The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them (Psa.34:7)
Many Bible believing people will have drawn great comfort from the above-mentioned Old Testament verse. Yet in the following psalm, there are a couple of verses, which describe the angel of Yahweh in a quite different role: persecuting those who set themselves against Yahweh’s anointed
Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them. Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them. For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit… (Psa.35:5 – 7).
The angel as an agent of Yahweh, therefore, performed acts of both mercy and judgment.
So, whilst the faithful take much encouragement from the first quotation, the second quotation should induce godly fear in those who set out to oppose that which God says and does.
As these differing roles of the angel are described in consecutive psalms, it is interesting that in the book of Acts, there is an exhibition of the angel of the Lord performing these two functions in consecutive incidents. In Acts 12:7, the Scripture reads...
And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
The context is that Herod first murdered the apostle James, and then, for political reasons, imprisoned the apostle Peter. Peter was chained to two soldiers in prison, but the angel rescued him from certain death the next day. The following verses are really exciting, and the reader will find it rewarding to peruse them. Thus, the angel of the Lord delivered the faithful Peter, even as declared in Psalm 34:7.
The next Acts reference to the angel of the Lord is in verse 23 of that same chapter 12, in which Herod is rewarded severely for his persecution of James and Peter...
And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the spirit’.
Political circumstances had conspired against Herod, who was caused thereby to speak blasphemously, with the result that he was struck down by the angel, a clear example of what Psalm 35 verses 5 to 7 calles for.
So, what can we learn from these ‘working examples’ of the roles of the angel of Yahweh described in Psalms 34 and 35. Firstly, if we believe and fear Yahweh and His anointed son Jesus, we can have the utmost confidence that an angel is always with us. But if, dear reader, you are obstructing the work of the Truth and making life difficult for those trying to be faithful disciples of Jesus the anointed, please, please desist, and consider Herod!
‘Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness…’ (Romans 11:22).