Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. (Psalm 35:1).
This psalm is in a category called an imprecatory psalm, which is the theological way of saying, “Get ‘em, God!”
Does it sound unusual to your ears to pray a prayer like that? After all, aren’t we as Christians commanded to forgive those who offend us? How do we square that teaching of Jesus with these brutally honest prayers that David offers up?
Always remember that imprecatory psalms are spoken exclusively to God, not to our enemies. So when we pray these prayers, we are really turning the matter over to God. God does the contending and the vindicating—He knows best how to dispense the appropriate judgment.
David also shares with us several introspective prayers throughout the Book of Psalms, where he asks the Holy Spirit to search him. This heart-searching is interwoven in this imprecatory prayer of Psalm 35, as it should be with our prayers too.
Notice that David can only say these things with integrity because he had already allowed the Spirit to search his heart, and then he had asked forgiveness and he had repented from any sin (see Psalm 139:23-24; Matthew 5:22-24; 6:12, 14-15). David could point out with a clear conscience what his enemies were doing because David was innocent of these actions himself. Things like…
- their attack was without cause (v. 7)
- their accusations were purposefully designed to entrap him (v. 11)
- they were repaying David’s good work with evil deeds (v. 12)
- David had attempted to treat them well (vv. 13-14)
- they gleefully piled on more slander when David stumbled (v. 15)
- the enemy’s mocking was malicious (v. 16)
- they hated me without reason (v. 19)
- they invented false accusations against David (v. 20)
After his imprecatory prayer, David resolves to turn his eyes from the bad guys to God. He declares that worship of God will be his comfort (v. 28). What a great example for us still today!
When you are falsely, unfairly attacked, take these three actions:
- Introspection. Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart, and then quickly take action where necessary: Ask forgiveness, and repent from sinful thoughts, words, and actions.
- Pray. Remember to share your hurts with God alone. There is no need to unleash your anger on those who have attacked you.
- Worship. As long as my focus is on my trespassers, my focus is off my God. I cannot be consumed by thoughts of “them” because then I rob myself of thoughts of Him!
Please keep these God-honoring action steps in mind the next time you are unfairly attacked.