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Psalm 35

Rachel Mason

1 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.

10 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?”

11 Malicious witnesses rise up;
they ask me of things that I do not know.

12 They repay me evil for good;
my soul is bereft.

13 But I, when they were sick—
I wore sackcloth;
I afflicted myself with fasting;
I prayed with head bowed on my chest.

14 I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother;
as one who laments his mother,
I bowed down in mourning.

15 But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered;
they gathered together against me;
wretches whom I did not know
tore at me without ceasing;

16 like profane mockers at a feast,
they gnash at me with their teeth.

17 How long, O Lord, will you look on?
Rescue me from their destruction,
my precious life from the lions!

18 I will thank you in the great congregation;
in the mighty throng I will praise you.

19 Let not those rejoice over me
who are wrongfully my foes,
and let not those wink the eye
who hate me without cause.

20 For they do not speak peace,
but against those who are quiet in the land
they devise words of deceit.

21 They open wide their mouths against me;
they say, “Aha, Aha!
Our eyes have seen it!”

22 You have seen, O Lord; be not silent!

O Lord, be not far from me!

23 Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication,
for my cause, my God and my Lord!

24 Vindicate me, O Lord, my God,
according to your righteousness,
and let them not rejoice over me!

25 Let them not say in their hearts,
“Aha, our heart's desire!”
Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.”

26 Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether

who rejoice at my calamity!
Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor
who magnify themselves against me!

27 Let those who delight in my righteousness

shout for joy and be glad
and say evermore,
“Great is the Lord,
who delights in the welfare of his servant!”

28 Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
and of your praise all the day long.

Psalm 35 begins verse 1 where we all should begin - asking the Lord to contend and to fight for us. It is easy to take our troubles, our struggles, our problems into our own hands and fight them with our own strength. We must begin where this psalm does, and petition the Lord to fight on our behalf as we stand still (Exodus 14:14).
It is also easy to dwell on the enemy in front of us and how they are being unjust, just as the psalm does for the next few verses. We may indeed be in unfair circumstances, but our gaze can never stay on our problems, no matter how great. When our sights are on our troubles, not on Jesus, we will sink, just as Peter when he takes his eyes off Jesus to look instead at storm raging around him (Matthew 14:27-31).
Instead, as we look at Jesus, we should worship. We declare who we know the Lord to be. The psalmist, in verse 10, declares that the Lord rescues the poor from those too strong for them. He knows this to be true, just as we know and can praise aspects of Jesus.
Even as we keep our eyes on Jesus and ask the Lord to fight for us, we still have moments when we ask, "O Lord, how long will you look on?" (v.17). When we are in the middle of a struggle, the moments, days, weeks, months, and even years seem interminable. We know that the Lord will intervene in His timing (2 Peter 3:8), but we still ask. The psalmist shows that it is okay to ask this question, to wonder when God will intervene, and still trust that He will - and affirm this trust through worship.
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