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35. Psalm 35

Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.

2Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.

3Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.

4Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.

5Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the Lord chase them.

6Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the Lord persecute them.

7For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.

8Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.

9And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation.

10All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?

11False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.

12They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.

13But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.

14I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.

15But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not:

16With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.

17Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.

18I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.

19Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.

20For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.

21Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.

22This thou hast seen, O Lord: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me.

23Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.

24Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.

25Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up.

26Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me.

27Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.

28And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.

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19. Let not those who are my enemies wrongfully rejoice over me. Because David’s enemies already exulted in the hope of seeing his overthrow and destruction, he prays that God would not suffer them to realize a desire so wicked. In order to render God favorable to his cause, he again protests that they hated him without any fault or occasion on his part, and that it was their own malice which urged them to such cruelty against him; for in order to secure the help of God, it is necessary to come before him with the testimony of a good conscience.

The Hebrew word שקר, sheker, which we have rendered wrongfully, is by some translated deceitfully, as if David meant that his enemies lay in wait for him. But this is to reason with too much subtilty. Besides, the repetition which immediately follows shows that he complains of their wilful hatred, inasmuch as of their own accord, and from deliberate design, they persecuted a man who had given them no cause of offense, but was their friend and benefactor. The Hebrew word קרף, karats, here signifies to wink with the eyes askance in mockery, as in Psalm 22:8, it denotes, to wag the head, and to shoot out the lip.

In the following verse, that he may cherish still greater confidence in God, David again declares, that he has to do with enemies of an irreconcilable character, and who are fully bent upon cruelty. Of this we ought to be firmly persuaded, that the more grievously we are oppressed, so much the more certainly ought we to expect deliverance. He therefore says, that they speak of nothing but of tumults and slaughter. The meaning of the latter clause is somewhat obscure, arising from the ambiguous signification of the word רגע, rige. As the word from which it is derived sometimes signifies to cut, and sometimes to rest, or to be quiet and peaceable, there are some who translate it the meek and peaceable of the earth: others translate it, with the tranquil and easy of the earth; meaning by this, those who live in the midst of riches and abundance, in the enjoyment of undisturbed repose. Both these seem to me to be forced interpretations. Others, too, though not more correctly, expound the word in caves or secret places, in order that, as they say, the wicked and deceitful counsels of such persons may not come to light. But it may be very appropriately rendered, the clefts of the earth, and by this metaphor are meant the miserable and afflicted, who are, as it were, broken and maimed. David, therefore, declares that as soon as his enemies see any opening, that is to say, some calamity befall him, they instantly put forth all their efforts to accomplish his destruction. Those who, in the time of his prosperity and power, never dared even to utter a word against him, began now, when they saw that his influence was feeble, to plot his ruin, just as we know that the wicked are for the most part persons of a servile and cowardly disposition, and assume not the tone of insolence save when an advantageous opportunity presents itself, as when the good and simple are in adversity. To the same purpose he represents them in the next verse, as crying out with open mouth, Aha! aha! and clapping their hands for joy that they saw David overcome, and, as it were, laid prostrate in the dust, a spectacle in which they took great delight.

22. O Jehovah! thou hast also seen it. There is in these words an implied contrast between the view which God is here represented as taking, and the sight at which, as we are told in the preceding verse, the ungodly rejoiced. The import of David’s language is, You have rejoiced exceedingly at the sight of my miseries; but God also sees and takes notice of the cruelty and malice of those who feel a pleasure and gratification in seeing others afflicted and in trouble. David, however, in thus speaking, stays not to reason with his enemies, but rather addresses himself directly to God, and sets his providence as a rampart of defense in opposition to all the assaults of those who sought to shake his confidence, and who caused him much trouble. And certainly, if we would fortify ourselves against the scoffing and derision of our enemies, the best means which we can employ for this end is to overlook them, and to elevate our thoughts to God, and in the confidence of his fatherly care over us, to entreat him to show, in very deed, that our troubles are not unknown to him; yea, that the more he sees the wicked eagerly watching every opportunity to accomplish our ruin, he would the more speedily come to our aid. This David expresses by these various forms of expression — Keep not silence, be not far from me, stir up thyself, awake for my judgment He might justly make use of such expressions, seeing he was already fully persuaded that God regards the poor and afflicted, and marks all the wrongs which are done to them. If, therefore, we would frame our requests aright, a clear conviction and persuasion of the providence of God must first shine into our hearts; nor is it necessary only that this should precede, in point of order, all our desires; it must also restrain and govern them.

24. Judge me, O Jehovah my God! David here confirms the prayer of the preceding verse that God would be his defender, and would maintain his righteous cause. Having been for a time subjected to suffering as one who had been forsaken and forgotten, he sets before himself the righteousness of God, which forbids that he should altogether abandon the upright and the just. It is, therefore, not simply a prayer, but a solemn appeal to God, that as he is righteous, he would manifest his righteousness in defending his servant in a good cause. And certainly, when we seem to be forsaken and deprived of all help, there is no remedy which we can employ, more effectual to overcome temptation than this consideration, that the righteousness of God, on which our deliverance depends, can never fail. Accordingly, the Apostle Paul, in exhorting the faithful to patience, says in 2 Thessalonians 1:6,

“It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation
to them that trouble you.”

Now David again appeals to God in this place, and entreats him to manifest his righteousness in restraining the insolence of his enemies: for the more proudly they assail us, God is so much the more ready to help us. Besides, by again introducing them as speaking, he portrays in a graphic style the cruelty of their desires; and by this he means to show, that if things should happen according to their wishes, they would set no limit to their frowardness. But as the more they vaunt themselves, the more they provoke the wrath of God against them, David with good reason uses this as an argument to encourage his hope, and employs it for his support and confirmation in prayer.

26. Let those who rejoice at thy hurt be ashamed and confounded together. This imprecation has already been expounded; and it is only necessary to remark, that there is peculiar force in the expression, together, or at once. It shows that it was not only one or two, but a great multitude, who waged war against him, and that he yielded not to the influence of fear, but believed that as soon as God should lift up his hand, he could at one stroke easily overthrow them all. When it is said that they seek after and rejoice in David’s hurt, this shows that they were filled with cruel hatred against him. And when it is said, that they magnify themselves against him, this is a token of pride. David, therefore, in order to render them more hateful in the sight of God, represents them as filled with pride and cruelty. And as this form of prayer was dictated by the Holy Spirit to David, there can be no doubt that the end of all the proud shall be such as is here predicted, that they shall turn back overwhelmed with shame and disgrace.

27. Let those who favor my righteous cause rejoice and be glad. These two expressions, which are rendered in the optative mood, might have been translated with equal propriety in the future tense; but as this is a matter of little consequence, I leave it undecided. David here extols the deliverance which he asks of God, and exults in the results which should flow from it; namely, that it would be an occasion of general rejoicing and good hope to all the godly, while at the same time it would stir them up to celebrate the praises of God. He attributes to all the faithful the credit of desiring, that as an innocent man his righteous cause should be maintained. David, it is true, was the object of almost universal hatred among the simple and unsuspecting, who were imposed upon by false and unjust reports made concerning him; but it is certain that there were among the people some who formed a just and impartial estimate of things, and who were sorely grieved that a holy man, and one too whose benevolence was well known, should have been so unjustly and so wrongfully oppressed. And surely the common feelings of humanity require, that when we see men unjustly oppressed and afflicted, if we are not able to help them, we should at least pity them. When David uses the language, Jehovah be magnified, his design seems to be tacitly to set this in opposition to the pride of the wicked, of which he made mention above. As they presume in the pride, of their hearts, and by their insolent and overbearing conduct, to obscure, as far as in them lies, the divine glory, so may the faithful, on the other hand, with good reason present the prayer that God would shine forth in the majesty of his character, and demonstrate in very deed that he exercises a special care over all his servants, and takes a peculiar pleasure in their peace. Finally, the Psalmist again declares, in the conclusion of the psalm, his resolution to celebrate in appropriate praises the righteousness of God, by which he had been preserved and delivered.




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