a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

Psalm 35

Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies

Of David.


Contend, O L ord, with those who contend with me;

fight against those who fight against me!


Take hold of shield and buckler,

and rise up to help me!


Draw the spear and javelin

against my pursuers;

say to my soul,

“I am your salvation.”



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.


Let them be like chaff before the wind,

with the angel of the L ord driving them on.


Let their way be dark and slippery,

with the angel of the L ord pursuing them.



For without cause they hid their net for me;

without cause they dug a pit for my life.


Let ruin come on them unawares.

And let the net that they hid ensnare them;

let them fall in it—to their ruin.



Then my soul shall rejoice in the L ord,

exulting in his deliverance.


All my bones shall say,

“O L ord, who is like you?

You deliver the weak

from those too strong for them,

the weak and needy from those who despoil them.”



Malicious witnesses rise up;

they ask me about things I do not know.


They repay me evil for good;

my soul is forlorn.


But as for me, when they were sick,

I wore sackcloth;

I afflicted myself with fasting.

I prayed with head bowed on my bosom,


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.



But at my stumbling they gathered in glee,

they gathered together against me;

ruffians whom I did not know

tore at me without ceasing;


they impiously mocked more and more,

gnashing at me with their teeth.



How long, O L ord, will you look on?

Rescue me from their ravages,

my life from the lions!


Then I will thank you in the great congregation;

in the mighty throng I will praise you.



Do not let my treacherous enemies rejoice over me,

or those who hate me without cause wink the eye.


For they do not speak peace,

but they conceive deceitful words

against those who are quiet in the land.


They open wide their mouths against me;

they say, “Aha, Aha,

our eyes have seen it.”



You have seen, O L ord; do not be silent!

O Lord, do not be far from me!


Wake up! Bestir yourself for my defense,

for my cause, my God and my Lord!


Vindicate me, O L ord, my God,

according to your righteousness,

and do not let them rejoice over me.


Do not let them say to themselves,

“Aha, we have our heart’s desire.”

Do not let them say, “We have swallowed you up.”



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.



Let those who desire my vindication

shout for joy and be glad,

and say evermore,

“Great is the L ord,

who delights in the welfare of his servant.”


Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness

and of your praise all day long.

12. They render me evil for good. David again shows that the malice of his enemies was of a very aggravated character, because they not only oppressed him wrongfully, seeing he was innocent, and had given them no occasion of offense, but also because even those who had received much enjoyment and many favors from him, recompensed him in a very strange and ungrateful manner. Such disgraceful conduct wounds the feelings of good men very severely, and seems quite intolerable. But it is an inexpressibly great consolation when we can testify before God, that we have attempted by every means in our power to soothe the minds of our enemies, and to bow them to gentleness, although, notwithstanding, they are hurried on by insatiable cruelty in desiring our hurt; for God will not suffer this barbarous and brutal ingratitude to pass unpunished. Their cruelty is farther expressed when it is said that they endeavored to bereave (for so it is properly in the Hebrew 710710     “Ont tasch, de rendre orpheline car il y a ainsi proprement en Hebrieu.” — Fr. ) the soul of a meek and peaceable man; that is to say, to deprive it of comfort, and render it so desolate as to overwhelm it with despair and destroy it. David afterwards recounts certain acts of kindness which he had done them, and which, if they had had any sense of equity and humanity, ought to have been as so many sacred bonds of mutual love. He does not say that he aided them with money or with goods, or that he had by some other means exercised liberality towards them, for it may sometimes happen that when the hand is open the heart may be shut; but he mentions certain tokens of true and genuine love — that he lamented their misfortunes before God, and was troubled for them, as if he had mourned for the death of his mother; and, finally, that he felt for and took an interest in them as if they had been his own brothers. Since then he had thus laid them under high obligations to him, of what baser ingratitude could they be guilty than to vomit against him in his adversity the poison of their hatred? With respect to the meaning of the words, I take the term sickness, in this place, to signify metaphorically any kind of trouble or sorrow. David’s meaning is, that as often as any calamity had befallen them he was a partaker of their grief. A good evidence of this was the prayer which he says he poured out into his own bosom. The proper meaning of the expression is, that he did not ostentatiously utter his prayers aloud before men, like many who pretend much more affection than they really feel, but that by praying in secret, and without making the world privy to it, he showed that he was sincerely and from the heart distressed by reason of their affliction. As we say that a man rejoices in his own bosom, who is satisfied with the secret and inward feeling of his heart, without declaring it to others, so also one may be said to weep or pray in his own bosom, who pours not forth his tears and prayers before men to secure their favor, but, contented with having God alone for his witness, conceals his emotions in his own heart. I do not, however, deny that in this manner of speaking there is expressed the attitude of one who prays, as if the Psalmist had said, that he bowed down his body, and prayed with his head hanging down, and his arms folded, as men in heaviness are accustomed to do. 711711     “When the Orientals,” says Boothroyd, “pray seriously in grief, they hide their face in their bosom: and to this custom the Psalmist here alludes. Rabbi Levi, Dathe, and others, explain it in like manner.” But this especially we ought to regard as his meaning, that there was no dissimulation in his prayer. Some think that there is an imprecation in his words, and they explain them in this sense. Lord, if it is true that I have not desired all prosperity to them, let all mischief fall upon me: but this is a forced explanation. There is still another exposition, which has as little plausibility in it; and it is this: Because I profited nothing by praying for them, the fruit of my prayer returned to myself. The sense, which is more in unison with the purpose and also the words of the prophet, is, I prayed for them just as I pray for myself. But what I have already advanced concerning the secret affection of the Psalmist will, I hope, prove satisfactory to the judicious reader. With respect to sackcloth and fasting, he used them as helps to prayer. The faithful pray even after their meals, and do not observe fasting every day as necessary for prayer, nor consider it needful to put on sackcloth whenever they come into the presence of God. But we know that those who lived in ancient times resorted to these exercises when any urgent necessity pressed upon them. In the time of public calamity or danger they all put on sackcloth, and gave themselves to fasting, that by humbling themselves before God, and acknowledging their guilt, they might appease his wrath. In like manner, when any one in particular was afflicted, in order to excite himself to greater earnestness in prayer, he put on sackcloth and engaged in fasting, as being the tokens of grief. When David then, as he here tells us, put on sackcloth, it was the same as if he had taken upon himself the sins of his enemies, in order to implore from God mercy for them, while they were exerting all their power to accomplish his destruction. Although we may reckon the wearing of sackcloth and sitting in ashes among the number of the legal ceremonies, yet the exercise of fasting remains in force amongst us at this day as well as in the time of David. When God, therefore, calls us to repentance, by showing us signs of his displeasure, let us bear in mind that we ought not only to pray to him after the ordinary manner, but also to employ such means as are fitted to promote our humility. In conclusion, the Psalmist says that he behaved and acted towards them as if each of them had been his brother.

VIEWNAME is study