Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Praying For Relief

Psalm 35:1-28

A Psalm of David.

“Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.  Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.  Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” (Psalm 35:1-3)

Saul had turned on David, doing everything in his power to kill him.  David asks God to intervene on his behalf, to stand like an armed guard against David’s enemies. So that they cannot get to him, while giving David the awareness that God is caring for him. 

“Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.  Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them.  Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.  For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.  Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.” (Psalm 35:4-8)

David had done nothing to provoke Saul’s ire, yet he had sent the army to destroy him, offering rewards for his capture.  David prayed that they would find the way too dangerous to continue, and that God interfered with their efforts causing them to face destruction as result of their effort and them find themselves embarrassed for their efforts to destroy him.   

An examination of Saul’s efforts to kill David reveals that Saul’s efforts to capture David gave the Philistines the opportunity to invade the land, and Saul was forced to break off his pursuit.  Twice, David had the opportunity to kill Saul and didn’t publicly humiliating Saul that he was so obviously attempting to murder and innocent man.

“And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.  All my bones shall say, LORD, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?” (Psalm 35:9-10)

David had refused to kill Saul and eliminate his enemy because God had chosen Saul as king.   Nevertheless, he would rejoice to have God take away the threat and give him a sense of security.    The release of stress would affect him to the core, causing even his bones to feel better. 

“False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.  They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.   But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.  I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.

But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not: With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.” (Psalm 35:11-16)

Time after time, David had gone to the rescue of some community or city that was under attack, knowing it left him exposed to an attack by Saul.  Several times the leaders of those communities or cities then betrayed David in and attempt curry favor with Saul.  After David had protected his herds and property, Nabal accused David of being no more than a runaway slave and his men as common thieves and threw a party about having embarrassed David. 

“Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.  I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.

Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.  For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.  Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.” (Psalm 35:17-21)

David asks how long God will continue to ignore their treatment of him.  After all, David would praise God for deliverance, while  Nabal and others were just glorying in their ability to be hateful and rude.  They were deliberately doing wrong, scheming how to violate God’s commands and spreading false rumors.

This thou hast seen, O LORD: keep not silence: O LORD, be not far from me.  Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.  Judge me, O LORD my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.  Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up.  Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me.” (Psalm 35:22-26)

David was not telling God anything he didn’t already know.  He was just asking him to take action against the obvious wrongs that were being done.  He asks that they would not feel God was blessing their sin or brag about their successes in destroying him.  Instead he asks that they would be ashamed for having attacked him.   

“Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.  And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.” (Psalm 35:27-28)

Many of the people understood that Saul’s attacks on David were unjustified and openly supported David.  He asks that they be allowed to see God’s protection and rejoice that they were right in supporting him.  David himself would testify as to how God had blessed and protected him.  

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