Father God, I really want to know you. It is my purpose and passion, my greatest need and most urgent desire.
Read PSALM 35
1 Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me.
2 Take up shield and armor;
arise and come to my aid.
3 Brandish spear and javelin[a]
against those who pursue me.
Say to me,
“I am your salvation.”
4 May those who seek my life
be disgraced and put to shame;
may those who plot my ruin
be turned back in dismay.
5 May they be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the Lord driving them away;
6 may their path be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
7 Since they hid their net for me without cause
and without cause dug a pit for me,
8 may ruin overtake them by surprise—
may the net they hid entangle them,
may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.
9 Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord
and delight in his salvation.
10 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.”
11 Ruthless witnesses come forward;
they question me on things I know nothing about.
12 They repay me evil for good
and leave me like one bereaved.
13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth
and humbled myself with fasting.
When my prayers returned to me unanswered,
14 I went about mourning
as though for my friend or brother.
I bowed my head in grief
as though weeping for my mother.
15 But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee;
assailants gathered against me without my knowledge.
They slandered me without ceasing.
16 Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked;[b]
they gnashed their teeth at me.
17 How long, Lord, will you look on?
Rescue me from their ravages,
my precious life from these lions.
18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly;
among the throngs I will praise you.
19 Do not let those gloat over me
who are my enemies without cause;
do not let those who hate me without reason
maliciously wink the eye.
20 They do not speak peaceably,
but devise false accusations
against those who live quietly in the land.
21 They sneer at me and say, “Aha! Aha!
With our own eyes we have seen it.”
22 Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent.
Do not be far from me, Lord.
23 Awake, and rise to my defense!
Contend for me, my God and Lord.
24 Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God;
do not let them gloat over me.
25 Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!”
or say, “We have swallowed him up.”
26 May all who gloat over my distress
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who exalt themselves over me
be clothed with shame and disgrace.
27 May those who delight in my vindication
shout for joy and gladness;
may they always say, “The Lord be exalted,
who delights in the well-being of his servant.”
28 My tongue will proclaim your righteousness,
your praises all day long.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow can you thank God for close friends and family who have stood by you in hard times? Ask God to bless them richly in this new week.
Have you ever experienced a personal relationship gone sour? The psalmist knows what it feels like. People he formerly treated as friends (v 14) have turned against him. Instead of friendship there is now personal attack (v 1), threat (vs 4–8), unjust treatment (vs 11–16), and even ridicule (vs 19–21).
It’s easy to understand how painful this is, but even worse is that God appears to be indifferent (v 17). The psalmist has no doubt that God could do something about the pain that he is in (v 10), but right now that is not his experience. Have you ever been in that place?
The psalmist does the only thing he can: he prays. He protests about the injustice. He pours out his pain. He holds nothing back, but passionately, honestly, and at length tells it like it is. This is no theological treatise on how to pray for your enemies (Matthew 5:43–45), but a raw outpouring of frustration.
It’s okay to pray like that. God can handle it. In fact, maybe it’s not until we pray like this that we are really praying at all.
‘And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins’ (Mark 11:25). Is there anyone who has wronged you, that you need to forgive today? How will you communicate that forgiveness?
Lord, at times I do feel I am being picked on unfairly. Please keep me from being self-centered and bitter, and teach me lessons in my struggles.
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