(Psalm 35:1-3 ESV) 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! Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers! Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”
“Hurt people hurt people.”
I recently read this statement on Facebook and realized the truth that resonates from it. It’s true. Most offenders have been offended by someone in the past. When someone has treated us badly, the pain is real and can be difficult to cover. It seems to leak into other relationships causing the cycle of hurt to continue on and on.
It is clear from the tone of this passage of Scripture that the writer had been the victim of some kind of mistreatment. He was angry, possibly bitter, and certainly expressed a desire for God to take revenge on his abusers.
David didn’t know it at the time, but his prayer contained wisdom beyond what he could comprehend. Here’s what I mean. When we are hurt, or angry, we tend to focus on revenge rather than grace. Such was the case here. A casual reading of David’s words reveal nothing but retribution for the crimes committed against him.
When He asked God to intervene, his desire was still about retribution. But God, always offers grace before judgment. Don’t get me wrong, God will deal speedily and with righteousness when it is necessary. But, I also know that God is just as concerned about redeeming our abusers as He is relieving our pain.
In reality, when David asked God to, “Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me,” he was actually giving God the opportunity to deal graciously with his enemies. That may not have been David’s intent, but when he turned it over to God he had to take his hands off.
David takes it a step further by asking God to, “Say to my soul, I am your salvation.” We understand the soul to be the seat of our emotional being. It is where we feel emotional pain, hurt, frustration. It is where we struggle with the reality of personal disappointment. It is where the weight and the heaviness of betrayal live.
Some translators believe the wording here would be better translated, “Let me hear you say I will save your soul (emotions)!” One of the great challenges for anyone who has suffered hurt and betrayal is to be able to forgive the offender and move on in a positive way. That’s what David seems to be asking.
If you’ve been hurt, let me encourage you to turn the fight over to the Lord. Let Him contend with those who contend with you. Give up the fight. Put it in His hands and let Him decide whether or not grace or judgment is the appropriate response. Refuse to allow bitterness and unforgiveness to take root in your soul. You’re bigger than your hurt!
PRAYER: I trust you, Lord, to take the pain of my hurt and turn it for my good, and for the good of those who hurt me. I release them of the offense, and I release You to provide grace or judgment as You see fit. Thank You for lifting the weight of the burden so that my mouth will be filled with praise rather than retribution. Amen.