As promised yesterday, we will read Psalm 35 again, and then I will make some comments. Thank you to those who responded to my offer yesterday and given me their thoughts, much appreciated.
Psalm 35 is one of a handful of what Bible experts call an ‘imprecatory’ Psalm (see if you can show off your knowledge by trying to slip this new word into a conversation sometime soon!) – that is a Psalm where the writer calls for punishment and judgement on those who go against him or perhaps God.
In one sense such Psalms contain very human reactions (if we are honest) when we are treated unfairly by others. There is a natural urge to get our own back, in word or deed, against those who hurt us. “Revenge is sweet”, some might say, and a lot of the world works like that, you see ‘tit for tat’ all around us.
But for the believer, something inside us tells us that we shouldn’t be like that, and we look at the example of Jesus, who wasn’t like that, who forgave people, even those who put Him to death on the cross. But such an attitude often seems a long way from where we truly are. And yet we also know that evil behaviour and malicious words can be so destructive, (‘gloat’ in vs,19 & 26 is such a nasty trait); and if there is something called justice, then wrongs do need to be righted. I was struck afresh by the pain that David feels in particular in verses 10-18, that having prayed and wept with those who were ill, they did not repay his kindness when he stumbled, but rather slandered and mocked him – that must have hurt.
Also we need to remember that David is God’s chosen one (and of course even more so the Lord Jesus, the son of David), and so going against David or Jesus is like going against God Himself.So perhaps a Psalm like this one gives us permission to agonise over these dilemmas before the Lord.
Do note very importantly that in all of this David himself is not going to carry out revenge himself. He knows that the Lord had previously said, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay’ (Deuteronomy Ch.32 v.35) and quoted later by the apostle Paul in Romans Ch.12 v.19. And so at several points during this Psalm, having spoken of his hurt, he keeps returning to the Lord in prayer or praise or simple trust (vs.9-10, vs.17-18 vs.22-24, 28). He keeps handing the situation over to the Lord trusting that He will deal with things in His own way and in His own time.
I have so much still to learn…
In our cycle of prayer, let us remember in our prayers today,- Beatrix, and Bennet and Emelia- Tina Tibbett