The biggest box office movies of our time are superhero movies. Half of the top ten highest grossing movies of this century are Marvel superhero movies. We love the idea of an armored hero protecting us from the forces of evil who would attack us. But, this is not a new phenomenon.
All the way back in Psalm 35, David paints a beautiful word picture that reads like a scene of a modern superhero movie. David is being assaulted by an enemy, so he cries out for help. Then, an armored hero comes and stands between him and his enemies. This hero first comes to David’s aid by using defensive weapons to halt the enemy’s assault. Then the hero draws out his offensive weapons and drives back the enemy. As the enemy turns and flees, the hero calls on his underlings to pursue. The scene fades out as the enemy is being chased down a dark, dangerous pathway, with soldiers hot on his heals.
Is this a scene from the latest Iron Man movie? Wonder Woman? Black Panther?
No, the hero that David describes is none other than God Himself, clothed in armor, and coming to the defense of the needy.
So, get out your popcorn, kick back and enjoy the show as you read Psalm 35:1-6.
David begins this psalm with an earnest plea for help. “Contend with those who contend against me” is literally “litigate against those who litigate against me.” The initial battle is not to take place with weapons of war, but weapons of law. David knows that he is being unjustly assaulted, and wants God to come to his aid. This begins in a court of law, but, perhaps the thought of God fighting for him leads to the next depiction of God clothed in armor.
In verse 2, David begins the vivid metaphor that could be the climax of a Hollywood film. God rises up for David’s help. By standing up, David pictures God as active and zealous in His preservation of the man in need. He has stepped down from His heavenly throne to intercede on behalf of His beloved. God then takes hold of his shield (the Hebrew word refers to a small defensive weapon), and his buckler (the Hebrew word refers to a larger shield, twice the size of the first, which was often used for both defense and offense). With these weapons, God is able to halt the assaults of the enemy. But, David pictures God with more than mere defensive weapons. Verse 3 has our Lord drawing his spear and javelin, the two premier weapons of war in those days. A valiant warrior could use a spear to hold off a host of attackers, and our Lord is the most valiant warrior of them all! Truly, He is our salvation!
Often, when we are being assaulted by our enemies, our initial desire is just for the assaults to stop. Once God has stopped the assaults, however, we then notice a deeper desire for justice and vindication. David pleas for God to “let them be put to shame and dishonor,” “let them be turned back and disappointed.” Basically, he wants his enemies to feel the hurt that they have brought upon him. He doesn’t seek a punishment greater than the crime, just an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. He wants justice, and that's just what the Armored God brings him.
God has defeated the enemy, and the enemy has begun to flee “like chaff before the wind.” God could pursue the enemy and achieve total victory, but David doesn’t want the Armored God to leave. David would rather have the Lord close by his side. Instead, he imagines God sending His angel to drive the enemy away.
This angel would have been an angel of war: perhaps one of the angels who fought against Lucifer's demons when they fell from heaven; or one of the angels who led Israel out of Egypt; or one of the angels who led the Israelites into the Promised Land and slew it's inhabitants in battle. Maybe the angel had a drawn sword like the angel who attacked Balaam, or a fiery sword like the angel who guards the entrance to Eden.
Whatever the case may be, this angel was a powerful warrior, and he pursues the enemy down a way that is “dark and slippery.” For a road to be dark is hazardous enough. Have you ever ran in the dark? But to add to the darkness the hazard of slipperiness is too much for someone to bear. Now they can’t see where they are going and the rains have made the road extra dangerous—they could fall into a ditch or break an ankle or get stuck. This would all lead to their doom, for the angel of the Lord is hot on their tail. The Armored God has brought salvation to David.
If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you can praise Him for being your salvation too. But, perhaps your mental picture of him could use a little adjusting. You often picture Him as meek and lowly; gentile and unassuming. You imagine him on the cross without any muscle definition, or you picture him wearing a flowing robe with a smile and open arms. This may be how Jesus looks to those who love Him, but to His enemies: He is clothed in a robe that is dipped in blood; His fists are clenched and ready for war; His eyes are like a flame of fire; He rides a powerful horse; He wields a mighty sword and a rod of iron. He is the Almighty, the true superhero, the Armored God. And He is fighting for you!
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