Psalms 35


The psalmist, in great straits, prays for his personal safety,


and for the confusion of his enemies, 4-8;

expresses has confidence in God, 9, 10;

mentions his kindness to those who had rewarded him evil for

his good, 11-16;

appeals to God against them, 17-26;

prays for those who befriended him; and praises God for his

goodness, 27, 28.


There is nothing in the title worthy of remark. The Psalm is

simply attributed to David, and was most probably of his

composing; and refers to the time of his persecution by Saul and

his courtiers. The Syriac says it was composed when the Idumeans

attacked David. The Arabic says it is a prophecy concerning the

incarnation, and concerning the things practised against Jeremiah

by the people. Some think that our Lord's sufferings are

particularly pointed out here; and Bishop Horsley thinks that

verses 11 to 16 apply more literally and exactly to Christ than to

any other whomsoever.

Verse 1. Plead my cause, O Lord] Literally, Contend, Lord, with

then that contend with me. The word is often used in a forensic or

law sense.

Verse 2. Take hold of shield and buckler] Let them be

discomfited in battle who are striving to destroy my life. It is

by the shield and buckler of others, not any of his own,

that God overthrows the enemies of his people. This is spoken

merely after the manner of men.

Verse 3. Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.] Give me an

assurance that thou wilt defend both body and soul against my


Verse 4. Let then be confounded] Let none of their projects or

devices against me succeed. Blast all their designs.

The imprecations in these verses against enemies are all

legitimate. They are not against the souls or eternal welfare of

those sinners, but against their schemes and plans for destroying

the life of an innocent man; and the holiest Christian may offer

up such prayers against his adversaries. If a man aim a blow at

another with a design to take away his life, and the blow would

infallibly be mortal if it took place, and the person about to be

slain see that by breaking the arm of his adversary he may prevent

his own death, and thus save his enemy from actual murder; it is

his duty to prevent this double evil by breaking the arm of the

blood-thirsty man. It is on this principle that David prays

against his adversaries in the first eight verses of this Psalm.

Verse 5. Let the angel of the Lord chase them.] By angel we may

either understand one of those spirits, whether good or bad,

commonly thus denominated, or any thing used by God himself as the

instrument of their confusion.

Verse 6. Let their way be dark] Let them lose their way, be

entangled in morasses and thickets, and be confounded in all their

attempts to injure me. All these phrases are military; and relate

to ambushes, hidden snares, forced marches in order to surprise,

and stratagems of different kinds.

Verse 7. For without cause have they hid for me their net in a

pit] The word shachath, a pit, belongs to the second

member of this verse, and the whole should be read thus: For

without a cause they have hidden for me their net, without a cause

they have digged a pit for my life. They have used every degree

and species of cunning and deceit to ruin me.

Verse 8. Let his net that he hath hid] See the notes on

Ps 7:15, 16.

Verse 9. My soul] My life, thus saved-

Shall be joyful in the Lord] I am so circumstanced at present as

to be in the utmost danger of being destroyed by my foes; if I

escape, it must be by the strong arm of the Lord; and to him shall

the glory be given.

Verse 10. All my bones shall say] My life being preserved, all

the members of my body shall magnify thy saving mercy.

Deliverest the poor] This is a general maxim: God is peculiarly

mindful of the poor. Where secular advantages are withheld, there

is the more need for spiritual help. God considers this, and his

kind providence works accordingly.

Verse 11. False witnesses did rise up] There is no doubt that

several of this kind were found to depose against the life of

David; and we know that the wicked Jews employed such against the

life of Christ. See Mt 26:59, 60.

They laid to my charge things that I knew not.] They produced

the most unfounded charges; things of which I had never before


Verse 12. To the spoiling of my soul] To destroy my life; so

nephesh should be translated in a multitude of places, where our

translators have used the word soul.

Verse 13. When they were sick] This might refer to the case of

Absalom, who was much beloved of his father, and for whose life

and prosperity he no doubt often prayed, wept, and fasted.

My prayer returned into mine own bosom.] Though from the wayward

and profligate life they led, they did not profit by my prayers,

yet God did not permit me to pray in vain. They were like alms

given to the miserable for God's sake, who takes care to return to

the merciful man tenfold into his bosom. The bosom is not only the

place where the Asiatics carry their purses, but also where they

carry any thing that is given to them.

Verse 14. Mourneth for his mother.] caabel em, as

a mourning mother. How expressive is this word!

Verse 15. But in mine adversity they rejoiced] How David was

mocked and insulted in the case of Absalom's rebellion by Shimei

and others, is well known.

The abjects] nechim, the smiters, probably hired

assassins. They were everywhere lying in wait, to take away my


Verse 16. With hypocritical mockers in feasts] These verses seem

to be prophetic of the treatment of Christ. They did tear me, and

I knew it not. They blindfolded and buffeted him; they placed him

in such circumstances as not to be able to discern who insulted

him, except by a supernatural knowledge. With hypocritical mockers

in feasts may also relate prophetically to our Lord's sufferings.

Herod clothed him in a purple robe, put a reed in his hand for a

sceptre, bowed the knee before him, and set him at naught. Here

their hypocritical conduct (pretending one thing while they meant

another) was manifest, and possibly; this occurred at one of

Herod's feasts.

Verse 17. My darling] yechidathi, my only one,

Ps 22:20.

My united one, or He that is alone. Perhaps this may relate to

Christ. See Clarke on Ps 22:20.

Verse 18. I will give thee thanks in the great congregation] I

hope to be able to attend at the tabernacle with thy followers,

and there publicly express my gratitude for the deliverance thou

hast given me.

Verse 19. That are mine enemies] Saul and his courtiers.

Verse 21. They opened their mouth wide] Gaped upon me to express

their contempt.

And said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.] They said,

heach, heach, the last syllable in each word being a protracted

strongly guttural sound, marking insult and triumph at the same

time. It is the word which we translate Ah, Ps 35:25.

Verse 22. This thou hast seen] I have no need to adduce

evidences of these wrongs; thou, to whom I appeal, hast seen them.


Verse 23. Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment] I have

delivered my cause into thy hand, and appeal to thee as my Judge;

and by thy decision I am most willing to abide.

Verse 24. Judge me, O Lord my God] The manner of his appeal

shows the strong confidence he had in his own innocence.

Verse 25. Swallowed him up.] billaanuhu, we have gulped

him down.

Verse 26. Let them be ashamed] This may be a prophetic

declaration against Saul and his courtiers. They were ashamed,

confounded, clothed with shame, and dishonoured. All these took

place in Saul's last battle with the Philistines, where he lost

his crown and his life, and came to a most dishonourable end.

Verse 27. Let them shout for joy and be glad] While my enemies

are confounded, let my friends exult in the Lord; and let them all

praise him for his marvellous kindness to me.

Verse 28. And my tongue shall speak] I, who am chiefly

concerned, and who have received most, am under the greatest

obligation; and it will require the constant gratitude and

obedience of my whole life to discharge the mighty debt I owe.


This Psalm may be divided into three parts:- I. A prayer for

defence against his enemies. In which he prays, 1. For protection,

Ps 35:1-3, 17, 19, 22-25. And, 2. Imprecates evil to fall on

their counsels and designs.

II. A bitter complaint against the malice of his enemies, which

he pours out into the ears of God as motives to plead his cause,

Ps 35:7, 11-16, 19-21.

III. An expression of his trust and confidence in God for help

and deliverance; his joy in it, Ps 35:9, 10; his thanks for it,

Ps 35:18, 28; and a motive to others to do the like, Ps 35:27.

1. In the courts of men and princes, innocent persons are often

oppressed by false accusations and calumnies, persecuted and

overborne by power.

He then, first, prays to God to be his Advocate, his Patron, and

his Protector: 1. "Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive

against me." 2. "Fight against them that fight against me," &c. 3.

"Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation." Assure me of thy favour.

He secondly, begins an imprecation against his enemies: 1. "Let

them be confounded and put to shame," Ps 35:4. 2. "Let them be as

chaff before the wind," Ps 35:5. 3. "Let their way be dark and

slippery," Ps 35:6. 4. "Let destruction come upon him unawares,"

Ps 35:8.

And here he inserts some reasons for his petition and


1. From the justice of his cause, and their injustice:

"Without cause they hid for me their net," Ps 35:7.

2. From his gratitude; that, being delivered, he would be

thankful: "And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord," &c.,

Ps 35:9, 10.

3. From his enemies' dealings with him, Ps 35:11-17.

II. He then enters upon his complaint; and lays to their charge,

1. Perfidiousness, extreme malice, and perjury: "False witnesses

did rise," &c.

2. Ingratitude. They rewarded me evil for good. Good he did to

them; for, when they were afflicted, he fasted and prayed for


3. They were cruel to him: "In my adversity they rejoiced."

4. They mocked him and made him their cruel sport: "The abjects

gathered themselves together against me," &c.

5. And a conspiracy in all, Ps 35:20, 21.

Then he returns again to his petition; and expostulates with

God, wondering that he should be so patient with them: "Lord, how

long wilt thou look on? Rescue my soul from destruction," &c.

And, to move God the sooner to do it, he repeats his former

reason, Ps 35:9, engaging himself to be thankful: "I will give

thee thanks in the great congregation; I will praise thee among

much people."

He continues his suit to the end of the Psalm; sometimes

praying, at others imprecating.

1. He deprecates: "Let not my enemies wrongfully rejoice over

me, neither let them wink with the eye," &c. And that God may be

the readier to hear him, and stay their joy and triumph, he

subjoins these reasons: 1. "For they speak not peace." 2. "They

devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land."

3. They are impudent, lying people: "Yea, they opened their mouth

wide against me," &c. This is a truth; this is not hidden from

thee: "This thou hast seen," and from them to thee I turn my eyes;

and thus renew my prayer:-

1. "Keep not silence." Do not appear to neglect my cause; nor to

let them pass on with impunity.

2. "Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment," &c. Defend me,

and confound them:-

3. "Judge me according to thy righteousness," which suffers not

the just to be always oppressed.

4. "Let them not rejoice over me," and, in me, over the truth,

and over a just cause.

5. "Let them not say in their hearts, So would we have it," &c.

6. But rather let that befall them which I have prayed for: "Let

them be ashamed,-brought to confusion,-and clothed with shame and

dishonour, that magnify themselves against me."

III. In the conclusion he expresses his trust and confidence in

God; and intimates that if he be heard, then he, and the whole

Church, and all good men, will rejoice together.

1. To them he first directs his speech: "Let them shout for joy

that favour my righteous cause; yea, let them say continually; Let

the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of

his servant."

2. He then declares what effect this will have upon him in

particular: "My tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy

praise all the day long."

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