THE LYRE & THE SCROLL
“Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.” (V.1)
As I slowly plod through the Psalter there’s a dear heartbeat, a tender exchange between the writer and the LORD. There’s a rich loyalty toward God and a protection given by the Most High for His people. It is increasingly precious to my soul.
This exchange is often seen in the valley of despair where peril is the backdrop and terror is real, but the Psalmist nevertheless cry’s out to the LORD. It’s a microcosm of Israel’s exodus from Egypt repeated: Israel’s enemies are God’s enemies and there’s a covenant loyalty that God, unlike his people, never breaks.
Why do I read these pages and weep? Above all reasons, is that the LORD’s manifest mercies by delivering His own from peril demonstrates His commitment to love wayward hearts. David’s life is in danger, people want to kill him, he’s being maliciously slandered and thus he looks to the LORD for rescue like little chicks who look to their mother hen for protection and sustenance.
The pattern of this Psalm goes from petition (Vv.1-8) to praise: “And my soul shall rejoice in the Lord; It shall exult in His salvation.” (Vv.9-10). Then it goes to comparison between David and his enemies. His enemies repay him evil “Malicious witnesses rise up against me” for good when they were sick…my prayer kept returning to my bosom” (Vv.11-16).
Then again he returns to petition: “LORD, how long will you look on?”. David knows God sees these injustices done to him and his soul is burdened, thus he looks to the LORD and cries for deliverance with no further delays (V.17). This again is followed by praise and thanksgiving (V.18). It’s as if David knows god will eventually rescue him and he anticipates the praise he will offer when the rescue is realized. But David’s petition is not arbitrary, consider the wisdom of his cry:
“Do not let those who are wrongfully my enemies rejoice over me; Nor let those who hate me without cause wink maliciously.” (V.19)
David doesn’t ask God to deliver him because he’s guilty, but precisely because he’s innocent and God knows it well (Vv.19, 20-21, 22). Moreover, much in the same way the Psalmist cries out to God in (Ps.139:19-24) so too here, he asks God to: “Judge me, O Lord my God, according to Your righteousness, And do not let them rejoice over me.” (V.24). David shows us how to entrust ourselves to the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise God and thus we can rest.
This is another example of an imprecatory prayer where the writer asks God to do justice on his enemies for the sake of the Name and to have mercy as well because of the Name. Being God’s enemy or child will determine our end. When the righteous cry out for deliverance, it will assuredly come, but so will the destruction of the wicked. That’s why I say “rescue for the righteous equals destruction for the wicked—His enemies.”