Psalms 1 - 50by Mike Raiter
Sometimes, our troubles seem never-ending. There may be a family member, a neighbour, or a co-worker who, despite all the good you do for them, continues trying to make your life as difficult as possible.
There were times when David must have felt that his troubles would never end. It is possible that Saul relentlessly pursued David for as long as seven or eight years to kill him. David had done nothing to hurt Saul. In fact, he remained loyal to this wicked king. Yet, Saul and many with him repaid David's kindness by plotting his ruin (Psalm 35:4).
There are three parts to Psalm 35 (vv. 1-10, 11-18, 19-28). In the first, David repeatedly pleads with God to intervene and rescue him. He asks for justice, which is essentially giving people what they deserve. The innocent deserve acquittal. The guilty deserve punishment. For example, David prays about those who have dug a pit for him to fall into, saying: ″May they fall into the pit, to their ruin″ (v. 8). David rightly understands the true character of justice and vengeance. He recognises that it is for God alone to exact vengeance, and leaves justice to Him (v. 23).
The second part is the most heart-breaking (vv. 11-18). The people who hate David and have turned against him are those he once considered friends. He loved them and cared for them: ″When they were ill, I put on sackcloth″ (v. 13). Now, they slander him and gloat over his distress (vv. 15, 19, 24, 26).
In the third part, David looks to the Lord for vindication (v. 24). He asks that God ″put to shame″ those who have treated him so cruelly (v. 26).One can feel David's anger in this psalm. It hurts so much when people to whom you have been kind, treat you so badly. This is a righteous anger in tune with the heart of God. Jesus displayed this kind of anger at the religious leaders who opposed Him despite the good He had done (e.g. Mark 3:1-5).
It is important to note, though, how each section of this psalm ends: ″Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord″ (Psalm 35:9); ″I will give you thanks in the great assembly″ (v. 18); ″My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long″ (v. 28). We suffer injustice and, appropriately, we may be hurt and angry, but we never cease to trust and praise God, who will punish the guilty and vindicate the innocent.
Can you think of times when you felt like David in Psalm 35? How did you respond to those who wronged you? In the light of this psalm, how might you have responded differently?
Christians believe in a final judgment. How does such a belief impact how we might apply this psalm today?