October 22, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 326: Contender


"Contend, LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me." (Psalm 35:1 NIV)

What I know about boxing and politics pretty much comes down to knowing how to spell both words. But both of these "arenas" did come to mind when I was thinking about Psalm 35 and its description of God as our contender.

I thought of a boxer in the ring and a politician in the race...both seeking a victory that is not certain.

In calling on God to "contend with those who contend against me," though, David is calling on the One whose victory in any arena is sure.

If you're feeling as if someone is "contending" with you just now, I pray these other translations and paraphrases of Psalm 35:1 will renew your hope in sure victory:

* "Oppose my opponents, Lord; fight those who fight me" (CSB).

* "Lord, battle with those who battle with me. Fight against those who fight against me" (NCV).

* "Lord, stand up against those who stand up against me. Fight against those who fight against me" (NIRV).

* "Harass these hecklers, God, punch these bullies in the nose" (MSG). (I couldn't resist including this one.)

After David makes his outward-facing request of God, he turns his plea inward: "Say to my soul, 'I am your salvation' " (Psalm 35:3b).

David understands he needs more than a one-time victory over a human oppressor; he needs a permanent victory over the oppressor of his soul. He needs the part of himself that will live forever to hear the song of its Savior. This inward turn is so important to us because those who are contending against us are not usually inflicting harm 
primarily on our physical bodies but on our spirits, our minds, our hearts. It is our souls that need saving. And our souls need to clearly hear who is doing the saving: "I am your salvation." 

"I." God. Not a change of circumstance, not the downfall of our oppressors, not even the end of the battle. God Himself.

When we are in a fight, our Contender enters the ring with us. He does not enter it as a competitor, though, but as the champion. And as soon as He shows up, our victory is sure—not because we have done anything to save ourselves, but because God has done everything to save our souls.

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I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year-old that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!