Invite you to turn to Psalm 35 in your Bibles. And as you are doing so it's like to give a warm welcome to those of our family who are watching this via simulcast in the core. We're grateful for technology that enables us to worship is one family here this morning. You looking at Psalm 35 today? We're continuing our summer series on the book of Psalms Psalms are often called the prayer book of the Bible a guide book on prayer. Today will be looking at a certain type of Psalm one that comes up every so often in this book and the end goal of these sermons as we talked about the book of Psalms. Is ultimately to teach us to pray. Not just for the goal of prayer itself but to know God more in a deeper way and maybe you're like me sometimes we feel like we struggle and our prayer lives individual and corporate and we can come to the songs with the comfort that they will teach us how to pray we can learn from them when the truth is we do need to be taught to pray. The Psalms help impart as we'll see this morning to teach us to pray spectrum of different types of prayers. Sore read from Psalm 35.
Contends. Oh Lord with those who contend with me fight against those who fight against me take hold of shield and Buckler and rise for my help draw the spirit jobling against my pursuers say to my soul. I am your salvation. Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life. Let them be turned back and disappointed who devised evil against me. Let them be like chaff before the wind with the angel of the Lord driving them away. Let their way be dark and slippery.
With the angel of the Lord pursuing them for without cause they hit their net for me without cause they dug a pit for my life. Let Destruction come upon him when he does not know it and let the net that he hid ensnare him. Let him fall into it to his destruction. Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord exulting in his salvation. All my bones shall say oh Lord who is like you delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him the poor and needy from him who robs him malicious witnesses rise up. They asked me if things that I do not know they repay me evil for good. My soul is bereft but I when they were sick, I were sackcloth. I Afflicted myself with fasting. I prayed with head bowed on my chest. I went about as though I grieve for my friend or my brother as one who laments his mother at downtown in the morning. But at my stumbling they rejoiced in gathered they gather together against me wretches whom I did not know tour at me without ceasing like profane mockers at a feast. The Nosh at me with their teeth how long oh Lord. Will you look on rescue me from their destruction my precious life from the Lions. I will thank you in the great congregation in the mighty throng. I will praise you let not those Rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes and let not those who wink the eye who hate me without cause for they do not speak peace. But against those who are quiet in the land. They devised words of Deceit. They open wide their mouths against me. They say aha hot or eyes have seen it you have seen a lord be not silent O Lord be not far away from me. Awake and Rouse yourself for my Vindication for my cause my God and my Lord vindicate me. Oh Lord my God, according to your righteousness and let them not rejoice over me, but them not saying their hearts, aha our hearts desire. Let them not say we have swallowed him up. Let them be put to shame and disappointed all together who Rejoice at my Calamity let them be closed with shame and dishonor who magnify themselves against me. Let those who Delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say Evermore great is the Lord who Delights in the welfare of his servant then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness in of your praise all the day long. Let's pray together.
Heavenly father as we meditate on these words, we pray that you would impress on our hearts by your spirit the truth behind them. Father we pray that you would reveal yourselves reveal yourself to us in a deeper way through this song here this morning. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.
Take a moment here to adjust my mic. Thank you, Brian.
Text brother. Tucson 35 is an imprecatory Psalm an imprecatory Psalm. It's not a word we use very often. Imprecatory means to utter a curse or to invoke damage or distress against someone or something. It is a song to rain down a curse on an individual. Now. These are definitely not songs that we may be used to these are harsh words says let them fall into a pit. Let their way be dark and slippery. Let Destruction come upon him when he does not know it it sounds harsh and brutal. Normally think of Psalms. We ought to think of Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want or Psalm 103 bless the Lord. Oh my soul and all that is within me bless His. Holy name. They're actually quite a few songs, like chapter 35 few examples being chapter 7 verse 6 says arise. Oh Lord in your anger lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies Chapter 58. Oh God break the teeth in the in their mouths Tara the fangs of the Young Lions. Oh Lord, let them vanish like water that runs away. Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime like the stillborn child who never sees the Sun? We're moving on it chapter 59 for the cursing and lies that they utter consume them and Rath consume them till they are no more that they may know that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the Earth.
Chapter 69 let their own table before them become a snare and when they are at peace, let it become a trap pour out your indignation upon them in that you're burning anger over take them add to the punishment upon punishment. May they have no acquittal from you. Psalm 109 may his children be fatherless and his wife a Widow made his children wander about him beg seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit. Are some intense visceral brutal imagery here? So what are we to do with these songs these imprecatory Psalms will people in their approach the scripture have taken a few approaches over the years yet have misinterpreted the intention behind they missed the point. First we can make the mistake of strict strictly spiritualizing them that they are prayers against Satan and evil forces. And while it's true that these prayers can be used in direct confrontation with the devil will notice that these songs are speaking of real people real human enemies. So we can't over spiritualize the original intention Behind These curses.
Secondly, we could see these as what's been described by some as a natural expression of anger. But ultimately dismiss these curses for being naive contemptible even devilish. Those are the words of CS Lewis. They understand something of God's holy nature and represent a natural response to Injustice. They show us that we live in a world of right and wrong, but the claim is that this isn't how a present-day Christian should respond. Some people would go even as far to say these words aren't inspired not inspired words of scripture. They're just the words of an angry man.
Or thirdly we can argue that the New Testament supersedes the imprecatory Psalms plus notifying them. Some people even make a false division in their minds between the Old Testament and New Testament the equate the Old Testament with the law and New Testament with Grace. Jesus words seem to contradict the imprecatory nature of these songs. It's true. He says in Luke 6 love your enemies do good to those. Who hate you. Paul in Romans 12 says bless those who persecute you bless and do not curse them. And we do see the theme in the New Testament that again and again repentance is met with forgiveness and Reconciliation to turning back of God's judgment. And we also see in the cross the meeting of justice and mercy our sins being a tone for but the blood of Christ but we can't just say that these prayers are just a defunct type of praying rendered obsolete by the New Testament commands to love our enemies cuz we'll see in the Old Testament that it has the same commands in regards to loving your enemies. Leviticus 19 love your neighbor as yourself, you might say all that's my neighbor though. It's not my enemy. What if we go back to the Exodus 23 says this if you meet your enemies are or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden you shall refrain from leaving him with it. You shall rescue it with him. Might do that might not be a practical application for most of us on our way home today. The intention behind it obviously says to love our enemies were helping our enemies Proverbs 24 do not rejoice when your enemy Falls and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles Proverbs 25 Paul quotes in Romans 12, if your enemy is hungry feed him if he is thirsty give him something to drink for by so doing you will Heap burning coals on his head. The Old Testament has a lot to say about caring for your enemies. Likewise the New Testament uses some of this imprecatory language and direct quotes from the Impractical real songs. Psalm 69 and 109 both are quoted in the New Testament nox1 Romans 11 you have other examples of Jesus Christ himself cursing a fig tree cursing cities where Miracles have happened cursing and Pharisees so curses the churches in Revelation if they continue in their crooked ways. Paul in Galatians using some pretty harsh language saying that even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to a gospel contrary to the one we preach to you let him be accursed.
1st Corinthians 16 if anyone has no love for the Lord let him be accursed.
2nd Timothy 4 Paul speaks of a particular individual named Alexander. It was a coppersmith. Paul says of him. He did me great harm. The Lord will repay him according to his deeds. poof
Revelation 18 verse 20 Rejoice over her oh heaven and you Saints and apostles and Prophets for God has given judgment for you against her. And then there's the real poignant picture of the martyrs crying out in Revelations 6 o Sovereign Lord. Holy and true how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the Earth.
Can we see these statements of Destruction in Judgment of both the OT and the New Testament? And any seeming awkwardness stemming from the Old Testament judgments cannot be displaced by the New Testament sore conclusion. Then can only be one thing these statements are all part of God's word authoritative with remember who wrote them and how they were written. The David was used by God. God wrote through David through the holy spirit in these words are in errant. 2nd Peter 1 reminds us that for no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man but men spoke from God as they were carried Along by the Holy Spirit and Paul again and 2nd Timothy 3 says all scripture is breathed out by God. So we would do well to submit to their Authority. And prayerfully consider how we might apply them to their our lives with the help of the Holy Spirit. But I hope to be helpful this morning and presenting a few ideas of how we can sort of grass these ideas of the Impractical read psalms. And there's three in particular like to look at.
As we were reading Psalm 35 realize that David is in Dire Straits. He's crying out. He's in pretty significant Juris. We need to realize that these curses that he's presenting in Psalm 35. They're not over insignificant personal hurts or grievances. One scholar put it like this. He says it's not like David got a parking ticket. This isn't about small insignificant daily Hang-Ups or issues like your parents not letting you stay out past curfew or your husband or wife not doing enough around the house. These prayers are asking the Lord to return like for like these are these are not insignificant issues Happening Here desert. This is a response to tragic blatant Injustice crimes against David and he cries out for justice.
I'd like to maybe suggest though that one of the reasons myself included here that has more recoil at such harsh language being used in scripture. Maybe the reason is for most of us is that we haven't experienced much Injustice in our life. At all you maybe we've been hurt by friends or family or things have been slightly unfair for us and certain situations, but not this kind of Injustice. These cries are coming from David. He's seriously legitimately oppressed.
We spent some time in Angola with a team of young adults a couple months ago. And being an African sort of makes you aware of some of the other situations that are our brothers and sisters are facing in Africa specifically.
And hearing about the current state of Christianity in Nigeria. For example, just any quick search on Google shows. Just what our brothers and sisters are going through in that country in some parts of the country. There are under constant threat. from Islamic herdsmen Who attack resulting in destruction of property in the churches and many deaths in their communities. This is true in Justice. living in a constant state of fear from direct enemy attack And likewise in Psalm 35 this this is no small deal that David. It's facing as well. secondly We also need to realize and Psalm 35 that David is asking for God to do what God has already promised to do. This is a realistic prayer we go back to someone which is often called the gateway to the entire book of Psalms. Read this blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked nor stand in the way of Sinners nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his Delight is in the law of the Lord and in all that he does he prospers. Later on, we read the wicked are not so but are like chaff that the wind drives away. The wicked will not stand in the judgment. So David is eluding in Psalm 35 all the way back to someone with someone has been saying all along God's promise of Justice blessing on the righteous curses on the wicked. It's essentially religion 101. So David is not asking for anything outside of what God is already said would take place. Thirdly, we need to understand that the psalmist David in this case is not flooding for Revenge. He's praying for vindication. One scholar put it like this. He says the prayer is not a vindictive response to personal injury, but an appeal to the Lord based on faith is appealing to the Lord. He wants the Lord to do the work to work out this judgment and salvation. He's leaving it up to him. If you look at David's life. He's not one that's bent out for bloody Revenge.
Yes, he was not perfect. But in first Samuel 26 David actually has the opportunity to take Saul's life someone who is by the definition for him out for his life, but he doesn't take revenge. He's not trying to play out his own Vendetta.
We see that these songs written by David. There's three things. There's a specific intention to ask God to hear his cry. So we'll see to stop some sort of Injustice that is being committed. And in some cases destroy his enemies.
Need to calm down up here. It's getting a little flying off here.
One scholar says it like this.
This song shows how the faithful should pray when they know that malicious people are seeking to harm them. Some the time we have left together. I want to look at Psalm 35 to a brief overview of the 28 verse is contained within it and closed with some application. Cuz we look at Psalm 35. We see the first three verses kind of set the tone. They provide an introduction. And they use two different metaphors.
My apologies these two different metaphors in providing this introduction. The first is this word contend David asking the Lord to contend for him against those who contend against David. This is a legal term meaning conduct a legal suit or case judicial term. We know this the end result David wanting to be acquitted of any guilt. He also says take hold of shield and buckler. These are two sizes of shield for protection one large one small providing Total Protection. There's it's asking of protection of the Lord. So there's this picture of David crying for help to the Lord using combat imagery and asking God to take up his cause you can see the desperation which with which David cries. He says say to my soul. I am your salvation. David is crying for Assurance and hope in the Lord. Later, we'll see in verses 13 and 14 that David had loved he had done good to those who betrayed him and now fight against him. The sympathy is at an end. And now he is asking the Lord to defend him. This is an introduction and couples with the last two verses of the song. Sometimes called sort of a plea and praise set a plea to the Lord resulting in Praise, which we'll talk a little bit more about that in the moment. To move on to verse 4 through 8 with the first set of imprecations David lays out his reasoning for asking the Lord to protect him. First of all being their attacks were without cause they had no good reason to attack David. They have dug a pit for his life. So David prays that they would feel that his pursuers would suffer disappointment and humiliation and finally destruction. Then versus nine and ten David looks forward to the answering of his prayers with joy and gratitude and since then my soul rejoice in the Lord. When is request sir answer? He's already? He's already looking ahead to the answer to his prayer.
Moving onto verses 11 to 16 David returns to describe more of the schemes of the wicked like we mentioned he makes special note and verse 13 that he had given them good says when they were sick, I wore sackcloth. I flicted myself with fasting. These are malicious Witnesses who but definition repay evil for good.
You can sense David's intensity growing and verses 17 and 18. How long oh Lord. Will you look on? There is seeming in action on the part of God here as the psalmist waits for the Lord to act. The waiting is difficult, especially considering the urgency of the request.
Verses 19 and 21 these verses tell more of those pursuing and they wink the eye. Especially against those who are living quietly. It's not like these people are out to cause trouble these malicious Witnesses are are out to get those who are living peaceably in the land.
verse 19 which will come back to you in a few minutes as well as we're special mention as it says those who hate me without cause our lord Jesus himself quotes this verse which is also found in Psalm 69 in John chapter 25 verse 25 Surah John 15 verse 25. We'll come back to that in just a few minutes.
Verses 22 through 26 David Goes to ask for Vindication and deliverance using some vivid imagery. The second set of imprecations. He asked God not to be silent as if God were complacent and too awake and Rouse yourself as if you were sleeping.
You see this word again Vindication. What does it mean to ask for vindication?
It's essentially asking for God to distinguish between the faithful and the Empire us those who show a lack of respect for God the faithful are those who walk in integrity and trust the Lord without wavering. They live by Grace David says vindicate me according to your righteousness, which in the Old Testament means God's faithfulness in keeping his promises. Promises to vindicate David.
And at the end verses 27 through 28 Again David looks forward to rejoicing because of God's intervention in faithfulness. Says let those who Delight in my righteousness. He's rejoice in with all the faithful here and was more into a group mentality of family mentality. And that's tough the high point of this song. The David will conclude by telling of God's righteousness and of his praise all the day long with the whole family.
So what Psalm 35 in a nutshell?
I'd like to close. But I'm here this morning looking at three different aspects of this song. I want to look at David's experience. David's opposition and David's response and how those will line up in many ways. With our own experience opposition and Lord willing our response. Soap David's experience as many of you may be here this morning have experience as well was one of extreme Injustice of pain of being pursued of staring death in the face of facing violence on a daily basis. Is a great example of a righteous suffer at the hands of malicious enemies. Yeah, we can expect that same treatment because of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus himself says you will be hated by all for my namesake and Luke 21 in Mark 13 and John 16. He doesn't mince any words in this world. You will have tribulation you will have tribulation.
But the focus of some 35 is that all of us as we suffer admits this tribulation should be found will be found righteous. that we should have a good conscience that are suffering would truly be without cause so those who contend against us would be put to shame as Peter rights in 1st Peter 3.
So I asked you this morning. What is your experience then how have you been pursued persecuted in your life?
Working in the construction industry for a while. Early 2000s and my coworkers knew I was a Christian. There seem to be certain co-workers who seem to have it out for me it each day difficult seems like their reason for coming to work. Was to make my life difficult. I try to do good just seem to be repaid with evil. Of course this pales in comparison to what David is speaking of here think my life was ever in danger, but maybe you have a co-worker or a family member or neighbor who has assumed this role in your life. Someone who seems to be after you no matter what you do. They want to bring you down. You try to pay them with good but are repaid with evil. You're in good company the song 35 speaks to this very experienced.
But there was one person who knew that experience more than anyone else not is our Lord Jesus Christ.
We mentioned that Jesus himself quotes from Psalm 35 in John 15 verse 25, but the word that is written in their low must be fulfilled. They hated me without cause so we want to pause here to recognize that as much as we are sometimes innocent suffers as much as David was an innocent suffer Jesus Christ himself was the quintessential innocent suffer.
One scholar says Jesus found a precedent for his enemies hatred toward him in the antagonism encountered by David therefore. He uses those words from Psalm 35.
Another scholar says this David is Led first to speak of himself in Psalm 35, but then is carried Beyond himself by the spirit of Prophecy to use language applicable to far more important transactions. referring to Christ himself
So the hatred of an eventual crucifixion of Christ fulfills Old Testament scriptures, he's the perfect example of someone who is zealous for God what is persecuted for? No good reason.
We can go beyond that in our association with this by rejoice and so far as we share Christ's sufferings. And we will rejoice when his glory is revealed as Peter says in 1st Peter 4.
But this term Without a Cause reminds Believers that hatred and persecution against Jesus and his followers is often not because of any wrong that they have done but simply because of irrational evil in the hearts of the persecutors. Just leads us to our second point of application David's opposition. It's also our opposition.
David love those who were after him. he loves his enemies and they still pursued him and wanted to destroy him without cause
can we see this play out in that picture in Matthew 23 with Jesus overlooking Jerusalem and lamenting the fact that they killed the prophets and stone those who are sent to save.
to speak of the savior we reminded hear of a few sobering facts, but the world around us 1st Corinthians 1 says the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing.
Ephesians to remind us that we were dead in our trespasses people around us dead in our trespasses. hated Jesus without cause due to the hardness of hearts.
We also need to remember. This is who we once were those of us who call ourselves Disciples of Jesus Christ that we have been brought from Death To Life by putting our faith in Christ. It's only by his grace that we can say what David says in verse 3 of this song say to my soul. I am your salvation. God is our salvation.
I want to encourage you here this morning. But if you do not know Jesus as your savior that you haven't put your trust in Christ that you would do. So today you come speak to me after the service or any of the other pastors on staff here.
Or any of our other congregants as well. I'm sure would love to pray with you.
So we have David's experience David's opposition and now David's response. How did he react and how should we react?
The song kind of provides us a bit of a program of how to deal with difficult circumstances.
I'm sure for all honest with ourselves in this moment many of us or facing extremely difficult circumstances and trials in our lives. But there's hope to be found in these words from David.
First we must look to the heart of this song and see that it starts with trust in the Lord and waiting patiently for his timing. David cries out how long oh Lord. Will you look on in this song? I think we are permitted to make the same cry provided that the cry is made in faith and not in criticism.
God knows exactly what he's doing. Even if it doesn't seem like it and we would do well to be reminded of what Isaiah tells us in chapter 55.
The Lord saying for my thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither. Are your ways my ways to Claire's the Lord.
So is patient trust and insurance we wait on the Lord who is more than capable of meeting our needs and will stand up for us in the face of any type of opposition in our lives.
Finally and I think fittingly as we finish this message on Psalm 35, we come to prayer. Mentioned at the beginning the theme of the book of Psalms that is it is a prayer book itself. And as we read through the Psalms one scholar puts it like this as we we read through we find ourselves in the Psalms. There's a prayer for the highest of highs is a prayer for the lowest of lows.
We can pour out we can tell our Lord what it is. We are experiencing what it is. We are going through. Just as David does and Psalm 35 the songs encourage us to Suffer Well. to ask for protection and vindication
of course and imprecatory Psalm has a very specific tone to it light of destruction of the wicked.
So we have to actually remind you to get to be clear on what is actually happening here. First of all, the righteous are here innocent of all false charges the righteous the enemies hate them without cause the righteous pray to God to deliver Speedy Justice on the wicked who cause trouble especially in light of the fact that the faithful are wanting to live quiet lives. Paul says in 1st Thessalonians,
So helpful summary, I think of Psalm 35 comes from one pasture. He says this when righteous people who to seek to live peacefully in the world are hated and falsely accused. They should pray to the Lord for protection and vindication. Or more theological terms. We can simply put it like this the Lord will destroy the wicked and vindicate the Saints. And the imperative for us our only response I think is to pray.
Like to provide maybe some parameters for our prayers in regards to this. Our prayers must be Spirit lead steeped in love for the lost as is the spirit of the New Testament praying for the Salvation of evildoers while there is still time.
And while we are doing this, let's strive to live blamelessly peaceably. Quiet in the land wholeheartedly pursuing Justice knowing that God himself will vindicate the faithful God is our Salvation justice will prevail in the end. He will neither leave us nor forsake us no matter what situation we find ourselves in no matter what situation you find yourself today.
Suppose we go about our day from here. Let's pray for the Lord's protection in Vindication. It will come. But let's tell each other. Let's remind each other of the righteousness in the faithfulness of God as David and verses 27 and 28. instructs us to remind each other of God's righteousness Maybe I'll see you afterwards are enjoying a cup of coffee standing around talking with some of your friends. maybe a challenge YouTube speak of this very thing to tell of the way that you have seen God's righteousness this week in your life.
As we grow together as a family.
I'm convinced a large part of that growth comes from reminding each other of God's faithfulness.
Together as David says we will praise him all day long. Let's pray together.
Father thank you through this song. We see this picture of faithfulness in Vindication in brutal honesty before you
I pray God that
for someone here today that this would be
the beginning of a new found freedom freedom and enjoy In close relationship with you through your son Jesus Christ.
Father help us to live peaceably into lovewell by the power of your spirit. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.