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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Psalms 35

Verses 1-3

David appealed to the Lord for defense, as to a champion who goes out in battle for another (cf. Joshua 5:13-15).

Verses 1-10

1. A prayer for deliverance 35:1-10

In this section David asked God to deliver him from enemies who were trying to kill him without cause.

Verses 1-28

Psalms 35

David lamented the unjustified opposition of his enemies in this psalm and called on God to deliver him. It is really a combination of three laments. The language alternates between legal and military terminology.

"Whether or not this psalm was written as a companion to Psalms 34, it is well placed next to it, not only because of some verbal affinities and contrasts (notably ’the angel of the Lord’, Psalms 34:7; Psalms 35:5-6, found nowhere else in the Psalter), but because it speaks out of the kind of darkness which has just been dispelled in the former psalm. The deliverance celebrated in that psalm is now seen to be not invariably swift or painless, but subject, if God wills, to agonizing delays." [Note: Ibid., p. 142.]

Verses 4-6

He asked God to rout his enemies and humiliate them. He wished God would blow them away like chaff and remove their stability so they would fall. The Angel of the Lord is the leader of God’s heavenly army, the pre-incarnate Christ (cf. Psalms 34:7). David wanted Him to do to his enemies what they intended to do to him. This is in keeping with how God usually deals with the wicked.

Verses 7-8

The reason for David’s request was his enemies’ unwarranted attempts to kill him. He prayed that they might experience the fate they hoped would be his.

Verses 9-10

If God granted deliverance, David promised to rejoice in the Lord and to praise Him.

"My soul (9) and my bones (10) are two emphatic ways of saying ’I’ or ’myself,’ as in Psalms 6:2-3; cf. our own expression ’I know it in my bones’." [Note: Ibid., p. 143.]

Verses 11-12

The psalmist’s malicious enemies were repaying him evil for the good he had done them. They were evidently also charging him falsely.

Verses 11-18

2. A lament over unjust opposition 35:11-18

In the first section of the psalm, the emphasis is on petition, but in this one it is on lament.

Verses 13-14

When they were sick, David prayed for their recovery and mourned over their condition. He even fasted, which shows the extent to which he sacrificed so they would recover. [Note: On the practice of fasting, see Kent D. Berghuis, "A Biblical Perspective on Fasting," Bibliotheca Sacra 158:629 (January-March 2001):86-103.]

Verses 15-16

Conversely when David experienced trouble, rather than showing concern for him, they mocked and really made his condition worse.

Verses 17-18

David called on God to stop waiting and to act for him. When He would, David would give Him public praise.

Verses 19-21

Winking at one another, David’s enemies communicated their sneaky intention to trap the psalmist in their plot. They were lying to turn others against him. They were also giving false testimony concerning his actions.

Verses 19-28

3. A petition for justice 35:19-28

In this section the emphasis lies on the need for God to act for David.

Verses 22-26

Their claims of having seen David do something bad were groundless, but God had seen their evil actions. David called God to end His silence and act for him. By vindicating David, God would frustrate the attempts of the wicked to triumph over the upright.

Verses 27-28

In closing, David asked God to cause his supporters to give glory to the Lord for vindicating His righteous servant. When deliverance came, David too would praise God for His righteous dealings.

The people of God can appeal for vindication when others falsely accuse them of doing evil, and can count on God’s deliverance in the future because He is just.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 35". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-35.html. 2012.