Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Mighty Warrior (Psalm 35)

"Vindicate me, O LORD my God, according to Your righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me" (Psalm 35:24).

The Scriptures depict God in a variety of ways—as a majestic king, a righteous judge, a humble shepherd, and a mighty warrior. It is to this last character that David appeals in Psalm 35. He calls God to take up His shield, to brandish His spear and javelin and overcome David’s enemies. Throughout the psalm, he refers to the angel of the Lord pursuing the wicked, scattering them like chaff in the wind. John’s vision in the book of Revelation comes to mind in light of such descriptions of God’s almighty power subduing His enemies. While the angel of the Lord is often believed to refer to Christ, Calvin prefers to focus on God’s use of the angelic host in delivering His people and executing justice on the ungodly.

David introduces God as armed and ready for battle, leading His angelic hosts, so that our faith in the heavenly power of God may increase. This psalm, therefore, is a prayer that God, by the exercise of His intrinsic power, would show that He alone is able to overcome the whole strength and forces of the ungodly. David prays that God might vindicate him and that his enemies be put to shame in the face of the mighty hosts of heaven. He takes confidence that the angel of the Lord would pursue them and scatter them to the winds. No matter what efforts the wicked may devise, their counsels and enterprises will be crushed by the Lord. “When David desires that they may be driven by the angel of the Lord, we learn from this that the reason why the ungodly are troubled, though no man pursues them, is, that God smites them with a spirit of amazement, and distracts them with such fears that they tremble and are troubled,” Calvin said. “We need not be surprised that this work should be assigned to the angels, by whose instrumentality God executes His judgments.”

Why is it that David pleads for such harsh judgments on his foes? We must remember that He pleads not simply his own cause with any rash zeal, but under the guidance of the Holy Spirit he seeks God’s vindication without a spirit of hatred or revenge. In this prayer, David encourages us to put our confidence in God, who has the power and the authority to overcome all our enemies, and in so doing magnifies Himself.

Read John 16:33. In what ways has Christ overcome the world? How do you see this victory in your life? Think of the various characteristics of a warrior and apply them to Christ. Let this depiction of Christ as a mighty warrior strengthen your faith and bring you comfort as you encounter tribulation and trial.