1 Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me!
2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
and rise up to help me!
3 Draw the spear and javelin
against my pursuers;
say to my soul,
“I am your salvation.”
4 Let them be put to shame and dishonor
who seek after my life.
Let them be turned back and confounded
who devise evil against me.
5 Let them be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the Lord driving them on.
6 Let their way be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
7 For without cause they hid their net for me;
without cause they dug a pit word for my life.
8 Let ruin come on them unawares.
And let the net that they hid ensnare them;
let them fall in it—to their ruin.
9 Then my soul shall rejoice in the Lord,
exulting in his deliverance.
10 All my bones shall say,
“O Lord, who is like you?
You deliver the weak
from those too strong for them,
the weak and needy from those who despoil them.”
11 Malicious witnesses rise up;
they ask me about things I do not know.
12 They repay me evil for good;
my soul is forlorn.
13 But as for me, when they were sick,
I wore sackcloth;
I afflicted myself with fasting.
I prayed with head bowed on my bosom,
14 as though I grieved for a friend or a brother;
I went about as one who laments for a mother,
bowed down and in mourning.
15 But at my stumbling they gathered in glee,
they gathered together against me;
ruffians whom I did not know
tore at me without ceasing;
16 they impiously mocked more and more,
gnashing at me with their teeth.
17 How long, O Lord, will you look on?
Rescue me from their ravages,
my life from the lions!
18 Then I will thank you in the great congregation;
in the mighty throng I will praise you.
19 Do not let my treacherous enemies rejoice over me,
or those who hate me without cause wink the eye.
20 For they do not speak peace,
but they conceive deceitful words
against those who are quiet in the land.
21 They open wide their mouths against me;
they say, ‘Aha, Aha,
our eyes have seen it.’
22 You have seen, O Lord; do not be silent!
O Lord, do not be far from me!
23 Wake up! Bestir yourself for my defense,
for my cause, my God and my Lord!
24 Vindicate me, O Lord, my God,
according to your righteousness,
and do not let them rejoice over me.
25 Do not let them say to themselves,
“Aha, we have our heart’s desire.”
Do not let them say, “We have swallowed you up.”
26 Let all those who rejoice at my calamity
be put to shame and confusion;
let those who exalt themselves against me
be clothed with shame and dishonor.
27 Let those who desire my vindication
shout for joy and be glad,
and say evermore,
“Great is the Lord,
who delights in the welfare of his servant.”
28 Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
and of your praise all day long.
COMMENT: This long and passionate psalm is one of many “royal prayers for deliverance” in which a leader (presumably David) calls for divine retribution against his enemies. From our present spiritual perspective we can see that the author is caught up in the emotions of the moment, the drama of the conflict. He feels aggrieved and calls upon the Lord to act on his behalf and overcome his enemies. We can easily recognize in ourselves some of the very human emotions he describes—indignation, righteous anger at what seem to be undeserved attacks, a concern about looking weak in the eyes of others. From a spiritual perspective we recognize that the entire drama is unfolding within the Allness that is God. If we make the right choices, resistance of any kind can serve the important spiritual purpose of forcing us to get clear and focused on what we know to be true and the choices we make from that knowing. By affirming our faith in the Lord of our being—the Christ Presence available within us as guidance and support—we, in effect, choose to express the very sense of empowerment we are seeking.