Asking God to Be God

Today’s reading is Psalm 35.

The first few verses of Psalm 35 seem odd to us. They picture God as lawyer and warrior. Someone is contending against me (and that is actually a legal term), contend against them for me. Someone is fighting against me, rise up and fight them for me. He really digs into the warrior metaphor in vss. 2-3, asking God to take up shields and weapons, and saying to David, “I will be your salvation!”

Then there are vss. 5-6 asking the Lord to have His angel chase the enemies away like chaff before the wind (yes, you should remember Psalm 1:4 here). What is going on here?

Let’s not read this in a vacuum. Look in Exodus 23:20-33. I’ll provide some excerpts.

Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared for you…But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries…I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you…

David didn’t just make up his prayer on the spot. He wasn’t just thinking of all the things he could say and created these ideas. David knew the Torah.

What is he doing in these prayers? He is asking God to be God. He is asking God to be for him, what He promised to be for Israel. He is asking God to be what God has already said He would be for His people.

Do you want to pray more effectively? Take a page out of David’s book and ask God to be in your life what God has declared He is.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 35.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post!

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Judge My Enemies

Today’s reading is Psalm 7.

In the New Testament, we are told to love our enemies and pray for them. Thus, when we read David’s request for his enemies to be judged, that leaves a bad taste in our mouths. Is something wrong? Is this a change between the Old Covenant and the New? There are two principles that help me with this. First, as we will say again and again, psalms are snapshots of the emotions a psalmist was experiencing in a given moment. They are not doctoral dissertations about doctrinal dilemmas. David was facing enemies. No doubt he was angry with them and confused about why God hadn’t done anything yet. The key to notice is what David did with these emotions. He took them to God in prayer. He didn’t take them to Cush in battle. This is especially so if Cush is bringing these charges and attacks against David when he was running from Saul. Imagine the fear, anger, sadness, distress, anxiety David must have felt during that time. But he never took his own vengeance (well, almost with Nabal, but Abigail helped his calmer self prevail). He took these prayers and desires to God in prayer, and he let God decide if Cush needed to be judged. Second, notice his statement about those who refuse to repent (vs. 12, ESV). Notice that David sees not just an enemy but a wicked man who is pregnant with mischief and giving birth to evil. Yes, we are to love our enemies and pray for them that they may bring glory to God, but there is a place to recognize that someone who is pursuing a path of sin is an enemy of God and judgment is the right outcome for them. None of us want that. We know God doesn’t want that. He sent Jesus to die for them just as He did for everyone else. But those who, like Pharaoh and other enemies of God who will not relinquish their sin and repent, will be judged. One of the comforts of serving the righteous Judge as our God is knowing He will be faithful to judge those who wage war against us and persecute us without repentance. Praying that God will do what He has promised in these circumstances is allowed even under the New Covenant (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12).

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 7.

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