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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Psalm 35 - Prayer for deliverance

In this psalm, the Lord is asked by David to fight on his behalf against powerful and malicious opponents. The psalmist desires a comprehensive victory and he knows that only the Lord can provide it. A crucial aspect of David’s feelings was the reality that his troubles were undeserved (v. 7), indeed he had been very good previously to those who were now his enemies (vv. 12-14).

The main difficulty that the David had was the silence of the Lord throughout this prolonged trial. His complaint is twofold: first, God did not seem to be working in providence (vv. 17, 22, 23); second, he had not given any inner assurance to David that the onslaught against him would fail (v. 3). Yet although he was in such turmoil, David resolved to continue praying.

In his prayer, the psalmist uses several arguments with God: (1) he will yet receive praise from David for delivering him (vv. 9-10); (2) the congregation as a whole will praise the Lord when he delivers his servant (v. 27); and (3) the faithful loving-kindness of the Lord will once again be displayed when he rescues the psalmist (vv. 10, 24). We too can use similar arguments when praying earnestly to God.

Sometimes it is appropriate for God’s people to ask him to act like a warrior (v. 2). When he does, he will speedily and easily defeat the opponents. There are many reasons today for asking the Lord to act in such a manner. We may not have personal dilemmas at present, but the western church as a whole is under attack from various enemies and its communal weakness should cause us to pray desperately as the psalmist did here. Praying in desperation is not a sign of lack of faith; rather it reveals that our petitions are strong desires. Given the crisis, lack of desperation is evidence of spiritual blindness and an indifferent heart.

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