Weds 8 September - Psalm 35
1 Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me.
2 Take up shield and armour;
arise and come to my aid.
3 Brandish spear and javelin
against those who pursue me.
Say to me,
“I am your salvation.”
4 May those who seek my life
be disgraced and put to shame;
may those who plot my ruin
be turned back in dismay.
5 May they be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the Lord driving them away;
6 may their path be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
7 Since they hid their net for me without cause
and without cause dug a pit for me,
8 may ruin overtake them by surprise—
may the net they hid entangle them,
may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.
9 Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord
and delight in his salvation.
10 My whole being will exclaim,
“Who is like you, Lord?
You rescue the poor from those too strong for them,
the poor and needy from those who rob them.”
11 Ruthless witnesses come forward;
they question me on things I know nothing about.
12 They repay me evil for good
and leave me like one bereaved.
13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth
and humbled myself with fasting.
When my prayers returned to me unanswered,
14 I went about mourning
as though for my friend or brother.
I bowed my head in grief
as though weeping for my mother.
15 But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee;
assailants gathered against me without my knowledge.
They slandered me without ceasing.
16 Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked;b]">[b]
they gnashed their teeth at me.
17 How long, Lord, will you look on?
Rescue me from their ravages,
my precious life from these lions.
18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly;
among the throngs I will praise you.
19 Do not let those gloat over me
who are my enemies without cause;
do not let those who hate me without reason
maliciously wink the eye.
20 They do not speak peaceably,
but devise false accusations
against those who live quietly in the land.
21 They sneer at me and say, “Aha! Aha!
With our own eyes we have seen it.”
22 Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent.
Do not be far from me, Lord.
23 Awake, and rise to my defense!
Contend for me, my God and Lord.
24 Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God;
do not let them gloat over me.
25 Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!”
or say, “We have swallowed him up.”
26 May all who gloat over my distress
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who exalt themselves over me
be clothed with shame and disgrace.
27 May those who delight in my vindication
shout for joy and gladness;
may they always say, “The Lord be exalted,
who delights in the well-being of his servant.”
28 My tongue will proclaim your righteousness,
your praises all day long.
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Meditation on Psalm 35
As we come back to our Psalms, we are straight into the deep-end.
In reading Psalm 34 we see that the LORD has delivered the psalmist from many troubles.
e.g. “I sought the LORD and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”
“This poor man called and the LORD heard him; He saved him from all his troubles.”
“The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him and He delivers them.”
“The righteous cry out and the LORD hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.”
“The righteous person may have many troubles but the LORD delivers him from them all.”
What a marvellous testimony.
But when we come to Psalm 35 there doesn’t seem to be that rejoicing in deliverance, although the psalmist believes it will happen. It is a prayer yet to be answered.
At the end of each section, the psalmist declares his confidence that the LORD will answer his cries.
e.g. Verses 9-10; 18; 27
And then he comes to the climax of verse 28: “my tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long.”
This is one of the imprecatory Psalms – i.e. , as one commentator puts it, ‘these are prayers that keep God’s justice, sovereignty and protection in mind. God’s people had suffered much at the hands of those who opposed them. These groups were not only enemies of Israel but enemies of God; they were degenerate and ruthless conquerors who had repeatedly tried and failed to destroy the Lord’s chosen people.’
Today, there are those who would destroy the people of God and the work of God. There are those who would rather change the Scriptures than change their beliefs and behaviour. We pray, ‘your kingdom come…’
Whilst difficult to pinpoint a particular time in David’s life, we get a clue in 1 Samuel 24:14-15. David is being chased by Saul and he confronts him with a challenge.
Verses 1-10 David pleads with God
He even asks God to protect Himself with His armour. Read Isaiah 59:17-20 to see that God protects Himself as He wages war on His enemies.
And, in the midst this battle scene we long to hear the voice of the LORD, “I am your salvation.”
Spurgeon says, “Brethren, there is nothing that can make you strong to labour for God, bold to fight against your enemies and mighty to resist your temptations, like a full assurance that God is your God and your sure salvation.”
As he waits for a divine intervention, David reminds himself, and us, that the LORD ‘rescues the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.’
Verses 11-18 David feels betrayed
He refers his betrayers as ‘ruthless witnesses’ who have repaid my friendship with malicious slander.
He was the subject of hurtful comments and destructive deeds.
He cries out to the LORD, “How long will you look on?”
But even then, David can praise the LORD as he prays for rescue - verse 18.
Verses 19-27 David longs for vindication
As you read these verses, see how David describes the behaviour of those who “gloat over me.”
And as he, spells out their behaviour, he constantly pleads with the LORD – verses 22; 23; 24; 25; 26
At the same time, he rejoices in, and with, the LORD’s people who will stand alongside him.
Verse 28 David declares his trust in the LORD
So, too, can we, whatever challenges we may be facing.
“I will proclaim your righteousness.”
“I will proclaim your praises all day long.”
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