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PSALM 35#A lament of a person betrayed by friends. The psalmist prays that the evildoers be publicly exposed as unjust (Ps 35:1–8), and gives thanks in anticipation of vindication (Ps 35:9–10). Old friends are the enemies (Ps 35:11–16). May their punishment come quickly (Ps 35:17–21)! The last part (Ps 35:22–26) echoes the opening in praying for the destruction of the psalmist’s persecutors. The Psalm may appear vindictive, but one must keep in mind that the psalmist is praying for public redress now of a public injustice. There is at this time no belief in an afterlife in which justice will be redressed.
Prayer for Help Against Unjust Enemies
1Of David.
#The mixture of judicial, martial, and hunting images shows that the language is figurative. The actual injustice is false accusation of serious crimes (Ps 35:11, 15, 20–21). The psalmist seeks lost honor through a trial before God.Oppose, O Lord, those who oppose me;
war upon those who make war upon me.
2Take up the shield and buckler;
rise up in my defense.
3Brandish lance and battle-ax
against my pursuers.
Say to my soul,
“I am your salvation.”
4Let those who seek my life
be put to shame and disgrace.
Let those who plot evil against me#a. [35:4] Ps 40:15; 71:13.
be turned back and confounded.
5Make them like chaff before the wind,#b. [35:5] Ps 1:4; 83:14; Jb 21:18.
with the angel of the Lord driving them on.
6Make their way slippery and dark,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
7Without cause they set their snare for me;
without cause they dug a pit for me.
8Let ruin overtake them unawares;
let the snare they have set catch them;
let them fall into the pit they have dug.#c. [35:8] Ps 7:16; 9:16; 57:7; Prv 26:27; Eccl 10:8; Sir 27:26.
9Then I will rejoice in the Lord,
exult in God’s salvation.
10My very bones shall say,
“O Lord, who is like you,#d. [35:10] Ps 86:8; 89:7, 9; Ex 15:11.
Who rescue the afflicted from the powerful,
the afflicted and needy from the despoiler?”
11Malicious witnesses rise up,
accuse me of things I do not know.
12They repay me evil for good;
my soul is desolate.#e. [35:12] Ps 27:12; 38:20–21; 109:5; Jer 18:20.
13#The Hebrew is obscure.Yet I, when they were ill, put on sackcloth,
afflicted myself with fasting,
sobbed my prayers upon my bosom.
14I went about in grief as for my brother,
bent in mourning as for my mother.
15Yet when I stumbled they gathered with glee,
gathered against me and I did not know it.
They slandered me without ceasing;
16without respect they mocked me,
gnashed their teeth against me.
17O Lord, how long will you look on?
Restore my soul from their destruction,
my very life from lions!#f. [35:17] Ps 17:12; 22:22; 58:7.
18Then I will thank you in the great assembly;
I will praise you before the mighty throng.#g. [35:18] Ps 22:23; 26:12; 35:18; 40:10; 149:1.
19Do not let lying foes rejoice over me,
my undeserved enemies wink knowingly.#h. [35:19] Ps 38:17.
20They speak no words of peace,
but against the quiet in the land
they fashion deceitful speech.#i. [35:20] Ps 120:6–7.
21They open wide their mouths against me.
They say, “Aha! Good!
Our eyes have seen it!”#j. [35:21] Ps 40:16; Lam 2:16.
22You see this, Lord; do not be silent;#k. [35:22] Ps 22:12; 38:21; 109:1.
Lord, do not withdraw from me.
23Awake, be vigilant in my defense,
in my cause, my God and my Lord.
24Defend me because you are just, Lord;
my God, do not let them rejoice over me.
25Do not let them say in their hearts,
“Aha! Our soul!”#Aha! Our soul!: an ancient idiomatic expression meaning that we have attained what we wanted.
Do not let them say,
“We have devoured that one!”
26Put to shame and confound
all who relish my misfortune.
Clothe with shame and disgrace
those who lord it over me.
27But let those who favor my just cause
shout for joy and be glad.
May they ever say, “Exalted be the Lord
who delights in the peace of his loyal servant.”
28Then my tongue shall recount your justice,
declare your praise, all the day long.#l. [35:28] Ps 71:15–16.
Great Is the Lord
Of David.
1 Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me!
2 Take hold of shield and buckler
and rise for my help!
3 Draw the spear and javelin
against my pursuers!
Say to my soul,
"I am your salvation!"
4 Let them be put to shame and dishonor
who seek after my life!
Let them be turned back and disappointed
who devise evil against me!
5 Let them be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the Lord driving them away!
6 Let their way be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them!
7 For without cause they hid their net for me;
without cause they dug a pit for my life.
8 Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it!
And let the net that he hid ensnare him;
let him fall into it—to his destruction!
9 Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord,
exulting in his salvation.
10 All my bones shall say,
"O Lord, who is like you,
delivering the poor
from him who is too strong for him,
the poor and needy from him who robs him?"
11 Malicious witnesses rise up;
they ask me of things that I do not know.
12 They repay me evil for good;
my soul is bereft.
13 But I, when they were sick—
I wore sackcloth;
I afflicted myself with fasting;
I prayed with head bowed on my chest.
14 I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother;
as one who laments his mother,
I bowed down in mourning.
15 But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered;
they gathered together against me;
wretches whom I did not know
tore at me without ceasing;
16 like profane mockers at a feast,
they gnash at me with their teeth.
17 How long, O Lord, will you look on?
Rescue me from their destruction,
my precious life from the lions!
18 I will thank you in the great congregation;
in the mighty throng I will praise you.
19 Let not those rejoice over me
who are wrongfully my foes,
and let not those wink the eye
who hate me without cause.
20 For they do not speak peace,
but against those who are quiet in the land
they devise words of deceit.
21 They open wide their mouths against me;
they say, "Aha, Aha!
Our eyes have seen it!"
22 You have seen, O Lord; be not silent!
O Lord, be not far from me!
23 Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication,
for my cause, my God and my Lord!
24 Vindicate me, O Lord, my God,
according to your righteousness,
and let them not rejoice over me!
25 Let them not say in their hearts,
"Aha, our heart's desire!"
Let them not say, "We have swallowed him up."
26 Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether
who rejoice at my calamity!
Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor
who magnify themselves against me!
27 Let those who delight in my righteousness
shout for joy and be glad
and say evermore,
"Great is the Lord,
who delights in the welfare of his servant!"
28 Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
and of your praise all the day long.