Psalm 35

Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take up shield and buckler; arise and come to my aid. Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”

May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame; may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay. May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the LORD driving them away; may their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the LORD pursuing them. Since they hid their net for me without cause and without cause dug a pit for me, may ruin overtake them by surprise- may the net they hid entangle them, may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.

Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation. My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, O LORD ? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.”

Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about. They repay me evil for good and leave my soul forlorn. Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting.  When my prayers returned to me unanswered, I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother.  I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother. But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; attackers gathered against me when I was unaware. They slandered me without ceasing. Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked; they gnashed their teeth at me.

O Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my life from their ravages, my precious life from these lions.  I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise you.  Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; let not those who hate me without reason
maliciously wink the eye. They do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land. They gape at me and say, “Aha! Aha! With our own eyes we have seen it.”

O LORD , you have seen this; be not silent. Do not be far from me, O Lord. Awake, and rise to my defense!  Contend for me, my God and Lord. Vindicate me in your righteousness, O LORD my God; do not let them gloat over me. Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!” or say, “We have swallowed him up.”

May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace. May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The LORD be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.” My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long.

She was having an awful day. It seemed like everything had gone wrong from the moment she woke up in that funk she sometimes found herself in. Even those things she was typically good at turned out bad. Each time it happened she berated herself. “What’s wrong with you today,” she asked herself, “Can’t you do anything right anymore?”

Her co-workers began to notice, overhearing some of her self-criticism. “Why are you so down on yourself?” one asked. “If any of us talked to you that way, you’d have a fit.”

I believe many things that are external and physical in the Old Testament become internal and spiritual in the New. David’s enemies were obviously external and physical. They attacked him with real weapons, slandered his name, bore false witness, and tried everything they could think of to defeat him.

Thankfully, most of us don’t experience such attacks today. The enemy we face is internal and spiritual. The weapons are words, hurled at us on the battlefield of self worth. And who is our primary antagonist? We are! Without thinking, we allow the enemy to invade our minds and use our own thoughts, words, and opinions as weapons to attack us. If we took the time to document the negative thoughts we express toward ourselves on those bad days, we’d be appalled! Talk about lies and slander. It’s a good thing no one can hear us, right? Wrong. Our sub-conscious hears every thought, and unable to distinguish fact from fiction, uses all of them to ratchet down our opinion of ourselves. It’s our enemy’s sworn mission to defeat us, and he’ll use every weapon at his disposal. One of his most effective ones is our mind.

Most people don’t pay much attention to what they say about themselves in the privacy of their own minds. And even if they do, they aren’t aware of the damage they’re causing. We would never talk to our children the way we talk to ourselves, because we know the adverse effect it would have on them. Yet we don’t afford ourselves the same courtesy.

Using thoughts the enemy places in our minds, we convince ourselves we can’t do something, just because we’ve never tried it. We tell our selves something won’t work, simply because we’re frustrated and unfocused. We deny talent, skill and potential, even to do those things we’ve done successfully in the past. All the time our sub-conscious is listening, and adjusting downward the self worth of one of the highest examples of God’s creative capability.

With a potential that’s beyond scientific quantification we let ourselves be talked into accepting minimum standards or less, mindlessly repeating the words of our sworn enemy while ignoring the promises of our beloved Creator. David asked the Lord to contend against his enemies and defeat them, and to vindicate him in the process. Next time you catch yourself putting yourself down, recognize where those thoughts really originated and ask God to do the same for you.

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