Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me! Psalm 35:1 (ESV)
Our nation is in rapid moral and spiritual decline. There’s not many left arguing against this thought. The shift in our nation’s spiritual climate in just the past 25 years has been jarring for most believers. Thankfully, American Christians are not currently suffering any real persecution, contrary to some arguments, however, the day looks much closer than it did when I was a younger man. In other parts of the world, though, persecution is a daily reality.
How should we respond? There are various ways and no shortage of opinions. In reading, Psalm 35, David provides a model for us. Facing imminent (physical) harm, David cried out to our heavenly Father for help.
He shows us in his prayer we can’t win this battle on our own. Instead, we need God to contend on our behalf.
First, we simply ask God to fight for us. How often we overlook this and skip straight to our own methods, our own plots, our own schemes, leaning on our own understanding. We are small, however. God is infinite.
Next, we pray the schemes of the wicked would fail, that they would suffer shame, and, ultimately, destruction. Of course, we desire everyone to repent and follow Christ. But the reality is, our protection means harm for our pursuers. In this, we are not to be vindictive, but instead to pray for our enemies as Jesus instructed. Praying for the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts of stone and make them hearts of flesh, but ultimately, trusting that God is the ultimate judge, not us. Hear more about this from (the much smarter and more eloquent) John Piper, below.
Third, believe. We trust God will deliver His children. Scripture is rife with these promises from Genesis to Revelation. Do we trust God and his word? He. Will. Deliver. He shows us this in the cross. We can trust His faithfulness because the promise He made to Adam and Eve and all throughout the Old Testament is fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He lived the life we could not live. He took the wrath for sin that was ours to take. He rose from the dead, defeating our ultimate enemy in death. If we can’t trust this, we have no hope for any other battle in life.
Proclaiming this faithfulness is the apex of Psalm 35 as well as the apex of our lives and all battles. We should proclaim this faithfulness to ourselves and to the nations.
In the meantime, we long for the defeat of evil. We long for God to rescue us from those who would pursue us and wish us harm (seemingly more and more of our culture actually does seek our harm). Unfortunately, we live in the very present world and waiting is hard. Joining David, we cry out with the familiar refrain of ‘how long?’
How long until rescue? How long until things are set right?
It’s not an easy wait, but trusting in God’s faithfulness and Jesus’ defeat of Satan, sin, and death is necessary. Take heart. Our perfect father has won the victory for his rebellious kids.