Contend, O Lord, with Those Who Contend with Me

In the Psalmist’s day, when people prayed to God for help, it was often from the threat of bodily harm. The threat of war was a constant reality under which the ancients lived. Psalm 35 beautifully and powerfully captures this Psalmists prayer for deliverance. The images of war invoked were not metaphorical. They were all too real.

Psalm 35:1-10

“​1 Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me!
2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
and rise up to help me!
3 Draw the spear and javelin
against my pursuers;
say to my soul,
“I am your salvation.”
4 Let them be put to shame and dishonor
who seek after my life.
Let them be turned back and confounded
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 life.
8 Let ruin come on them unawares.
And let the net that they hid ensnare them;
let them fall in it—to their ruin.
9 Then my soul shall rejoice in the LORD,
exulting in his deliverance.
10 All my bones shall say,
“O LORD, who is like you?
You deliver the weak
from those too strong for them,
the weak and needy from those who despoil them.”   NRSV

The gift the Psalmist leaves with us is the knowledge that praying for God’s assistance in time of trouble, regardless of the source of the trouble, has stood the test of time. If prayer didn’t work for the people who prayed it would have died out as a worthless ritual of the naive many millennia ago.

But it didn’t! Twenty-five hundred to three thousand years later, we still pray, we still ask God to “say to our souls, ‘I am your salvation.’”

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