Psalm 35 Fight, Song

Standard
Questions: Is God on our side? Dare we ask him to fight for us? Dare we not? Does he care? Should he?

“Read More” to pursue answers in the Psalms.

Lord, make me a Fountain of your Love
Draw me into your holy Presence, that I might know you as my Father
And manifest the image of Christ in this world, and the world to come. Amen.

Psalms 35:1-28

Plead [my cause], O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.

The NIV’s contend probably better captures the struggle David is in than our contemporary (vs. legal) usage of “plead.” While I suppose he may be speaking metaphorically, David’s language implies this is physical rather than rhetorical combat:

Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help. Draw out also the spear, and stop [the way] against them that persecute me

Though, David does seem to be seeking God’s voice, and not just His hand.

say unto my soul, I [am] thy salvation.

And lest we think David is merely asking for a passive defense, he unleashes a fairly thorough curse:

* Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul:

* let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.

* Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase [them].

* Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.

Ouch. And what have they done to deserve this?

For without cause have they hid for me their net [in] a pit, [which] without cause they have digged for my soul.

As bloodthirsty as David sounded earlier, I must admit — assuming his charge is true — that he has just cause to be upset. Or, put another way, I believe God hates these exact same behaviors that David hates. In such cases, it is both right and just to invoke God’s dominion to bring justice:

Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall

I do find it somewhat reassuring that David is asking for — not arbitrary punishment — but a proportional response, where his enemies are caught in their own snares. We love to see poetic justice, whether in movies or real life, and I suspect God does too. Should we begrudge David that same joy?

And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his
salvation

and not just for himself alone:

All my bones shall say, LORD, who [is] like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?

David also draws a sharp contrast between his enemies:

False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge [things] that I knew not. They rewarded me evil for good [to] the spoiling of my soul

and himself:

But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing [was] sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom. I behaved myself as though [he had been] my friend [or] brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth [for his] mother.

and back again:

But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: [yea], the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew [it] not; they did tear [me], and ceased not: With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth

I can’t help but wonder whether David overstates the case a bit, perhaps for dramatic effect. Still, we know he truly mourned for Saul, his greatest enemy. Perhaps the important thing is that David is establishing a standard for how to treat our enemies — the way that pleases God — even if he didn’t always live up to it himself. In so doing, he exhorts us to live in such a way that God can be pleased to rescue us:

Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions

In particular, such a rescue gives God an opportunity to demonstrate His justice and glory:

I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.

and rebuke the scorners:

Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: [neither] let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.

Whom David can’t resist editorializing about again:

For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against [them that are] quiet in the land. Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, [and] said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen [it].

Though, to be fair, he’s not tattling so much as reminding God:

This] thou hast seen, O LORD: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from
me.

And even though he asks for judgement:

Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, [even] unto my cause, my God and my Lord

He’s willing to submit to it:

Judge me, O LORD my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.

In our libertine yet well-run society, we tend to dislike the idea of external judgement; we’d rather settle things ourselves. Yet, perversely, that’s more a reflection of the fact that we do trust justice will be done if necessary. If we lived in ancient times — or the Wild West — we might better appreciate the joy of finding a strong, honest judge to try our case. Especially One who’ll try the case according to his righteousness, not our own.

David wraps up by contrasting the fate of the wicked:

Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up. Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify [themselves] against me

with those who love God (truth, justice):

Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant

and ends on a note of praise:

And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness [and] of thy praise all the day long

Hmph.

Prayer

God, I must confess I sometimes think it weak, or arrogant, for David to ask you for help. Yet, I fear it is rather my arrogance in not asking for your help that is my greatest weakness. Lord, you know I love you, and desire your justice and judgement to reign over my life and my world. Father, teach me to call on your name, and let you fight for me. That the world may be filled with the song of your glory — not mine. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.

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