The Word for today:
Over the next couple days, Stand in the Rain is going to re-connect the Christmas story to the rest of the Bible (and the rest of the year). We'll see how Psalm 35 and Revelation 12, when connected to "the Christmas Story" in Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2, tell the Whole Story of Christmas…
I used to feel left out of certain Psalms. They seemed to be about situations that did not apply to me. So I read them as if I were behind a buffer zone, far removed from the battle.
Psalm 35 is an example:
Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame; may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay. (Psalms 35:1,4)
I used to skip right through a Psalm like that because it did not seem to relate to my life. No one is seeking my life or plotting my ruin, I thought.
But scripture and experience taught me to think again; the Bible and my own eyes made it clear to me that we are plotted against and pursued, whether we know it or not. Now I take Psalm 35 personally, because the battle has come to my backyard. It's even gotten to the point where I don't read Psalm 35 as much as I fervently pray it.
The Bible teaches us that our battles are not against flesh and blood, but against organized spiritual forces:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
Psalm 35:15 depicts these unseen attacks:
Attackers gathered against me when I was unaware. They slandered me without ceasing. (Psalms 35:15)
These forces deploy the strategies of their commander, Satan, who is identified in Revelation 12:10 as the accuser of our brothers:
They devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land. (Psalms 35:20)
Job chapter 1 and Zechariah chapter 3 show us actual "courtroom scenes" where Satan appears before the LORD to accuse the people of God. In the scene from Zechariah, the Angel of the LORD, the pre-incarnate (pre-Christmas) Christ, rises up in defense of those whom he has redeemed.
This is the same "Angel" of the LORD who rises up, in Psalm 35, to defend David against those who hunt him down:
Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.
Take up shield and buckler; arise and come to my aid.
Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me.
Say to my soul, "I am your salvation."
May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame; may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay.
May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the LORD driving them away;
may their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the LORD pursuing them. (Psalms 35:1-6)
Certainly Christmas is a lightshow: the wise men followed the star; the glory of the Lord shone round about the shepherds. But when seen in the context of the entire Bible, Christmas is when the Light of the World pierced the darkness, and the tide of battle turned:
God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.