Contend, LORD, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me.
Take up shield and armor;
arise and come to my aid.
Brandish spear and javelin
against those who pursue me.
Say to me,
“I am your salvation.”
Psalm 35:1-3 NIV
The Psalms were the songs and prayers of Israel. And they encompass a wide variety of emotions. I enjoy the psalms of praise and thanksgiving and find them very uplifting. But I can struggle with those psalms that ask God to fight against our enemies. They seem so vengeful and unloving. Yet many of the inspired psalms, including this one, do just that.
As believers in the Lord Jesus, who are told to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44), how should we respond to the psalms that express this desire for vengeance? Do we ignore them? Or is it OK to echo them as we pray?
Since all Scripture, including these psalms, is inspired and useful for my development as a follower of Christ (2 Tim. 3:16-17), I have to believe that these psalms have value for me. But it is important that I understand what they are saying.
This psalm does not give me permission to be the Lord’s spear, taking revenge on my enemies. We need to remember Romans 12:17-21. Do not repay evil with evil. As much as possible, live at peace with everyone. And leave vengeance to the Lord.
Express Your Emotions to God
And, in the end, that is also what the psalmist does. He tells us it is OK to express to God how we feel. But he then seeks assurance that God would be his salvation, protecting and defending him from those seeking to cause him harm. And we can follow his example. Feel free to express the full range of your emotions and thoughts to God. But then live faithful and loving lives, trusting God to deal appropriately with those who fight against us.