|Walking With God|
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.
1 – 4
Why do people do evil things? It’s an age-old question. David’s “oracle”, which usually means an official declaration from God, answers that question first by calling it a “transgression.” A transgression is a willful act of disobedience to the Law and character of God. The behavior of the “wicked” is not an accident. They didn’t mess up without knowing it consciously.
The second part of the answer involves the interior thought life of the individual and the relationship of self to God.
Paul said: (Romans 12:3-4) For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. The problem with those who reject a relationship with God is that they aren’t thinking sensibly. They lack a correct view of God’s character: “dread” of God—they don’t recognize His purity, and they lack a correct sense of their own character. Romans 3:23 says “all have missed the mark and fallen short of the character of God” (my interpretation).
The Apostle John wrote: (1 John 1:8-10) If we say, "We have no sin," we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So Step One is a false sense who God is, and who we are. We believe lies about ourselves that we’ve “got it together”.
Step Two is about words (verse 3). Your thoughts lead you to be malicious and deceptive. Malicious means you mean someone else harm for your good and deceptive means you lie about it! Even when they are all alone, with no friends to impress, their thoughts go towards things not in God’s character.
Step Three then is about actions. Once you start believing so thoroughly in your own goodness you actually stop being good—and you also stop being wise, which suggests actions that will lead towards good.
Step Four then is a giving in to a lifestyle that rejects God and good (verse 4) and then Step Five is your lifestyle becomes a life-path that leads you further away from good. You can’t just opt out. If you reject God and good you will do evil.
So now David turns from the wicked for a moment to contrast that to the wonderful character of God:
5 – 9
(Song: “Your Love Oh Lord”)
This section is such a wonderful praise of who God is: you can’t out love God (reaches to the heavens), you can’t be more faithful than God, you can’t be more right than God (to the highest mountain), and you can’t out think God (His judgments are so deep they are unfathomable).
In verses 7 – 9 David tells of how those qualities of God can be applied to the life: refuge, abundance, refreshment, and light. All these things can be found in David’s greater Son: Messiah Jesus:
Refuge: John 10:28-30 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.
Abundance: John 10:10 I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. NKJV
Refreshment: John 7:37-39 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." NKJV
Light: “I am the light of the world.” John 8:12
So now we turn to the practical prayer—“God apply all this wonderful stuff to us to help us keep faith in You when surrounded by an evil age that wants nothing to do with You.”
10 – 12
If you make your decision to let your life be ruled by a relationship with Jesus Christ, God “clothes” you with the character of Jesus (Galatians 3:27). David’s prayer is that his thought patterns, speech patterns, and life patterns would be like God’s character.
The idea of verse 11 is that the character of the wicked would not prevail (ie “put the foot on the neck in victory”) or that the temptation of that kind of life would draw us away from God. As far as our character—evil has been done away with on the cross.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. NKJV