Read Psalm 35
Believer, are you in a season of persecution or opposition? Have you been wrongfully accused despite your innocence? If not now, have you before? And if not yet, are you prepared for it to come?
Despite our tendency to believe that bad things won't happen to good people, the Scriptures tell a different story. Over and over again, the Bible prepares us for the persecution, suffering, and opposition of those who are blameless in God's sight. Joseph was rejected by his family and then wrongly accused and sentenced to prison. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace for worshiping God alone. Daniel was subjected to the lions den for faithfully praying to the Lord. John the Baptist was beheaded and Jesus died on the cross. If it came for them, will it not also come for us? And yet, God does not leave us alone or ill equipped for times such as these. Psalm 35 provides specific instruction for how believers are to respond in the day of opposition.
Right off the bat, Psalm 35 reminds us that vengeance belongs to God. Believes are to look to God and trust in His defense rather than seeing to avenge themselves. This idea is not in Psalm 35 alone. Exodus 14:14 says, "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." Romans 12 instructs us to live peacefully with all, never avenging ourselves but trusting that the Lord will rightfully repay what is due. Left to ourselves, the normal and natural response is to prove our innocence, defend ourselves, and seek vengeance where we have been wronged. God, on the other hand, offers wisdom and instruction that goes against our very nature: to love, pray for, and forgive our enemies and to leave justice in His hands alone.
Psalm 35 also shows us how to pray for our enemies. We are to ask God to fight on our behalf, plead that their evil schemes will fail, and interestingly, are even instructed to pray for the destruction and humiliation of our pursuers. Such a prayer does not flow from a vengeful heart, but rather is an appeal based on faith, pleading for the Lord to come to our defense and right what is wrong.
Further instructing believers in how to pray for their enemies in times of false accusation and maltreatment, Verses 13-15 say that even when others laugh at our misfortune, mock our faith and integrity, or rejoice in our suffering that our response is to be one of humility and grace. We are to seek their good, grieve with them in their sorrows, pray for them, and love them like we would a brother. Jesus Himself was well acquainted with sorrow, false accusation, hot pursuit, and wrongful death, and is the student any greater than the Master? Not only should we expect to receive similar treatment as Jesus, but we should model His response to it as well. Jesus was angry but did not sin. He prayed for those who persecuted Him. He offered forgiveness instead of revenge. He healed those who attacked His disciples. We are called to do the very same, and yet we cannot do it on our own. We need the Lord's grace and strength to respond like Jesus does.
David's prayer also reminds us that times like these are not always fleeting. God does not always respond right away and there are times when seasons of suffering, opposition, and persecution last longer than we desire. David's season exemplifies longevity and his response models perseverance. In times like these, endurance is required of the believer, yet it comes with a promise: that we can,
"rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." (Romans 5:3-5).
Above all, despite David's persistent pleas for God's deliverance, his endurance in persecution, and his steadfastness in suffering, David looks forward to the day when God will deliver him knowing that he will respond in joy, praise, and acclimation when He does.
Church family, the hard reality is that people may blame us, accuse us, drag us to court, or even seek our life despite our innocence. It is common throughout and evidenced within the Scriptures and if it happened to our King, we can expect similar treatment in our own lives. But take heart, believer. Psalm 35 is a soothing balm for times like these. Read it, remember it, and allow it's instruction to wash over you in hope and preparation for your very own lives.
-- Courtney Hofmann