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Psalms 35:1 « [A Psalm] of David. » Plead [my cause], O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
Ver. 1. Plead my cause, O Lord ] We may safely pray the same, when oppressed with calumnies and false accusations, as now David was by Saul’s sycophants, or, as others think, when he was in great heaviness, and even heart sick; after that Amnon had defiled Tamar, and Absalom had slain Amnon; his disaffected subjects, such as Shimei, insulted over him, and said, it was just upon him for the matter of Uriah, and other miscarriages; which they wrongfully charged him with. See a promise in this case, Isaiah 49:21 .
Fight against them, &c. ] Or, devour them that devour me; for in Niphal only it signifieth to fight.
Psa 35:2 Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.
Ver. 2. Take hold of shield and buckler ] Jehovah is a man of war, Exodus 15:3 , and so he is here stirred up to harness himself; not that he needeth weapons defensive, as here, or offensive, as Psalms 35:3 , for he can destroy his enemies, solo nutu ac flatu, with a nod, or a blast; but this is spoken after the manner of men, and for our better apprehension of God’s readiness to relieve his distressed ones.
Psa 35:3 Draw out also the spear, and stop [the way] against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I [am] thy salvation.
Ver. 3. Draw out also the spear ] viz. That thy contending and appearing for me may appear to be sufficient and glorious.
And stop the way ] Heb. And stop, viz. the doors, as Genesis 19:6 ; Gen 19:10 2 Kings 6:32 , lest the malcontents come in and kill me. Or, shut me up from my persecutors, that they find me not; like as, afterwards, God hid Jeremiah and Baruch, when sought for to the slaughter.
Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation ] Facito ut haec animula te sibi testantem audiat, &c. Inwardly persuade my heart to firm affiance in thee, amidst all mine afflictions.
Psa 35:4 Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.
Ver. 4. Let them be confounded and put to shame ] Here David beginneth his imprecations; which yet non maledicens dixit sed vaticinantis more praedixit, saith Theodoret, he doth not utter as cursing, but as prophesying rather. If we shall at any time take upon us thus to imprecate (as we may in some cases), we must see to it, first, that our cause be good. Secondly, that we do it not out of private revenge; but merely for the glory of God. Thirdly, ut ne voculam quidem nisi nobis praeeunte Dei, non carnis, spiritu effundamus, that we utter not a syllable this way but by the guidance of God’s good Spirit.
Psa 35:5 Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase [them].
Ver. 5. Let them be as chaff ] Facti sint a corde suo fugitivi, let them fly before their own consciences, restless and uncertain whither to turn themselves.
And let the angel of the Lord chase them ] It may be understood both of the evil angels and of the good, ready at God’s command to do execution upon his enemies. Chaff driven before the wind may rest against a wall; but where shall they rest who are chased by an angel? "Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" 1 Peter 4:18 . Surely nowhere.
Psa 35:6 Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.
Ver. 6. Let their way be dark and slippery ] Heb. Darkness and slipperiness. If a man have neither light nor firm footing, and a fierce enemy at his heels, what shift can he make for himself? The word rendered slippery is of a double form (like that libbi secharchar, my heart panteth or beateth about, throbbeth, Psa 38:10 ), to increase the signfication. See Jeremiah 23:12 . The soul of a wicked man is in a sling, 1 Samuel 25:29 , violently tossed about.
Psa 35:7 For without cause have they hid for me their net [in] a pit, [which] without cause they have digged for my soul.
Ver. 7. For without cause have they hid for me, &c. ] The wicked are so acted and agitated by the devil, their task master, that, though they have no cause to work mischief to the saints, yet they must do it; the old enmity, Genesis 3:15 , still worketh; but this rendereth their destruction certiorem et celeriorem, more sure and more swift.
Psa 35:8 Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.
Ver. 8. Let destruction come upon him unawares ] i.e. Upon the whole rabble of them, as if they were all but one man. Or else he striketh at some chieftain among them. Let his destruction be as sudden as signal.
Psa 35:9 And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.
Ver. 9. And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord ] This was what he aimed at in his foregoing imprecations, viz. the glory and praise of God, and not his own wreaking his spleen upon his enemies.
Psa 35:10 All my bones shall say, LORD, who [is] like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?
Ver. 10. All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee? ] Not my soul only, but my body also shall join in this joyful acclamation; yea, my bones shall say, &c., that is, whatsoever strength and vigour is in me, it shall be spent in celebrating thy praises. Or, although I have nothing left me but skin and bones, so poor am I grown, yet I will not be wanting to the work.
Psa 35:11 False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge [things] that I knew not.
Ver. 11. False witnesses did rise up ] So they did afterward against the Lord Christ and sundry of his faithful servants, as St Paul, Athanasius, Eustathius, bishop of Antioch (falsely accused of adultery, and deposed, about the end of Constantine the Great’s reign), Cranmer, charged with adultery, heresy, and treason; Philpot, with parricide; Latimer, with sedition; whereof he was so innocent, that he feared not to say in a sermon before the king, As for sedition, for aught that I know, methinks I should not need Christ, if I may so say.
They laid to my charge things that I knew not ] Such as whereof I was not only innocent, but ignorant also. The Hebrew is, They asked me, and so would have, by cunningly contrived questions, made me mine own accuser.
Psa 35:12 They rewarded me evil for good [to] the spoiling of my soul.
Ver. 12. They rewarded me evil for good ] To render good for evil is divine, good for good is human, evil for evil is brutish; but evil for good is devilish.
To the spoiling of my soul ] i.e. To the depriving me of that life which I have so often hazarded to save theirs. Intentant caedem (Kimchi). Or, this their devilish dealing with me, erat mihi quasi mors amarum, was as bitter as death to me.
Psa 35:13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing [was] sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.
Ver. 13. But as for me, when they were sick ] i.e. Any way afflicted, when they ailed anything.
My clothing was sachcloth ] I put myself in mourners’ habit; Incedebam atratus, to testify my good affection toward them.
I humbled my soul with fasting ] In die designate, in a solemn day set apart for the purpose; as the נ with a patach showeth (Kimehi). Ieiunium est humilitas mentis, miserationis expensa, charitatis illecebra, allevamentum infirmitatis, alimentum salutis, saith Ambrose, Fasting is the affliction of the soul, the cost of compassion, &c.
And my prayer returned into mine own bosom ] i.e. Though they had no benefit by it, yet myself had; for no faithful prayer is ineffectual; like Jonathan’s bow, it never returned empty, 2 Samuel 1:22 . I received the fruit of my prayers for them upon my bosom.
Psa 35:14 I behaved myself as though [he had been] my friend [or] brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth [for his] mother.
Ver. 14. I behaved myself as though he had been, &c. ] My brother a thousand times. This was much to do to an enemy; but possibly all this might be before they fell out.
I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth, &c. ] The mother is usually most dearly beloved, and not without cause, as having been ante partum onerosa, in partu dolorosa, post partum laboriosa (Kimchi). Or, as a suckling crieth in the loss of his nurse.
Psa 35:15 But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: [yea], the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew [it] not; they did tear [me], and ceased not:
Ver. 15. But in mine adversity ] Heb. in my halting; when through weakness I could not but halt before my best friends, as we say. Morbus est sic dictus quia incedere nequit nisi cum doloro quasi claudicando (Aben-Ezra).
Yea, the abjects gathered themselves together ] Claudi congregati sunt, et secundum claudicationem meam claudicabant, ut me deriderent, so the Syriac senseth it. They halted, as I did, by way of derision; but they should have known, first, that mocking is catching, as we say. Cicero confesseth that while he laughed at one Hircus, a very ridiculous man, he became as bad almost himself: Dum illum rideo, pene factus sum ille (Epist. 9, lib. 2). Secondly, that such cruel mockings are grievous sins, and such as God will severely punish. Some render it the smiters, that is, the tongue smiters, as Jeremiah 18:18 . Others, the smitten, that is, the abjects, the vile persons: the basest can mock, as did Tobiah the servant, Nehemiah 2:19 , and those pests, Psalms 1:1 .
And I knew not ] Or, such as I knew not, took no notice of, they were so base. See the like, Job 30:8 .
They did tear me ] sc. With their tongues, as dogs toss and tear carrion with their teeth, Scindunt illud quod reparare nequeunt, non per pcenitentiam, saith Kimchi. They tear that which they cannot make good again, no, not by repentance, viz. my good name. Or, they rent, sc. their garments, as if they had been very sorry for me, as Gen 37:36 Job 2:12 . This they did, as Austin speaketh, simulatione miseriae, non compassione misericordiae, out of deep dissimulation.
Psa 35:16 With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.
Ver. 16. With hypocritical mockers in feasts ] Cum sannionibus placentae vel cibi, with hypocritical mockers for a cake or dainties. There is an elegance in the original, which showeth it to be proverbial, and cannot be translated R. Solomon telleth us here, that they who delighted in flatteries gave their flatterers cakes baked with honey, to make them the more to flatter them. Solomon telleth of some that will transgress for a piece of bread, Proverbs 28:21 . So those parasitic prophets, Ezekiel 13:19 . Or, I am made their table talk, as Hosea 7:8 , scornfully deriding me at their feasts and in their cups, Mensarii scurrae.
Psa 35:17 Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.
Ver. 17. Lord, how long wilt thou look on? ] i.e. Carry thyself as a spectator of my miseries and a tolerator of mine enemies, those architects of mine afflictions.
Rescue my soul from their destructions ] i.e. Their snares and ambushes, whereby they seek to destroy me.
My darling from the lions ] See Trapp on " Psa 22:20 "
Psa 35:18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.
Ver. 18. I will give thee thanks in the great congregation ] For example’s sake to others; for Magnates magnetos. Acts 18:8 , when Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed, many of the Corinthians believed also. Great men are the looking glasses of the country, according to which most men dress themselves; many eyes are upon them; they had need, therefore, to be exact, for they are sure to be exemplary.
Psa 35:19 Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: [neither] let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.
Ver. 19. Neither let them wink with the eye ] Which is the gesture of a malicious scoffer, Proverbs 6:13 ; Proverbs 10:10 . Ne amarulenter ludificentur me (Trem.).
Psa 35:20 For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against [them that are] quiet in the land.
Ver. 20. For they speak not peace ] Which yet God doth to his people, Psalms 85:9 , and that is their comfort. "I am for peace," saith David elsewhere, "but when I speak, they are for war," Psalms 120:7 .
Against the quiet of the land ] i.e. Against myself, and such as I am, who study to be quiet and to do our own business, 1 Thessalonians 4:11 , affecting rather quietness from the world than acquaintance with it.
Psa 35:21 Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, [and] said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen [it].
Ver. 21. They opened their mouth ] As if the very banks of blasphemy had been broken down.
Our eye hath seen ] Eye for eyes, unless we would say that all the wicked are so conjoined, that they may seem to have but one eye, heart, head, &c., and then they say, as Hannibal did, when he saw a ditch full of man’s blood, O formosum spectaculum! O gallant sight! O rem regiam! as Valesus said, when he had slain three hundred Protestants.
Psalms 35:22 [This] thou hast seen, O LORD: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me.
Ver. 22. This thou hast seen, O Lord ] This answereth to that before, Psalms 35:21 . Our eye hath seen it, as Aben Ezra observeth. So doth
Keep not silence ] To that they opened their mouth wide against me. Ibid.
Psa 35:23 Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, [even] unto my cause, my God and my Lord.
Ver. 23. Stir up thyself and awake ] This is the same in effect with the beginning of the psalm; to show his ardour and intention of affection.
Psa 35:24 Judge me, O LORD my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.
Ver. 24. According to thy righteousness ] i.e. For the honour of thy justice, wherein else thou art likely to suffer.
And let them not rejoice over me ] For I quarter arms, as I may so say, with thee, Lord; and my disgrace will reflect upon thee.
Psa 35:25 Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up.
Ver. 25. Ah, so would we have it ] Heb. Ah, ah, my soul; that is, our desire; we are voti compotes.
We have swallowed them up ] As swine do swill or ravenous beasts their prey.
Psa 35:26 Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify [themselves] against me.
Ver. 26. Let them be ashamed, &c. ] They shall so; and this prayer against the Church’s enemies shall still speak effectually.
Psa 35:27 Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.
Ver. 27. Let them shout for joy, &c. ] He concludeth with hearty prayer for the Church, as he doth in various other psalms.
That favour thy righteous cause ] Though perhaps they dare do no more than inwardly favour it and by their prayers to God promote it.
Let them say continually, &c. ] Let them have continual cause to praise God for this sweet property, that he delighteth in his people’s prosperity, and afflicts them not from his heart, nor grieveth the children of men, but for their greatest good, Lamentations 3:35 .
Psa 35:28 And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness [and] of thy praise all the day long.
Ver. 28. And my tongue, &c. ] I do solemnly promise that thy praises shall never die on my hand, &c.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 35". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24