David prays for safety. (1-10) He complains of his enemies. (11-16) And calls upon God to support him. (17-28)
Verses 1-10 It is no new thing for the most righteous men, and the most righteous cause, to meet with enemies. This is a fruit of the old enmity in the seed of the serpent against the Seed of the woman. David in his afflictions, Christ in his sufferings, the church under persecution, and the Christian in the hour temptation, all beseech the Almighty to appear in their behalf, and to vindicate their cause. We are apt to justify uneasiness at the injuries men do us, by our never having given them cause to use us so ill; but this should make us easy, for then we may the more expect that God will plead our cause. David prayed to God to manifest himself in his trial. Let me have inward comfort under all outward troubles, to support my soul. If God, by his Spirit, witness to our spirits that he is our salvation, we need desire no more to make us happy. If God is our Friend, no matter who is our enemy. By the Spirit of prophecy, David foretells the just judgments of God that would come upon his enemies for their great wickedness. These are predictions, they look forward, and show the doom of the enemies of Christ and his kingdom. We must not desire or pray for the ruin of any enemies, except our lusts and the evil spirits that would compass our destruction. A traveller benighted in a bad road, is an expressive emblem of a sinner walking in the slippery and dangerous ways of temptation. But David having committed his cause to God, did not doubt of his own deliverance. The bones are the strongest parts of the body. The psalmist here proposes to serve and glorify God with all his strength. If such language may be applied to outward salvation, how much more will it apply to heavenly things in Christ Jesus!
Verses 11-16 Call a man ungrateful, and you can call him no worse: this was the character of David's enemies. Herein he was a type of Christ. David shows how tenderly he had behaved towards them in afflictions. We ought to mourn for the sins of those who do not mourn for themselves. We shall not lose by the good offices we do to any, how ungrateful soever they may be. Let us learn to possess our souls in patience and meekness like David, or rather after Christ's example.
Verses 17-28 Though the people of God are, and study to be, quiet, yet it has been common for their enemies to devise deceitful matters against them. David prays, My soul is in danger, Lord, rescue it; it belongs to thee the Father of spirits, therefore claim thine own; it is thine, save it! Lord, be not far from me, as if I were a stranger. He who exalted the once suffering Redeemer, will appear for all his people: the roaring lion shall not destroy their souls, any more than he could that of Christ, their Surety. They trust their souls in his hands, they are one with him by faith, are precious in his sight, and shall be rescued from destruction, that they may give thanks in heaven.
Psalms 35:1-28 . The Psalmist invokes God's aid, contrasting the hypocrisy, cunning, and malice of his enemies with his integrity and generosity. The imprecations of the first part including a brief notice of their conduct, the fuller exposition of their hypocrisy and malice in the second, and the earnest prayer for deliverance from their scornful triumph in the last, are each closed ( Psalms 35:9 Psalms 35:10 Psalms 35:18 Psalms 35:27 Psalms 35:28 ) with promises of praise for the desired relief, in which his friends will unite. The historical occasion is probably 1 Samuel 24:1-22 .
1-3. God is invoked in the character of a warrior ( Exodus 15:3 , Deuteronomy 32:41 ).
3. fight against--literally, "devour my devourers."
stop the way against--literally, "shut up" (the way), to meet or oppose, &c.
I . . . thy salvation--who saves thee.
4. (Compare Psalms 9:17 ).
devise my hurt--purpose for evil to me.
5, 6. (Compare Psalms 1:4 )--a terrible fate; driven by wind on a slippery path in darkness, and hotly pursued by supernatural violence ( 2 Samuel 24:16 , Acts 12:23 ).
7, 8. net in a pit--or, "pit of their net"--or, "net-pit," as "holy hill" for "hill of holiness" ( Psalms 2:6 ); a figure from hunting ( Psalms 7:15 ). Their imprecations on impenitent rebels against God need no vindication; His justice and wrath are for such; His mercy for penitents. Compare Psalms 7:16 , 11:5 , on the peculiar fate of the wicked here noticed.
10. All my bones--every part.
him that spoileth him--(Compare Psalms 10:2 ).
11. False witnesses--literally, "Witnesses of injustice and cruelty" (compare Psalms 11:5 , 25:19 ).
12-14. Though they rendered evil for good, he showed a tender sympathy in their affliction.
spoiling--literally, "bereavement." The usual modes of showing grief are made, as figures, to express his sorrow.
13. prayer . . . bosom--may denote either the posture--the head bowed--(compare 1 Kings 18:42 )--or, that the prayer was in secret. Some think there is a reference to the result--the prayer would benefit him if not them.
14. behaved--literally, "went on"--denoting his habit.
heavily--or, "squalidly," his sorrowing occasioning neglect of his person. Altogether, his grief was that of one for a dearly loved relative.
15, 16. On the contrary, they rejoiced in his affliction. Halting, or, "lameness," as in Psalms 38:17 for any distress.
abjects--either as cripples (compare 2 Samuel 4:4 ), contemptible; or, degraded persons, such as had been beaten (compare Job 30:1-8 ).
I knew it not--either the persons, or, reasons of such conduct.
tear me, and ceased not--literally, "were not silent"--showing that the tearing meant slandering.
16. mockers--who were hired to make sport at feasts ( Proverbs 28:21 ).
17. darling--(Compare Psalms 22:20 Psalms 22:21 ).
18. (Compare Psalms 22:22 ).
19. enemies wrongfully--by false and slanderous imputations.
wink with the eye--an insulting gesture ( Proverbs 6:13 ).
without a cause--manifests more malice than having a wrong cause.
20. deceitful matters--or, "words of deceit."
quiet in the land--the pious lovers of peace.
21. On the gesture compare Psalms 22:7 ; and on the expressions of malicious triumph, compare Psalms 10:13 , 28:3 .
23, 24. (Compare Psalms 7:6 , 26:1 , 2 Thessalonians 1:6 ). God's righteous government is the hope of the pious and terror of the wicked.
25. swallowed him up--utterly destroyed him ( Psalms 21:9 , Lamentations 2:16 ).
26. clothed--covered wholly ( Job 8:22 ).
27. favour . . . cause--delight in it, as vindicated by Thee.
Let the Lord, &c.--Let Him be greatly praised for His care of the just.
28. In this praise of God's equitable government ( Psalms 5:8 ) the writer promises ever to engage.