Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me
Psalm 35:1-16 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Prayer for Rescue from Enemies. A Psalm of David.
Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
2 Take hold of buckler and shield
And rise up for my help.
3 Draw also the spear and the battle-axe to meet those who pursue me;
Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”
4 Let those be ashamed and dishonored who seek my life;
Let those be turned back and humiliated who devise evil against me.
5 Let them be like chaff before the wind,
With the angel of the Lord driving them on.
6 Let their way be dark and slippery,
With the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
7 For without cause they hid their net for me;
Without cause they dug a pit for my soul.
8 Let destruction come upon him unawares,
And let the net which he hid catch himself;
Into that very destruction let him fall.
9 And my soul shall rejoice in the Lord;
It shall exult in His salvation.
10 All my bones will say, “Lord, who is like You,
Who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him,
And the afflicted and the needy from him who robs him?”
11 Malicious witnesses rise up;
They ask me of things that I do not know.
12 They repay me evil for good,
To the bereavement of my soul.
13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth;
I humbled my soul with fasting,
And my prayer kept returning to my bosom.
14 I went about as though it were my friend or brother;
I bowed down mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother.
15 But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered themselves together;
The smiters whom I did not know gathered together against me,
They slandered me without ceasing.
16 Like godless jesters at a feast,
They gnashed at me with their teeth.
text the psalmist said: Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. We talked about how one of the Old Testament names of God is Jehovah- Shalom or Yahweh- Shalom, the Lord is peace. In John 14:27 Jesus says:
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” To seek and pursue peace is not to pursue a thing but rather to pursue the
person, Jesus Christ. Today the psalmist begins: Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
Fight against those who fight against me. Take hold of buckler and shield And rise up for my help. These to psalms would seem to be at conflict with each other, but in truth there is a peace we have when we allow or count on God to fight our battles rather than fighting them in our own strength.
There are two principles which are supported in our trusting God for the fight. First Romans 8:19 says: Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. In Matthew 5:43-45, Jesus Himself says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Although David, the psalmist, lived long before Jesus, he speaks of following Jesus instruction. He says: But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting, And my prayer kept returning to my bosom. I went about as though it were my friend or brother; I bowed down mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother. Trusting God to fight our battles for us removes the burden of holding negative and ill feeling toward others. We simply ask that we are delivered and leave the fate of others to God.
The second principle that is fulfilled when we trust God with our battle is found in Romans 16:19-20. I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. When we seek and pursue the God of peace we can have confidence knowing that He Himself will crush satan. It is important that we remember, in our conflicts, that: our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) Though our problems may be connected to human adversaries, evil comes from satan himself and his accomplices. In trusting God we are certain that the battle is fought on the spiritual level, not just in the physical realm. David though, was a warrior and he understood the benefit of trusting God in the physical battles as well. When as a young shepherd boy he was about to face the giant Goliath, he said: “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine. Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God. The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” David was a warrior. We too are called to be warriors. One of the names of Jesus is Captain of the Host. Jesus is the captain, the commander of God’s army, who better to trust with our battles?
Our lives, like David’s will be filled with battles. We will have enemies who rise up against us. Jesus never promised that our life would be without difficulties. In fact He says: “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30) There is a cost to following Jesus. We must give up some things in this life and we will have those who rise up against us and persecute us for “Jesus sake”, the reward though, both here and in eternity are far beyond what we sacrifice. The psalmist says: And my soul shall rejoice in the Lord; It shall exult in His salvation. All my bones will say, “Lord, who is like You, Who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him, And the afflicted and the needy from him who robs him?” In another psalm of trust and confidence in the Lord, David says: Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand. Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God. They have bowed down and fallen, But we have risen and stood upright. (Psalm 20) As we trust God in faith; faith being: the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) allowing Him to fight our battles, our faith grows from unseen to seen and unknown to known. We like David can say:
Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed. And my soul shall rejoice in the Lord;
It shall exult in His salvation. Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit. Amen