In the latter part of Psalm 35, David appeals to the Lord, the Avenger of His people. He cries out to the One who would vindicate him and be a so cause of praise to His holy name.
Psalm 35:15-28 – A Psalm of David
But in my adversity they rejoiced And gathered together; Attackers gathered against me, And I did not know it; They tore at me and did not cease; With ungodly mockers at feasts They gnashed at me with their teeth. Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue me from their destructions, My precious life from the lions. I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people. Let them not rejoice over me who are wrongfully my enemies; Nor let them wink with the eye who hate me without a cause.
For they do not speak peace, But they devise deceitful matters Against the quiet ones in the land. They also opened their mouth wide against me, And said, “Aha, aha! Our eyes have seen it.” This You have seen, O Lord; Do not keep silence. O Lord, do not be far from me. Stir up Yourself, and awake to my vindication, To my cause, my God and my Lord. Vindicate me, O Lord my God, according to Your righteousness; And let them not rejoice over me. Do not let them say in their hearts, “Ah, so we would have it!” Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.”
Shout for joy and be glad
Let them be ashamed and brought to mutual confusion Who rejoice at my hurt. Cause them to be clothed with shame and dishonor Who exalt themselves against me. Let them shout for joy and be glad, Who favour my righteous cause; And let them say continually, “Let the Lord be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness And of Your praise all the day long.
Henry says – With what brutish enmity his enemies behaved towards David (Ps. 35:15, 16); In my adversity they rejoiced. When he fell under the frowns of Saul, they persecuted him as a criminal and were glad at his calamities. Nothing can be more vile and sordid than to triumph in the fall of a man of such unstained honour and virtue. But this was not all, they blackened his good name without mercy and fastened upon him all the malice they could.
They hated him without a cause
Such has often been the hard fate of the best of men. The apostles were made a spectacle to the world. David was looked upon with ill-will for no other reason than because he was esteemed by the people. For this a man is envied of his neighbour, Eccl. 4:4. And who can stand before envy? Prov. 27:4.
David describes the great injustice and malice of his persecutors. He pleaded this with God as a reason why He should protect him from them and appear against them. They were very unrighteous and were his enemies wrongfully, for he never gave them any reason for this injustice: They hated him without a cause. They ought rather to have loved and honoured him.
To live peaceably
This is quoted as an application to Christ and was also fulfilled in Him. John 15:25; They hated Me without cause and were very rude and could not find it in their hearts to show Him common civility. They do not speak peace. If they met Him, they had not the good manners to give Him the time of day. Like Joseph’s brethren, that could not speak peaceably to him, Gen. 37:4. They were very proud and scornful (Ps. 35:21): They opened their mouth wide against me; they shouted and were delighted when they saw his fall. They bawled after him when he was forced to quit the court, “Aha! aha! this is the day we longed to see.”
They were very barbarous and base, for they trampled upon him when he was down and rejoiced at his hurt, and magnified themselves against him, Ps. 35:26. When the Son of David was betrayed by the rulers, the people cried, Crucify Him, crucify Him. They set themselves against all the sober good people that adhered to David (Ps. 35:20): They devised deceitful matters, to ruin those who were quiet in the land. It is the character of the godly in the land that they are the quiet in the land. They are they who live in all dutiful subjection to government as to the Lord according to conscience, and endeavour, as much as in them lies, to live peaceably with all men.
I am for peace
Even when they have been misrepresented as enemies to the authorities. I am for peace, Ps. 120:7. Though the people of God study to be a quiet people, yet it has been the common practice of their enemies to devise deceitful matters against them. All the hellish arts of malice and falsehood are made use of to render them despicable. Their words and actions are misconstrued and laws are made to ensnare them (Dan. 6:4), and all to ruin them and root them out. Those who hated David contrived to involve all the people of his faith in the land in the same ruin with him.
He appeals to God against them, the God to whom vengeance belongs. (Ps. 35:22): This You have seen. They had falsely accused him, but God, who knows all things, knew that David had not falsely accused them, nor make them out to be worse than really they were. They had carried on their plots against him with a great degree of secrecy (Ps. 35:15): “I knew it not, till long after, when they themselves gloried in it. But Your eye was upon them in their close cabals and You are a witness of all they have said and done against me and Your people.”
Hear in heaven
He appeals to God’s justice: Awake to my judgment, even to my cause, and let it have a hearing at Your bar, Ps. 35:23. “Judge me, O Lord my God! pass sentence upon this appeal, according to the righteousness of Your nature and government,” Ps. 35:24. See this explained by Solomon, 1 Kgs. 7:31, 32. When You are appealed to, hear in heaven, and judge, by condemning the wicked and justifying the righteous.
David prays earnestly to God to appear graciously for him and his friends, against their enemies. He desires that by God’s providence the struggle might result in David’s honour and comfort. Longing for the conviction and confusion of his persecutors, David prays that God would act for him, and not stand by as a spectator (Ps. 35:17): “Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue my soul from the destructions they are plotting against me. Rescue my darling, my only one, from the lions. My soul is my only one, and therefore the greater is the shame if I neglect it and the greater the loss if I lose it.
Lord, do not keep silent
It is my soul that is in danger, Lord, rescue it. Claim it as Your own as it belongs to You the Father of spirits. It is Yours, save it. Lord, do not keep silent, as if You did consent to what is done against me! Lord, be not far from me (Ps. 35:22), as if I were a stranger that You were not concerned for.”
He prays that his enemies might not have cause to rejoice (Ps. 35:19): Let them not rejoice over me (and again, Ps. 35:24). This is not so much because it would be a mortification to him to be trampled upon, but because it would dishonour God and be a reproach of his confidence in God. It would harden the hearts of his enemies in their wickedness and confirm them in their enmity to him. It would be a great discouragement to all the pious Jews that were his friends.
He prays that he would not be reduced to such extremity that they would say, We have swallowed him up. For then they will reflect upon God Himself. But, on the contrary, that they might be ashamed and brought to confusion together (Ps. 35:26, Ps. 35:4). He desires that his innocence would be cleared up that they might be ashamed of the troubles which they had loaded on him.
They shall be glad in due time
He prays that his friends might have cause to rejoice and give glory to God, Ps. 35:27. There were some who favoured his righteous cause. They knew that he was wronged and held great affection for him. He prays that they might rejoice with him in his joys. It is a great pleasure to all who are good to see an honest man, and an honest cause, prevail and prosper. Those who heartily embrace the interests of God’s people, and are willing to take their lot with them even when they are trampled upon, shall in due time be glad. For the righteous cause will at length be a victorious cause.
David desires that they might join with him in his praises. Let them say continually, The Lord be magnified, by us and others, who has pleasure in the prosperity of his servant. The great God has pleasure in the prosperity of good people, not only of His family but of every particular servant in His family. He has pleasure in the prosperity both of their temporal and of their spiritual affairs. He does not delight in their griefs, for He does not willingly afflict them. We also therefore ought to have pleasure in their prosperity, and not to envy it.
I will give You thanks
David hoped to win mercy by prayer that he promises to wear with praise: “I will give You thanks, as the author of my deliverance (Ps. 35:18), and my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness. He gave thanks publicly, as one who took pleasure in owning his obligations to his God. David was so far from being ashamed of them. He will do it in the great congregation, and among many people, that God might be honoured and many edified.
David declared that he would speak God’s praise every day and all the day long. For it is a subject that will never be exhausted, not by the endless praises of saints and angels.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
[Slide right to left] The Path of the Righteous The road the righteous travel Is like the sunrise Getting brighter and brighter til noonday Comes to fill the longing eyes. The road of the wicked however Is dark as darkest night. They fall, but cannot see what they have stumbled over For they only have partial sight. Pay attention My son To what I say. Keep these thoughts in your heart Never let them slip away. For, they are life to those Who find them and understand They bring health for the whole body And are guided by My hand. Above all else guard your affections They can bring such strife For they influence everything else In your life. Have nothing to do with lies and misleading words Never say anything that isn’t true. Keep your eyes looking straight ahead Fix your gaze directly before you. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer for the Day
Prayer: Father, I come to You. Whenever I am accused may I never be one who falsely accuses another or makes people out to be worse than they really are. For You alone are the Judge of all hearts. You alone are a witness of all that has been said and done against Your people. I pray that in all my struggles You will be honoured and glorified. May I never neglect my soul but protect it and preserve it for You and Your interests. Rescue it from any danger. For it belongs to You as the Father of spirits.
Where I am accused I pray that my innocence would be cleared up that my friends might have cause to rejoice and give glory to You. May I be as one who heartily embraces the interests of You and Your people, and be willing to take my lot with them even when they are trampled upon. For I know in due time we shall be glad. For the righteous cause will at length be a victorious cause.
The Lord be magnified. Prosper us temporarily and spiritually Lord, for I know You have great pleasure in the prosperity of Your people. Help us also to have pleasure in one another’s prosperity, and never to envy it. And I will give You thanks, as the author of my deliverance and my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness. May I give thanks publicly, as one who takes pleasure in owning my obligations to You and never be ashamed of them. May You be honoured and many edified by my testimony. Compel me to speak Your praises every day and all the day long. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.