March 29: Psalm 35

March 29: Psalm 35

Plea against the forces of darkness

Long meter double 88.88 D   Before the Throne of God Above
In Christ Alone

Plead, Lord, against contending foes, and fight with them who fight with me.

Take hold of buckler and of shield; rise up and my defender be.

Draw out the spear and stop the way against the men pursuing me;

And to my soul in mercy say, “I am salvation unto Thee.”

Let those who seek to take my soul themselves be humbled, shamed of face;

Let them be thwarted and turned back who are devising my disgrace.

Let them be chaff before the wind, Jehovah’s angel driving them;

All dark and slipp’ry be their way, Jehovah’s angel chasing them.

Without a cause their net they hid to take me in the pit prepared.

Without a cause they dug a pit in which my soul might be ensnared.

Let him the unexpected meet; let him be caught within the snare

Which he has spread for other feet, and fall to desolation there.

My soul shall in the Lord rejoice, in His salvation boastful be;

Exulting, all my bones will say, “Jehovah, who is like to Thee?

For Thou the poor deliverest from one who is for him too strong;

The poor and needy Thou dost spare from one who’d rob or do him wrong.”

False witnesses against me stood, of things I knew not charges made.

They gave me evil for my good; to rob my soul they ill repaid.

But I, in sackcloth I was clad, when they in sickness suffered pain;

I made my soul with fasting sad; my prayers return to me again.

As though for friend or brother near, in their distress I grieved aloud;

As one who mourns a mother dear with deepest sorrow I was bowed.

But when I stumbled they rejoiced, and secretly they met to plot;

And injured ones their malice voiced, with slander tore me, ceasing not.

As godless jesters at a feast they with their teeth have gnashed at me.

How long, O Lord, wilt Thou look on? Wilt Thou unheeding all this see?

From their destruction pluck my soul, and snatch my life from lions strong,

Then with the saints I’ll give Thee thanks and praise Thee in the mighty throng.

Let not my wrongful enemies raise over me their joyful cries,

Nor those whose hate I merit not with secret scorning wink their eyes.

They speak not peace; deceit they plot against the men of peaceful mien;

They open wide their mouth at me and say, “Aha! Our eyes have seen!

Lord, Thou hast seen; then be not still! O Lord, be not far from my sight!

Stir up Thyself! To justice wake! My God, my Lord, uphold my right!

Judge me in justice, Lord my God, and let them not rejoice in me,

Nor say in heart, “He is devour’d! Behold, our soul’s desire we see!”

Let them be shamed and humbled all who joy at my calamity;

Let them be clothed with shame, disgrace, who magnify themselves o’er me.

But let them shout and loud rejoice who long to see me justified;

And let them say with ceaseless voice, “The Lord be ever magnified!”

“Because He loves His servant’s peace!” And thus my tongue will meditate

Upon Thy perfect righteousness, and all the day Thy praise relate.

So let them shout and loud rejoice who long to see me justified;

And let them say with ceaseless voice, “The Lord be ever magnified!”

The meaning of Psalm 35 is not difficult to discern, because it is one of those psalms for which the New Testament explicitly provides the proper “voice” and setting. The voice speaking in Psalm 35 is the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and the psalm’s theological context is the drama of His Passion and death. The Passion of the Lord and the subsequent suffering of His Church are not mere historical phenomena, He told us; they are rooted, rather, in a point of theology—man’s deliberate ignorance of, even his resolved hatred of, God (John 15:21,23,24). At this place in His discourse (in the Gospel of John), our Lord explicitly appealed to Psalm 35, to show that this hatred and this persecution by the world are a realization of prophecy (“they hated me without a cause”). Thus, Jesus Himself gave us His own interpretation of our psalm. The vindication sought by this psalm is not some sort of petty revenge. This is the prayer of Christ doing battle with the forces of sin and death, looking forward to the hour of His victory, when His very body, brought down to the grave, will rise again in the paschal victory. Salvation, as understood by Christians, is attained by God’s vindication of His own righteousness in the Resurrection of Christ. This truth is the key to our psalm. It is the prayer of those, in Christ, still struggling as they fill up in their flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ (Col. 1:24). In Christ, theirs is this prayer for victory over sinful ignorance, hatred, and death. (Reardon, p.67-68)

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

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