35 Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me.
2 Take up shield and buckler;
arise and come to my aid.
3 Brandish spear and javelin
against those who pursue me.
Say to my soul,
“I am your salvation.”
4 May those who seek my life
be disgraced and put to shame;
may those who plot my ruin
be turned back in dismay.
5 May they be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the Lord driving them away;
6 may their path be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
7 Since they hid their net for me without cause
and without cause dug a pit for me,
8 may ruin overtake them by surprise —
may the net they hid entangle them,
may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.
9 Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord
and delight in his salvation.
10 My whole being will exclaim,
“Who is like you, O Lord?
You rescue the poor from those too strong for them,
the poor and needy from those who rob them.”
Psalm 35 is one of the imprecatory psalms: psalms in which the writer asks God to pour out judgment on his enemies.
The theme of verses 1-10 is Lord, save me!
How are we to deal with these kinds of requests? It’s easy to simply say “that’s the Old Testament; we’re under grace” and to a certain degree that’s true but it really doesn’t answer the fundamental issue here in this Psalm. That answer doesn’t seem to be congruent with a God that loved the world so much that He gave His Son for us. It doesn’t even seem congruent with the way God told His people to live (in either covenant!) So, what are we are to do?
1. Each of the imprecatory Psalms are said to have been written by David. That’s important because we know a great deal about David as a person. In spite of how these Psalms sound, David was never known to be a vindictive person. His dealings with Saul prove just the contrary. David forgave his enemies.
2. It’s critically important to realize: in these imprecatory Psalms David declares his innocence. He stands blameless before the Father. He knows his heart and he proclaims he has done nothing to deserve this.
3. In spite of the adjustment of tone in the New Testament from the Old Testament, the rejoicing of the righteous at the demise of the wicked is not absent. The primary text to back this up is Revelation 18-19 where the reighteous are rejoicing at the judgment of the earth. Rev. 18:20 says, “Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you”.
The hosts of heaven actually rejoice in Rev. 19:3 that “the smoke from her goes up forever and ever”.
As far as Jesus himself is concerned, we must remember that the One who said, “Father, forgive them,” also pronounced a terrible set of judgments on the upon the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, as noted in Matthew 23.
The balanced needed for these imprecatory Psalms, then is the realization of these three things with the fact that David was in all likelihood writing as the king of Israel not a private citizen ticked off at someone. In addition, let us all temper this by the knowledge of our own filthiness and frequent hypocrisy.
A Prayer for Intercession (Verses 1-6)
· David is asking God to step in and take over in the situation. He knows that vengeance belongs to the Lord. Deut 32:35a It is mine to avenge; I will repay.
A Prayer for Deliverance (Verses 7-10)
· The deliverance of the Lord from these traps that may be unseen will further underscore that God is with Him. God’s glory would be revealed by his deliverance.