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An appeal to God to deal with the enemies of His people according to the way the enemy has dealt with the godly.
(vv. 1-3) The psalm opens with an appeal to God that He would deal with the wicked according to the way they had dealt with the righteous. “Strive, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.” The soul prays that God would actively intervene against his persecutors, and on behalf of the one who is persecuted.
(vv. 4-10) In verses 4 to 10 the psalmist sets forth his plea for the destruction of his enemies. They have sought after the life of the godly man; they devise his hurt; they have hidden a net in a pit for the destruction of his soul. All this have they done without cause. When destruction comes upon them, the righteous will rejoice in God's salvation; and the Lord will be exalted. It will be said, “who is like unto thee.”
(vv. 11-16) In the verses that follow, 11 to 16, the psalmist spreads out before the Lord the circumstances and behavior of the godly man in this trial. False witnesses laid to his charge things of which he was innocent. They rewarded him evil for good. In these hard circumstances there was no expression of indignation on the part of the sufferer; no reviling, no rebellion against the circumstances. On the contrary there was submission before God - “I humbled my soul with fasting;” and grace to the persecutors - “I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother.” Nevertheless the enmity of his persecutors “ceased not;” and their enmity being all in vain, they gnashed upon the godly with their teeth.
(vv. 17-18) Having spread out his cause before the Lord, the godly man enquires, “Lord, how long wilt thou look on?” He knows there must be a limit set to the persecution. Faith looks to the Lord to rescue the soul from the destructive violence of the wicked. Then will the godly praise the Lord in “the great congregation” - restored Israel; and “among much people” - the Gentile nations.
(vv. 19-28) In the verses that follow the psalmist pleads for the Lord's intervention on two grounds. First, because of the unrighteousness of the wicked; secondly, in order to maintain righteousness - whether it be the righteousness of the Lord (v. 24), or the righteous cause of the godly (v. 27).
The unrighteousness of the enemy is manifest in that they hate the godly without cause (v. 19). They stir up strife against those who are for peace - the “quiet in the land” (v. 20). They bear false witness, loudly professing to have seen some evil in the godly (v. 21).
The Lord, however, has seen the wickedness of these enemies, and cannot be indifferent to evil. Therefore the soul pleads that the Lord should intervene and judge the cause of the godly according to His righteousness, and not allow the wicked to triumph over one whose cause is righteous (vv. 22-26).
The Lord's intervention would result in the exaltation of the Lord and the prosperity of His servant, who would become a witness to the righteousness of the Lord, and a leader in His praise (vv. 27-28).
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Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 35". "Hamilton Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29