia pit for my life.2

 Let jdestruction come upon him kwhen he does not know it!

And let the net that he hid ensnare him;

let him fall into itto his destruction!

 Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD,

lexulting in his salvation.

10  All my mbones shall say,

O LORD, nwho is like you,

delivering the poor

from him who is too strong for him,

the poor and needy from him who robs him?

11  oMalicious3 witnesses rise up;

they ask me of things that I do not know.

12  pThey repay me evil for good;

my soul is bereft.4

13  But I, qwhen they were sick

I rwore sackcloth;

I safflicted myself with fasting;

I prayed twith head bowed5 on my chest.

14  I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother;

as one who laments his mother,

I ubowed down in mourning.

15  But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered;

they gathered together against me;

vwretches whom I did not know

tore at me without ceasing;

16  like profane mockers at a feast,6

they wgnash at me with their teeth.

17  How long, O Lord, will you xlook on?

Rescue me from their destruction,

ymy precious life from the lions!

18  I will thank you in zthe great congregation;

in the mighty throng I will praise you.

19  aLet not those rejoice over me

who are bwrongfully my foes,

and let not those cwink the eye

who dhate me ewithout cause.

20  For they do not speak peace,

but against those who are quiet in the land

they devise words of deceit.

21  They fopen wide their mouths against me;

they say, gAha, Aha!

Our eyes have seen it!

22  hYou have seen, O LORD; ibe not silent!

O Lord, jbe not far from me!

23  Awake and krouse yourself for lmy vindication,

for my cause, my God and my Lord!

24  mVindicate me, O LORD, my God,

according to your righteousness,

and nlet them not rejoice over me!

25  Let them not say in their hearts,

oAha, our heart’s desire!

Let them not say, pWe have swallowed him up.

26  Let them be qput to shame and disappointed altogether

who rejoice at my calamity!

Let them be rclothed with shame and dishonor

who smagnify themselves against me!

27  Let those who delight in my righteousness

shout for joy and be glad

tand say evermore,

uGreat is the LORD,

who vdelights in the welfare of his servant!

28  Then my wtongue shall tell of your righteousness

and of your praise all the day long.

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Prayer for Deliverance

Psalm 35:1-8

I love the imagery in this first 3 verses as David describes his Champion fighting for him. He sees God as a great Warrior with shield, buckler, spear and javelin, coming to his rescue and declaring, “I am your salvation.”

Following this description we have a list of the punishments David desires to see done to his enemies. There are seven curses listed.

  1. May they be disgraced
  2. May they be turned back in dismay
  3. May they be like chaff in the wind
  4. May they be pursed by the angel of the Lord
  5. May ruin overtake them
  6. May they be caught in their own net
  7. May they fall into the pit

All of this because …

they hid their net for me without cause
    and without cause dug a pit for me, Psalm 35:7

Passages like this can be a struggle for Christians. Aren’t we called to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44?) Can we also call down curses upon them?

I read passages like this as an honest cry for justice. David wants to see God execute justice on his enemies. It is a raw and understandable expression of his feelings. Yet I also believe that Christians are called to a higher calling. We are not to seek vengeance or even justice on our enemies. We are to seek to love them and pray for them. It is not an easy calling, but it is the example Jesus set for us on the cross.

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:34

So what do we do with a passage like this? I sometimes use these passages to talk to God about my own frustrations and admit my anger and desire for justice. But no matter how I feel I also remind myself of the New Testament teachings and hand vengeance back to God.

It is our job to forgive and love. It is God’s job to determine when and if there is need for punishment.

Then I Will Rejoice

Psalm 35:9-16

At verse nine there is a change of address from talking to God to talking about God and David’s enemies.

Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord
    and delight in his salvation. Psalm 35:9

David begins with a promise to rejoice in God’s deliverance.

The rest of this section describes the terrible treatment he has received. Though David treated them with love they have repaid him with evil.

How Long, O Lord?

Psalm 35:17-28

Once again the psalmist returns to talking directly to God.

How long, Lord, will you look on? Psalm 35:17

God’s deliverance rarely seems to come when we expect it or want it. I find it a big comfort to read the psalmist’s complaints to God. I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. Even a great hero of the faith, like David, wondered “how long?” David’s complaints become mine as I cry out to God and ask, “How much longer before You answer my prayer for help?”

David’s biggest concern in this section is that his enemy may be able to gloat over his fall. The final request is that God would shame the wicked and bring joy to the righteous.

The last verse is a declaration of praise. David has placed his trust in God and believes that one day he will be able to praise God for the victory.

My tongue will proclaim your righteousness,
your praises all day long. Psalm 35:28

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