Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me.
Take up shield and armour;
arise and come to my aid.
Brandish spear and javelin
against those who pursue me.
Say to me,
‘I am your salvation.’
May those who seek my life
be disgraced and put to shame;
may those who plot my ruin
be turned back in dismay.
May they be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the Lord driving them away;
may their path be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
Since they hid their net for me without cause(Ps. 35:1-10 NIV)
and without cause dug a pit for me,
may ruin overtake them by surprise –
may the net they hid entangle them,
may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.
Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord
and delight in his salvation.
My whole being will exclaim,
‘Who is like you, Lord?
You rescue the poor from those too strong for them,
the poor and needy from those who rob them.’
The Psalmist uses metaphors borrowed from the judicial, legal, military and hunting world to help describe how he feels about his present circumstances. He begins with a legal term ‘contend’ but then uses a military term ‘fight’ to plead with the Lord for help. The covenant LORD is the warrior God and the Psalmist calls upon the Lord to take up shield and armour, defensive equipment, and attack equipment, spear and javelin, to fight against those who pursue the Psalmist. The weapons symbolise the Lord’s readiness to defend His people. The Psalmist needs to hear a word from the Lord. He asks to be reminded that the Lord is His salvation. Did he not already know this? There are many truths that we know but we need to hear them frequently because we consistently need encouragement.
The Psalmist wants the Lord to bring vengeance down on his enemies. He calls judgement in the forms of them knowing shame, being reduced to chaff and their paths made dark and slippery. The shame is military defeat, being ‘reduced to chaff’ is being made worthless, and ‘their paths made dark and slippery’ is that they might know troubles and uncertainty. In the end the Psalmist wants them brought to ruin and overtaken by surprise. The enemy has attacked the Psalmist with impunity and never expects to be called to account. The trap that had been made for the Psalmist should become a snare to the enemy. This type of language may seem strange to us, but the apostle Paul quotes such language in
What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written:
‘God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that could not see
and ears that could not hear,
to this very day.’
And David says:
‘May their table become a snare and a trap,(Rom. 11:7-10 NIV)
a stumbling-block and a retribution for them.
May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
and their backs be bent for ever.’
This kind of language reminds us that we are engaged in a spiritual battle
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.(Eph. 6:10-12 NIV)
As the Psalmist anticipates the Lord’s deliverance, he also anticipates the moment when he will praise the Lord. He will rejoice and delight in the salvation of the Lord. His whole being will exclaim the uniqueness of the Lord. This is not half-hearted praise, but as the Psalm 103 says
Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.(Ps. 103:1 NIV)
The poor and the needy are not in a position to defend themselves against those who would exploit them, but the Lord comes to their aid. The anticipation of deliverance comes from the confidence that the Psalmist has gained because he has brought all his trouble before the Lord in prayer.
Lord God defeat those who oppose the work of the Kingdom of God. Surely they plot in vain when they decide to oppose You. A secular society has overtaken this nation and we live regardless of Your Word. Lord be pleased to hear our prayer, may we find success in the preaching of the Gospel. Lord we pray for our nation that this virus may cause many people to turn to You. We will praise You for Your great work of redemption, continue to save us that Christ might be glorified in the congregations of Your people for Christ our Saviour’s sake in whose name we pray. Amen