Summary: Once you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior - what next? How do you actually move forward in your life with God? There are forces that want to keep you from doing well, and we explore them in these two psalms.
In your desire to serve and walk with the Lord did you know there are those who do not want you to succeed? There are forces arrayed against you to keep you from loving, mirroring, and serving the Lord. These forces are not friendly, they don’t mean well and cannot be reasoned with—yet as we’ll see in Psalm 35, sometimes we are called to serve our enemies even though they want to take our lives.
1 – 8
David is facing an unknown enemy. In his case they may literally have been trying to take his life. In our case we have the Devil, our own brokenness, and the culture around us all conspiring to “steal kill and destroy” our spiritual lives.
I love how David puts this: “Oppose my opponents, Lord.” This is a good prayer for us. It makes me think of standing in a fast flowing stream, an opposing current, that wants to carry me away. But God in our lives can be like a strong rock that we can hold fast to and not be swept away.
In verse 2 he talks about a large and small shield. The small shield could be used for hand to hand combat while the large shield covers the entire body—something you can hide behind. The picture here is God breaking through the enemy ranks to provide help and protection to us.
Further, verse 3 talks about offensive weapons—not just protection but actively fighting against the enemy. He follows with some very picturesque language about how that deliverance should take place and how quickly the enemy would be driven away.
The enemy, the flesh, and the culture have devised all sorts of nets for us to fall into—all sorts of temptations to do things not God’s way.
This reminds me so much of 1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.
That is our protection and our offensive weapons—to trust in a faithful God and look for the way out. It might be to phone a friend, to pray, to sing, to leave the situation, to get into the Word, or to get some other help—but it’s there for us.
9 – 10
We need to realize we are not as strong as we think we are. We need God’s help all of the time!
Now look at this next section—because even in the face of opponents it shows us how to mirror God’s character.
11 – 16
The Apostle Paul echoed this section this way:
Romans 12:17-21 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. NIV
Even when you reach out in love when someone who wants to harm you is in trouble, don’t expect them to return the favor when you are hurting. In the end we don’t look to others in the culture to help but only to God.
17 – 26
The enemy, our flesh, and the culture will look to any opportunity to accuse us. That’s why Satan is called “the accuser of the brethren.” Sometimes it is deserved; sometimes it is just made up. We are not perfect, but we love a perfect Lord who died for our mistakes and is in the process of making us like Him. He is our “defense” as it says in verse 23.
27 – 28
Verses 27 and 28 could be the congregation—those brothers and sisters in the body of Christ who are rooting for you. Lean on them, ask them to pray for you in your struggles and know that God is also rooting and working for you!
So what is opposing your walk with God? What is keeping you from going all in with Him? Is it your fears, your weaknesses, or something in the values in the world around you? Be bold to pray as David prays and watch for God’s vindication and victory!
This psalm, by David, is broken up into three parts: 1) a recognition of the thought patterns of those who have rejected what is right, 2) an adoration of how wonderful and righteous God is, and then 3) a practical prayer to keep the psalmist from moving away from God, and to stay on the path towards Him.