August 27: Psalm 35

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It is sobering to see the extent to which David, 'the man after God's own heart', spent so much of his life embroiled in conflict. From the obvious tensions between him and his brothers when we first meet him, through his encounter with Goliath, the persecution he experienced at the hand of Saul, to the tensions that marred his own family to the very end of his life. For him, the 'rest and peace' promised to God's covenant people must have felt like a distant dream. So it's perhaps not surprising that the theme of conflict features prominently in his lyrical reflections on life. And as we come to another of his psalms today, that theme is very much to the fore.

It's a prayer for God to fight on his behalf. Using language that speaks of God as the Divine Warrior, David pleads with him to come to his aid. But interestingly he prays, 'Say to my soul, "I am your salvation"' (35.3) - a hint, perhaps, that in the intensity of conflict there were times when his faith wavered.

In many ways everything that David says here about his own circumstances is an echo of what every Christian experiences in their own situation in life. Although conflict may not come in the political and military forms as was true for the king, we soon discover that trouble is very much a feature of normal Christian living. And even though the details may differ, David's experience and ours have this in common: behind every form of opposition we face in life as God's children there is the dark face of the enemy of souls who will use every means at his disposal to unnerve the people of God.

In typical Old Testament fashion, David goes on to pour out prayers of imprecation on those who oppose him - even to the point of rejoicing when his prayer is answered (35.4-10) - but that jars with our New Testament sensibilities. Are we not supposed to 'love our enemies and pray for those who despitefully use us'? The answer to that comes in what David goes on to say in the remainder of the psalm as he describes how he has been betrayed; but is confident that he will ultimately be vindicated (35.11-28). He knows that God's righteousness and justice will prevail.

However, what David could not have known - at least not in all its fullness - was the way that God would indeed prove this true. Namely that God's own Son, the true King and Saviour of the world, would go through all that David went through and worse besides to usher in his promised salvation. Once and for all he would defeat our darkest foe and through his shed blood he would guarantee the everlasting protection of all who take refuge in him. Today will be another day of battle; but Jesus is our sure defence!

Posted August 30, 2010 @ 10:15 AM by Mark Johnston
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