What a rainy day yesterday. So far, we received 3.15 inches! Not sure if it’s going to rain yet today, but it sure is gloomy now.
I stumbled across a Psalm yesterday that seems troublesome, but I’m wondering if it truly is. Let me give you a portion of it.
Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me! Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help! Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers! Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!”
Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life! Let them be turned back and disappointed who devise evil against me! Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them away! Let their way be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them!
For without cause they hid their net for me; without cause they dug a pit for my life. Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it! And let the net that he hid ensnare him; let him fall into it – to his destruction!
Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord, exulting in his salvation. All my bones shall say, “O Lord, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him?”
I’m no expert, but it seems to me that there are far more exclamation marks in this passage than is typical of the bible. Look at them all. This is quite the prayer, isn’t it? After all, it is most definitely a prayer. David is pleading with the Lord. We may be quick to dismiss this as over the top and not applicable for today, but we should be careful. In just a few more verses, we see verse 19 as well as Psalm 69:4 quoted by Jesus in John 15:25, “But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without cause.’”
Jesus didn’t dismiss this psalm, and neither should we. Would you ever pray a prayer like this? Honestly. Would you? If not, why not? Perhaps you have never had someone hate you without cause? Perhaps you have never had anyone contend with you or fight against you? I guarantee you one thing, if we are living out the Great Commission, we will be hated by the world. Why? Because the world first hated Jesus. Remember Jesus talking about that? I think the key is “without cause” which we see a couple of times in this psalm. If, indeed, there is cause, if our brother has something against us, we are supposed to drop everything and “first be reconciled” to him. (Matthew 8:23-26)
We must be careful, however, when discerning this. Just because some hate us doesn’t mean we have done anything wrong – IN THE EYES OF THE LORD. Jesus was murdered because some felt he did wrong. Same with all the apostles. That, however, was in the eyes of wicked men.
So, back to our questions. Do you have people like this in your life? People whom you have tried to reconcile with yet who still persecute you? Have you clearly examined the charges, in the court of Jesus, to render yourself blameless? If so, are there still those who intend to harm you?
Again, if you are serious about the gospel and the Great Commission, there are. Some may be passionate about attacking you. What then? Is Psalm 35 intended to be an example for us? Are we to consider this as not only a legitimate alternative for action but an actual course of action that we are REQUIRED to take? Make no mistake, this is not the only Psalm like this. Read Psalm 18 carefully, for example.
I think we are required to pray like this. Still, something about it seems wrong, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s not the Psalm. Maybe it’s our view of God and justice. In fact, Psalm 89:14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.” These very words are repeated in Psalm 97:2. Likewise, we find it in 9:7-8, 33:5, Isaiah 9:7, 28:17, and Jeremiah 9:24. Plus many other places. Look for “righteousness and justice” together. You’ll be surprised.
God is love, right? But that love does not require him to turn a blind eye to justice. In fact, justice is a bigger deal to God than you and I think. A far bigger deal. Just look at these words of Jesus to see if he isn’t serious:
Matthew 18:6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Gruesome. Yet, these are words from the Lamb of God.
So. Psalm 35. Is this a prayer for you and me? Or is it not?
Father, teach me to pray. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers