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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.

15. But they rejoiced at my halting. I see no reason why interpreters should trouble themselves as they do about the word halting. Some conjecture that David had his leg put out of joint, and others suppose that he halted from some disease. But when we consider carefully the whole passage, nothing is more evident than that he refers by this expression to the calamities which befell him; as if he had said, As soon as they saw me begin to stagger and ready to fall, they did as it were gather together against me, and endeavored entirely to overthrow me. There is, therefore, in this expression almost the same metaphor as we have already seen in the word sickness. Now, as men often relent at seeing the misfortunes of their enemies, so that they cease to hate or persecute those who are already miserably wretched, it was an evidence of the very cruel and fierce spirit by which David’s former friends were actuated against him, when, upon seeing him cast down and afflicted, they were rather by this incited furiously and insolently to assail him. At the commencement he speaks only of a few; but immediately after, in order to show still farther the indignity which had been done to him, he adds to them the base and ignoble of the common people; not that he blames all alike, but that he may the better show with what bitter hostility he was assailed on all sides. It is probable that those who were then in power were as it were firebrands, who endeavored to kindle every where the flame of hatred against David, that the people every where might rise up to destroy him, and strive with each other in this enterprise. And he repeats twice that they gathered themselves together, in order to show how resolute and determined they were in their opposition to him; unless, perhaps, some would prefer to explain the words thus: They gathered themselves together, not only those who had some pretext for doing so, but even the lowest of the people. The Hebrew word נכים, nekim, literally signifies the whipped, or beaten, 712712     The word is derived from נכה, nakah, to strike or to smite. The LXX. render it μαστιγες, scourges; and Jerome reads percutientes, smiters, in which he is followed by Ainsworth, who understands the word as meaning smiters with the tongue, or calumniators, and who thinks that the LXX., in translating it scourges, alluded to the scourge of the tongue, as in Job 5:21; and if smiters is the proper rendering, we may certainly conclude, that as this smiting is represented as done upon the person who was its object in his absence, it was a smiting by the tongue. At the same time, this critic observes, that the word may be read the smitten, that is, abjects, vile persons, as in Job 30:8 Dr Kennicott translates it by verbcrones, whipt slaves, vile scoundrels. Another meaning of the word, according to Buxtorff, is, the wry-legged, the lame. In this sense it is used in 2 Samuel 4:4, and 9:3; and hence the epithet of Necho was given to one of the Pharaohs, who halted in his gait. Thus it easily came to be employed as a term of contempt. Calvin and the translators of our English Bible agree in the meaning which they attach to this word. but it is here to be understood as denoting base and disreputable persons. Some interpreters, indeed, derive it from the word כאה, kaäh, which signifies to make sad, and expound it actively, Those who make me sad: but the previous interpretation agrees better with the design of the passage, namely, that David was shamefully treated by the lowest dregs of the people. The words, I knew not, may be referred to the cause as well as to the persons. I, however, explain it as referring to the persons in this sense: So far from having any cause to complain that I have offended them, or done them any harm, I did not even know them. At the same time, these words may be understood as implying a complaint on the part of David, that the people were enraged against him without any cause, since he is conscious of no crime, and can conceive of no ground for such fierce hatred towards him. As to the last clause of the verse, also, although interpreters entertain different opinions, it appears to me that I have given the true and natural meaning. Literally it is, they did cut, and ceased not; but there can be no doubt that the language is metaphorical, and that the word cut 713713     The verb קרע, kara, for cut, “is significant of tearing or rending, and by an easy metaphor, is applicable to wounds inflicted by evil speaking and slander.” — Walford. signifies that they opened their mouth; as if David had said, They have insolently poured forth with open mouth their scoffing and reproachful words against me. The additional clause in the sentence, and ceased not, is a repetition common in the Hebrew language, and is employed to express the vehemence with which David’s enemies proceeded against him. It implies that there was no end or measure to their evil-speaking, and that they continued to pour forth with distended throats whatever first occurred to them.

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