PSALM 35 OVERVIEW
Title. A Psalm of David. Here is all we know concerning this Psalm, but internal evidence seems to fix the date of its composition in those troublous times when Saul hunted David over hill and dale, and when those who fawned upon the cruel king, slandered the innocent object of his wrath, or it may be referred to the unquiet days of frequent insurrections in David's old age. The whole Psalm is the appeal to heaven of a bold heart and a clear conscience, irritated beyond measure by oppression and malice. Beyond a doubt David's Lord may be seen here by the spiritual eye.
Divisions. The most natural mode of dividing this Psalm is to note its triple character. Its complaint, prayer, and promise of praise are repeated with remarkable parallelism three times, even as our Lord in the Garden prayed three times, using the same words. The first portion occupies from Psalms 35:1-10 , the second from Psalms 35:11-18 , and the last from Ps 35:19-28; each section ending with a note of grateful song.
Verse 1. Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me. Plead against those who plead against me; strive with my strivers; contend with my contenders. If they urge their suit in the law court, Lord, meet them there, and beat them at their own weapons. Every saint of God shall have this privilege: the accuser of the brethren shall be met by the Advocate of the saints. Fight against them that fight against me. If my advisers try force as well as fraud, be a match for them; oppose thy strength to their strength. Jesus does this for all his beloved -- for them he is both intercessor and champion; whatever aid they need they shall receive from him, and in whatever manner they are assaulted they shall be effectually defended. Let us not fail to leave our case into the Lord's hand. Vain is the help of man, but ever effectual is the interposition of heaven. What is here asked for as a boon, may be regarded as a promise to all the saints; in judgment they shall have a divine advocate, in warfare a divine protection.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. Bonar entitles this Psalm, "The awful utterance of the Righteous One regarding those that hate him without cause," and he makes the following remarks thereupon: -- "Throughout the endless day of eternity the Lord Jesus shall himself speak the Father's `praise,' and shall put marked emphasis on his `righteousness' -- that righteousness which shall have been exhibited, both in the doom of those who hated the offered Redeemer, and in the salvation of those who received him. There is nothing in all this wherein his own may not fully join, especially on that day when their views of justice shall be far clearer and fuller than now. On that day we shall be able to understand how Samuel could hew Agag in pieces, and the godly hosts of Israel slay utterly in Canaan man and woman and child, at God's command. We shall be able, not only fully agree in the doom, `Let them be confounded,' etc., but even to sing, `Amen, Hallelujah,' over the smoke of torment. Re 19:1-2. We should in some measure now be able to see every verse of this Psalm in the spirit in which the Judge speaks it, we feeling ourselves his assessors in judging the world. 1 Corinthians 6:2 . We shall, at all events, be able to use it on that day when what is written here shall be all accomplished." Andrew A. Bonar.
Verse 1. Plead my cause, O God, with them that strive with me.
- Doth the world condemn thee for thy zeal in the service of God? Reproachfully scorn thee for thy care to maintain good works? not blush to traduce thee with imputations of preciseness, conceited singularity, pharisaical hypocrisy? Oh, but if thy conscience condemn thee not all this while, if that be rectified by the sacred word of God, if thou aim at his glory in pursuing thine own salvation, and side not with the disturbers of the church, go on, good Christian, in the practice of piety, discourage not thyself in thy laudable endeavours, but recount with comfort that the Lord is thy judge 1 Corinthians 4:4 , with a scio cui crediderim, "I know whom I have believed." 2Ti 1:12.
- Art thou wrongfully adjudged in the erroneous courts of men? are truth and righteousness gone aside from their proper places? Is equity neglected, and poverty overlaid? Well, have patience awhile, cheer up thy fainting spirits, there is a God that beholdeth the innocency of thy cause, unto whom thou hast liberty to make thy last appeal: Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me. Or,
- Art thou otherwise injured by the hands of malicious men? and doth a penurious estate disable thee to sue for amends? Doth a Nimrod oppress thee? A Laban defraud thee? A covetous landlord gripe thee? Well, yet take not the matter into thine own hands by attempting unlawful courses; presume not to be judge in thine own cause, for default of a present redress; but often remember what the apostle taught his Thessalonians: "It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you." Isaac Craven's Sermon at Paul's Cross,
Verse 1. Plead, etc. More literally, litigate, O Lord, with them that litigate against me, contend against them that contend with me; i.e., avenge me of mine adversaries. Daniel Cresswell, D.D., F.R.S., in "The Psalms of David according to the Book of Common Prayer: with Critical and Explanatory Notes", 1843.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 1. Jesus our Advocate and Champion; our friend in the courts of heaven and the battles of earth.