Joshua 23:10 reads, “One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, just as he promised you.” We are helpless if we ever seek to stand against any enemy alone. We were not created to withstand the spear or javelin of an attacker. Physically, we are vulnerable. Spiritually, we are vulnerable, too.
“Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me! Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help!” Psalm 35:1-2
John 10:10 is a picture of the battle spiritually. There is a thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. We need to turn to the Lord, and we need the Lord to contend and fight for us. Psalm 35 is marked by an onslaught of those who devise evil. David asks the Lord to take shield and buckler and make his enemy’s way dark and slippery.
“Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord, exulting in his salvation.” Psalm 35:9
If the Lord contends for us and we receive his strength—because when we are weak then we are strong (2 Corinthians 12:10)—we can put to flight our enemies and rejoice in his salvation. Our bones will cry out how there is no one like our Lord. He delivers from the malicious. But, do not overlook the difficult reality faced by David. He is in a hard place.
“…my soul is bereft.” Psalm 35:12
Bereft is defined as being deprived. Lacking something. It can mean you’ve been robbed, stripped, cut off from, devoid of, destitute of, bankrupt, left wanting, or deficient. It is often used in relation to the outcome after loss. For example, I was bereft after my loss of my bride. Sad. Lonely. Stripped. Robbed. Left wanting. Under attack.
Bereft. It’s a helpful word to describe loss.
David goes on to describe how his soul is bereft. Sick. He wore sackcloth. Afflicted. Head bowed. Grieved. Lamenting. Mourning. Ridiculed by enemies. Mocked. Gnashed teeth. Seemingly abandoned.
“How long, O Lord, will you look on? Rescue me…” Psalm 35:17
I found great solace in the overwhelming presence of lament throughout The Psalms. David asks God to rescue him and includes a question that suggests impatience. How long are you going to look on and do nothing? He accuses God of watching on as he faces destruction from the attack of lions.
But lament is not doubt. It’s not disrespect. Lament is expectation. Lament is faith. Lament agrees with God—and with Maltbie D. Babcock—that “…though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.” Lament gives birth to gratitude and praise. Lament reveals faith.
“I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you.” Psalm 35:18
Gratitude and praise give birth to more faith. Circumstances do not define God. Faith cries out in verse twenty-two, “You have seen, O Lord; be not silent! O Lord, be not far from me!” David calls for vindication, and he believes it will come. He calls for the shame and disappointment of his enemies.
Psalm 35 is a battle of the bereft.
Few of us experience enemies like David endures. However, loss resembles this pain where a thief is killing, stealing, and destroying (John 10:10). Faith stands firm knowing that the Lord is great and delights in our eternal welfare. Abundant life is found in him.
There’s a battle in progress. In the ups and downs, the highs and the lows, and the wins and the losses of life, our tongues must tell of his righteousness. By faith. We must herald his praise without interruption all the day long.
We must have faith and must praise when we are bereft. He is worthy of our faith and our praise.
“Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.” Psalm 35:28