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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.

22 This 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.

1. Plead my cause, O Jehovah! As the enemies of David not only avowedly sought to take away his life, but also troubled him by calumny and misrepresentation, he pleads for the redress of both these grievances. In the first place, by appealing to God for his aid in defense of his cause, he intimates, that he has to do with wicked and maligning men. In the second place, by urging him to take up arms, he shows that he was grievously oppressed. It was a very dishonorable thing, that this holy man, alike eminent for his beneficence and inoffensiveness towards all men, and who by his courtesy and meekness had merited, both in public and private, the esteem and favor of all, was not permitted to escape the reproach and calumny of wicked men; but it is important for us to know this, and it sets before us a very profitable example. If even David did not escape the malice of wicked men, it ought not to seem wonderful or strange to us, if they blame and bite at us. The injuries they inflict upon us may be grievous and painful, but there is incomparable consolation presented to us in this consideration, that God himself interposes for our protection and defense against false accusations. Though calumniators, then, should arise, and tear us, as it were, to pieces, by falsely charging us with crimes, we need not be disturbed, so long as God undertakes to plead our cause against them. There can be no doubt, that in the second clause of the verse David implores God to resist the armed violence of his enemies. The amount of the whole is, that being falsely accused and cruelly persecuted, and finding no help at the hands of men, the Prophet commits the preservation of his life and his reputation to God.

2. Take the shield. These words certainly cannot be applied, in the strict and proper sense, to God, who has no need of the spear or buckler: for by the breath of his mouth alone, or merely with his nod, he is able to overthrow all his enemies. But although such figures at first sight appear rude, yet the Holy Ghost employs them in accommodation to the weakness of our understanding, for the purpose of impressing more effectually upon our minds the conviction that God is present to aid us. When troubles and dangers arise, when terrors assail us on every side, when even death presents itself to our view, it is difficult to realize the secret and invisible power of God, which is able to deliver us from all anxiety and fear; for our understandings, which are gross and earthly, tend downward to the earth. That our faith, therefore, may ascend by degrees to the heavenly power of God, he is here introduced armed, after the manner of men, with sword and shield. In the same way, also, when he is in another place termed “a man of war,” it is doubtless in adaptation to the imperfection of our present state, because our minds, from their limited capacity, could in no other way comprehend the extent of that infinite power, which contains in itself every form of help, and has no need of aid from any other quarter. This, therefore, is a prayer that God, by the exercise of his secret and intrinsic power, would show that he alone is able to encounter the whole strength and forces of the ungodly. Some suppose that the Hebrew word צנה, tsinnah, here used, means a dart, or some other kind of weapon; but as we have already seen, in the fifth psalm, that it properly signifies a buckler, I see no reason why it should be differently interpreted in this place. Nor is there any thing at all inconsistent in connecting here, as is often done in other places, the buckler and the shield. 702702     The word rendered shield is in the Hebrew text מגך, magen, which was a short buckler intended merely for defense. The word rendered buckler is צנה, tsinnah, for an account of which see note, p. 64. The tsinnah was double the weight of the magen, and was carried by the infantry; the magen, being lighter and more manageable, was used by the cavalry. The tsinnah answered to the scutum, and the magen to the clypeus, among the Romans. — See Paxton’s Illustrations of Scripture, vol. 3, pp. 866, 867. If the expression here employed had been designed to signify a dart, or a similar weapon, it would have been more natural to connect it with the spear, of which mention is made in the following verse. David, then, first makes mention of defensive armor, praying that God would sustain and repel the assaults of the enemy. The Hebrew word ריק, rik, which signifies to unsheath, or make bare, I take simply to mean, to draw out, or bring forth. The Hebrew word סגור, segor, which I have translated to oppose, literally signifies to shut or to close. But as David’s meaning is, that God, by setting himself as a wall or rampart, would prevent his enemies from approaching him, it appears to me that I have faithfully translated it. At the same time, if any should prefer the translation to shut, or close the way, or to impede it by some obstacle, the meaning; is substantially the same. The opinion of those who contend that it is a noun, 703703     Those who are of opinion that סגור, segor, is a noun, translate it “the scymitar,” and read, “Draw out the spear, and the scymitar, to oppose my persecutors.” According to Drusius, Vitringa, Michaelis, Dr Kennicott, and others, the word means σαγαρις, or scymitar, a sort of battle-axe, which was used by the Persians, Scythians, and other nations in ancient times. is not at all probable.


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