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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator

Psalms 35

Verse 8

Psalms 35:8

Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.

Saved or unsaved

the earnest entreaty of a troubled soul. It was said of the great Sir Isaac Newton that he had a white soul, so pure was it. But this can be said of very few. They do not feel their need of salvation. When you become awakened it is a crisis of your life. You begin to ask concerning things whether they be right or wrong. Your conscience is tender and sensitive. And you must hear for yourself. “Say unto my soul”--so reads the text. But whose soul? Why, the soul of every man who desires salvation.

the boon desired. It is salvation. Our Lord Jesus is willing to save all men. More willing than the men in the lifeboat to save the people from the wreck. Sometimes the lifeboat dare not venture out to sea; but there is never a time when the Lord Jesus will refuse to save shipwrecked souls. I was much touched to hear a lifeboat man say, that at a certain wreck off the Orme’s Head, near Llandudno, when the lifeboat put off to save the passengers and sailors of the vessel in distress, it was impossible to take all of them into the boat, and many were left. The men would have gladly saved all, but their boat was not large enough. Now, our Lord can save all mankind. And He will save us from our faults as well as from our sins. And you need this, for faults will grow up into sins if not rooted out.

the certainty of God doing this. He says “I am thy salvation.” What God says, can and will be done. It is not “I may,” or “I could” do this; but I am thy salvation.” If God can make a world so beautiful as this, can He not purify our souls? If He can tint the flower and make it lovely, cannot He redeem us from all iniquity?

there is a personal assurance of salvation. “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” Hannah More once said that if we preach about a privilege and do not mention the person who should have the privilege, it is like putting a letter into the post-office without any direction upon it. If you want this salvation, it is ready; but for whom is it intended? For every creature, and it is particularly addressed to you. Jesus did not say, “Go into all the world and save nations,” but “Go into all the world and preach the good news to every creature.” So, this salvation is meant for you. Then, when you are saved, your example shall bless the world. But until you are saved, your example is worth very little. (W. Birch.)

Full assurance

Many enemies were round David, but he feels there is only one thing God needs to do to make him strong. Let but God say unto his soul, “I am thy salvation,” and he will defy them all.

objections to the doctrine of full assurance.

1. Some say it is better a man should stand in jeopardy, better for him to have doubts and fears.

2. Others say full assurance cannot be had. But it is possible, and has been enjoyed by many. If it were impossible, would we, as here, be told to pray for it? Romanists and formalists object; the former because it would do away with Purgatory, and the latter because they want no one to be better than themselves.

3. Others because some have pretended to it who have never been saved.

4. Or because they think the doctrine makes men careless. But confidence of success stimulates exertion, and realizing assurance overcomes all difficulties.

5. Others who trust in their good feelings would have us groan in the Lord always. Of all the Diabolians, Mr. Live-by-feeling was one of the worst.

the text itself. It seems to say--

1. That David had his doubts, or he would not have thus prayed.

2. But he was not content to remain in doubt.

3. And he knew where to obtain full assurance. Then take each word of the text and note its force. It is by His word, and by His ministers, and by His Holy Spirit, God says this to the soul.

hear the preacher. He would speak to those who neither know nor care to know that they are saved; beware of your condition, for it is full of peril. And what folly on your part, for you have soon to die. And though you may not now feel it, you are most miserable. But do you wish to be saved? Then Christ is for thee. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Heaven made sure, or the certainty of salvation

The words contain a petition for a benediction. The supplicant is a king, and his humble suit is to the King of kings: the king of Israel prays to the King of heaven and earth. He doth beg two things:--

1. That God would save him.

2. That God would certify him of it. So that the text may be distributed accordingly into salvation, and the assurance of it. The matter is assurance; the manner, how assured: “Say unto my soul.”

from the matter, or assurance, observe--

1. That salvation may be made sure to a man. David would never pray for that which could not be. Nor would St. Peter charge us with a duty which stood not in possibility to be performed (2 Peter 1:10). “Make your election sure.” Paul directly proves it (2 Corinthians 13:5), “Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” We may then know that Christ is in us.

2. That the best saints have desired to make their salvation sure. David that knew it, yet entreats to know it more (Psalms 41:11). “I know thou favourest me;” yet here still, “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” A man can never be too sure of his going to heaven. If we purchase an estate here, we make it as sure, and our tenure as strong, as the brawn of the law or the brains of the lawyer can devise. Now from this desire of David we draw matter--

(1) Of consolation. Even he desired better assurance. Sometimes a dear saint may want feeling of the spirit of comfort. But God doth sometimes hide from men this comfort--to extend their desires, to enlarge their joys when they shall again find the consolation they thought lost. To try whether we will serve God gratis, though we get nothing for it (Job 1:9). To make us more careful of this comfort when we have it.

(2) Of reprehension to others who are thinking all is well when it is not so.

(3) Of instruction, teaching us to keep the even way of comfort; eschewing both the rock of presumption on the right hand, and the gulf of desperation on the left. Let us neither be over-bold nor over-fainting, but endeavour by faith to assure ourselves of Jesus Christ, and by repentance to assure ourselves of faith, and by an amended life to assure ourselves of repentance. For they must here live to God’s glory that would hereafter live in God’s glory.

3. In the next place, observe the means how we may come by this assurance. This is discovered in the text, “Say unto my soul.”

4. Such assurance is the sweetest comfort that can come to a man in this life. There is no potion of misery so embittered with gall but this can sweeten it with a comfortable relish. When enemies assault us, get us under, triumph over us, imagining that salvation itself cannot save us, what is our comfort? “I know whom I have believed;” I am sure the Lord will not forsake me. What state can there be wherein the stay of this heavenly assurance gives us not peace and joy?

the manner. “Say unto my soul.” God bath spoken--

1. By His own voice (Genesis 3:8; Deuteronomy 4:15; John 12:28; 2 Peter 1:17).

2. By His works (Psalms 19:1).

3. By His Son (Hebrews 1:1).

4. By the Scriptures (Romans 15:4). Oh that we had hearts to bless God for His mercy, that the Scriptures are among us, and that not sealed up under an unknown tongue!

5. God speaks by His ministers, expounding and opening to us those Scriptures. These are dispensers of the mysteries of heaven. This voice is continually sounding in our churches, beating upon our ears; I would it could pierce our consciences, and that our lives would echo to it in an answerable obedience. How great should be our thankfulness! Let us not say of this blessing, as Lot of Zoar, “Is it not a little one?” nor be weary of manna with Israel, lest God’s voice grow dumb unto us, and, to our woe, we hear it speak no more. No, rather let our hearts answer with Samuel (1 Samuel 3:10), “Speak, Lord, for thy servants hear.” If we will not hear Him say to our souls, “I am your salvation,” we shall hear Him say, “Depart from Me, I know you not.”

6. God speaks by His Spirit: this “Spirit beareth witness with our spirit,” etc. Perhaps this is that “voice behind us” (Isaiah 30:21), as it were, whispering to our thoughts, “This is the way, walk in it.” It is the Church’s prayer (Song of Solomon 1:2). The Holy Ghost is the kiss of God the Father. Whom God kisseth, He loveth. Now by all these ways doth God speak peace to our consciences, and say to our souls that He is our salvation: “I am thy salvation.”--The petition is ended. I will but look into the benediction, wherein I should consider these four circumstances: Who, What, To whom, When. Who?--The Lord. He alone can (Hosea 13:9). What?--Salvation. A special good thing: every man’s desire, though he be running hellward. Man would be blessed, though he takes the course to be cursed. I will give thee a lordship, saith God to Esau. I will give thee a kingdom, said God to Saul. I will give thee an apostleship, saith God to Judas. But, I will be thy salvation, He says to David, and to none but saints. To Whom?--My soul. Not others’ only, but mine. When?--In time present. “I am.” To conclude: it is salvation our prophet desires. Not riches. He that prefers riches before his soul doth but sell the horse to buy the saddle, or kill a good horse to catch a hare. He begs not honour: many have leapt from the high throne to the low pit. The greatest commander on earth hath not a foot of ground in heaven, except he can get it by entitling himself to Christ. He desires not pleasures; he knows there are as great miseries beyond prosperity as on this side it. And that all vanity is but the indulgence of the present time; a minute begins, continues, ends it: for it endures but the acting, and leaves no solace in the memory. In the fairest garden of delights there is somewhat that stings in the midst of all vain contents. The Christian seeks “that better part which shall never be taken from him.” (T. Adams.)

Soul salvation

Our text brings to our view the soul of man, and, whilst preaching therefrom, I also will try to show some of the causes of the apparent failure of Christianity. It is not Christianity which is at fault, but Christians who are not Christlike.

why is it that men do so neglect religion?

1. A large portion of the community is deceived by riches. They think all their happiness lies in what riches can give. Hence they toil early and late; they think about nothing else. But when they get rich they are never satisfied. I do not ask for an equal distribution of wealth, but I call upon the rich to be trustees for the world, and to say, “Lord, all that I have is Thine; how shall I use it for Thy glory, and for the good of my fellow-men?” Another cause of the apparent failure of Christianity is--

2. The errors of many teachers and ministers.

3. A third cause is the unreasonableness of scepticism. Christianity has blessed the lives of all who believed in it. It has made the drunkard sober, the thief honest, and has delivered men from the power of darkness into God’s marvellous light. The path of Christ’s truth will Carry the world to peace and happiness, if they will but walk therein.

4. The last cause which I shall mention is that people hold false notions about God. Many men think if they pay a large sum to a church, or to some good cause, God will smile upon them. And the unfortunate one who, time after time, relapses into sin believes God cannot forgive one who falls so often. “He may forgive and bless those who live righteously, but can He bless me?” He can: He is waiting to bless thee.

We have now to notice as earnest desire. David, remembering the past, and fearing for the future, earnestly desires soul salvation. “Oh God! say unto my soul, ‘I am thy salvation.’”

1. He desires salvation from the burden of sin. Even as a man working in a coal-pit, upon whom the earth has fallen, earnestly cries for help, so the Christian is in agony to be saved from the burden with which his sins have fallen upon his memory and his conscience.

2. We also have here an earnest desire for salvation from the power of sin. In the sad days of American slavery, I have read of a maiden being bought by a very wicked man for purposes of sin and shame, and she, weeping, as she was dragged along the road to his estate, shrieked piteously for a deliverer. Poor thing! the law gave the monster the power over her. But how different when we in the bondage of sin, cry out to God for help. Christ comes and delivers his people from the power of sin.

the delightful expectation of the text. It is to have God’s voice to be heard in the soul. “Say unto my soul, ‘I am thy salvation.’” There may be some here who cannot find peace and holiness, and who now cry for salvation. Losing your way whilst wandering in an underground cavern and your light burning out, it is delightful to hear the guide in the distance cry, “All right, my friend, I know where you are, and will lead you safely out.” Likewise the promise is, “The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly return to His temple.” Pray on, hope on, believe on. You shall hear His voice, for He hath promised. (W. Birch.)

Verses 9-10

Psalms 35:9-10

My soul shall he joyful in the Lord.

Life’s joy

It is not often that we meet with a truly joyous face. We see many a brow curved with humour, and lips with their wreath of mirth, but the eyes seldom beam the glory of that quiet delight which is named in our text. Everybody has some joy; but in many cases it is spurious like a bad shilling, and unreliable like the grass which grows over the marsh on a moor. But real joy is wholesome, beneficent and abiding; and it is for all. It is seldom or never found in external things; it is an inward state of the soul. Joy may be likened to a seat under the shade of a tree to which you can go at once for rest, and it is as free as a street fountain with the cup hanging ready for the thirsty traveller to drink; anybody may take the cup and drink. True joy is not a fiction; to be expressed, it must be felt. As you cannot have a river without a spring or source, neither can you have true joy without its fountain which flows from the heart of God.

the secret cause of joy in the Christian is--

1. That he possesses all things. The great cry of the human heart is--“I want this; O that I could have that!” Our failing is discontentedness; the glory of Christianity is contentment, not empty and fleeting, but full, overflowing, and everlasting. Under the Atlantic ocean is a cable through which passes a wire connecting the coast of England with that of America, and though there are great storms and crashing icebergs on the ocean, the cable under the sea is undisturbed; the lightning message passes along the three thousand miles of wire silently and in the twinkling of an eye. Likewise, the soul of the Christian, no matter whether he may be in a dungeon, awaiting a martyr’s death, or upon a throne, the object of the people’s praise, is serene because it is in communion with God.

2. That our sins are all forgiven.

3. The sense of salvation also inspires one’s soul to be joyful in the Lord.

4. The promise of heaven. Some of you may say, “What you have said is of no use to me, for I am not a Christian; I am not good; there is no chance for me.” You think God must draw the line somewhere, that He cannot take you in; that He may receive other people, but He cannot admit you. Now the Bible says, “Whosoever will.” You cannot be too wicked for God to save; for He is able to save to the very uttermost all that pray unto Him. Therefore, come. (W. Birch:)

Verse 13

Psalms 35:13

I humbled my soul with fasting.

The duty of fasting

So said David. All God’s faithful children, under every dispensation, have observed the same rule. So must each one now say, who hopes for the highest degree of blessedness hereafter. “Can none, then, be saved without fasting?” I have heard people sometimes ask. This question might be answered by another: “Can any be saved without praying?” The same authority has commanded the observance of both. But fasting is an unpleasant duty; and those who wish to escape from it, while they readily grant that it was practised by the Jews, deny that it is binding upon Christians. Did not our Lord fast forty days and forty nights, thus setting us an example of subduing the flesh to the Spirit, that in this way His “godly monitions” may be more perfectly obeyed? Do not the apostles tell us that they were “in fastings often”? Do they not enjoin it upon Christians to “give themselves to fasting and prayer”? “This may all be true,” answers an objector, “but why not leave it to each one to discharge this duty when he feels disposed, and why celebrate the fast of Lent, which sprung Up, perhaps, during the dark ages of the world?” In reply to the first question, I would merely say that if we wait until we feel in a humour to fast, we shall never fast at all. Hence the wisdom of the Church in appointing stated seasons (or it, when we are bound to attend to it, or prove ourselves unworthy and disobedient children. Our Saviour said to His disciples (Matthew 9:15). And from the earliest ages of the Church directions concerning this observance are found. But while it is expected of all to keep the fasts of the Church, all cannot observe them alike. The sick, or such as are just recovering their health, may not be able, perhaps, to abstain from food; and they who are obliged to toil hard for their daily bread, require more to sustain their strength than those whose lives are less active. But all should deny themselves in some way. (John H. Norton.)

My prayer returned into mine own bosom.--

The benefits of prayer

The ancient garments were loose and flowing, and fell in a hollow fold upon the bosom; into which fold were often put articles of use, or value, for the convenience of carriage; and especially when presents were made, they were frequently deposited there. By his prayer returning into his own bosom, therefore, David meant, that though it failed to bring the desired benefit to those for whom it was delivered, it should turn to his own recompense and advantage. Such is the case, more or less, with all the acts of kindness rendered to our neighbour; they conduce not only to his benefit but our own. Ye who take delight in the well-being of others, and make it a business in your life to minister thereto, know well the value of this grace to your own hearts; it is a perpetual source of consolation and satisfaction. And even if you fail in pleasing those whom you seek to please, or in benefiting those whom you seek to benefit; still the good to yourself is not lost; there is joy in the endeavour, independent of the result. The pious act to which the text alludes was the fruit of love, of the most disinterested and holy affection. David was surrounded with bitter and violent enemies, who daily sought his life; and the manner in which he expresses himself respecting them reminds us strongly of David’s Lord. He lifted up his heart in supplication to the mercy-seat; he did all that in him lay. But his prayer was not granted, as neither was the prayer of Jesus for the reckless Jew. From this remarkable instance before us, I am led to speak of the value of intercessory prayer, of prayer for our brethren, and for all our fellow-creatures. God has ordained it (1 Timothy 2:1). We know not what may be dependent upon our prayers. What good they may bring to them for whom we pray. And assuredly they bring much good to us.

The prayer for superiors of every kind begets in us that spirit of obedience, which God has commanded, and which God will bless.

Children pray for parents. Who can tell the benefits which they themselves derive from this duty? On the other hand, the parent prays for the child. The child is wayward and wanton: the parent prays for correction and amendment; but they do not always come. But the supplication is not without its fruit, in blessed peace of mind from knowing that he has done his best: that his child was not ruined by his neglect to pray for him. And so--

for all relatives. The principle of mutual love is kept alive thereby.

But perhaps the most observable instance of all is that wherewith the text is connected, the supplication for enemies. This is a peculiar exercise of faith: this requires a greater struggle in the inner man, to obtain the mastery over our own self-love; and to make us desire with godly sincerity the good of those who have injured us, and to entreat the Lord for it, as for our own favour and blessing. This is indeed a victory of the Spirit of grace; and the Lord honours it with a signal reward, and makes it productive of vast benefit to our souls. Such was the Lord’s own example. Let us also herein follow our Lord. (J. Slade, M. A.)

The remunerative power of charity

The psalmist is speaking of the ungrateful returns which he received from his enemies for many acts of kindness. When they were in trouble and sickness, he did not fail to intercede with God on their behalf: he prayed for them, and put on sackcloth, and fasted; “whereas,” he goes on to say, “in mine adversity they rejoiced,” etc. Were, then, his prayers all thrown away? Not so; he was persuaded that they would return into his own bosom; that the prayers, that is, which should be fruitless in regard to those for whom they were presented, should certainly produce good to him by whom they had been offered. Now, we do not think that sufficient attention is paid to the various modes in which what is done for others, returns, as it were, to the doer, gust as though God regarded it as a loan, and would not permit it to remain long in his hands--for we hardly know the philanthropic deed in regard of which we may not prove the high probability, if not the certainty, that he who performs it gains an abundant requital, even if you suppose him not moved by the purest motive, or not bringing into account the recompenses of eternity. The interests of the several classes in a community, nay, of the various members of the vast human family, are so bound up one with the other, that it is scarcely possible for an individual benefit to fail to be a general; and if the good which is wrought in an isolated quarter cannot remain there, but must propagate itself over wide districts, we may easily believe that God, who orders and appoints all things so that they work His own ends, causes much of this reflected good to fall on the party with whom it originated; and thus he who fasted and humbled himself in sackcloth finds that his prayer hath returned into his own bosom. If I support infirmaries for children, I take the best means of preventing our being hereafter burdened with sickly and dependent families; disease is corrected, and the injuries are repaired in childhood which entail on us, if neglected, a crowd of miserable objects; and what I give to the pining infant I more than receive back from the vigorous man. If I support hospitals for the reception of those who must otherwise perish unregarded, what do I but take measures to continue to his family the industrious father, on whom it hangs for subsistence, and whose death would make it a pensioner on benevolence? Then surely what I give will, in all probability, “return into mine own bosom,” if it prove instrumental in preserving a useful “member to the community, and prevent fresh demands upon charity. Neither does this take into account what ought not to be omitted--that there is a direct tendency in hospitals and infirmaries to the nourishing in the poor kindly feelings towards the rich; and he can know little of the mutual dependence of the several ranks in society, who does not know that money employed on the procuring this result is money at interest, and not money sunk. But let us now consider more particularly the ease in which the motive to benevolence is such as God approves--man acting from a principle of love to the Saviour, who has declared that He counts as done to Himself what is done for His sake to the least of His brethren. We believe that even in the present life the remunerating power will have a greater sphere of exercise in this case than in any other. It is to be observed, that though a Christian will be ready, with St. Paul, to “do good unto all men,” he will study with the same apostle to do good, “especially to those that are of the household of faith;” and if his charities bring him mostly into association with those who are serving the same Lord, and if, though he neglect not the temporal, he is chiefly instrumental in supplying the spiritual wants of the destitute, it is very evident that there will be that returned to him in the prayers and blessings of those whom he succours, which there would not be if the objects of his benevolence were all at enmity with God. But if we may contend that what we have called the remunerating power of charity is already in operation, who can doubt that hereafter, when we reach the time and scene, which are specially appointed for the Divine retributions, it will be proved to the letter that our gifts and our deeds have returned into our own bosoms. When we read that even a cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple shell not lose its reward, we are taught that God takes account of the minutest acts of Christian benevolence, and designs them a recompense, so that as not even the least can escape His observation, not even the least shall be without retribution. He annexes rewards to our actions to show His graciousness, and to animate to obedience; and, with this as the base, He may justly be expected to leave no service unrequited, and yet at the same time to requite in proportion to the action. But with all the reasons there may be for expecting the most exact retributions, who can doubt that the righteous will hereafter be amazed and overcome, as the strict connection is shown them between what they did and what they enjoy? (H. Melvill, B. D.)

Verse 14

Psalms 35:14

I bowed down heavily as one that mourneth for his mother.

The duty of surviving children to the memory of pious and departed mothers

some general observations on the text.

1. It displays a beautiful combination of apparently opposite virtues in the same character. Undaunted courage and yet loving tenderness.

2. A gradation in the claims of relative attachment. The mother has stronger claims than any friend, though he be one “who sticketh closer than a brother.”

3. The loss of an excellent and pious mother is a most afflictive calamity, especially at some periods of her children’s life--as infancy and youth.

the regard which a bereaved family should show to the memory of a good mother.

1. Retrace with gratitude her loving care.

2. Recall to remembrance the efforts she made to promote your best welfare.

3. Imitate her.

4. Cultivate all those principles, and that character, which were in her, and which shall prepare you to meet her in heaven. (John Clayton, A. M.)

The death of a mother

what is there in the death of a mother that excites peculiar sorrow?

1. The want of the expressions of a mother’s affection makes the heart bow down heavily for her loss.

2. The loss of a mother’s care, and of its ministrations, excites this regret.

3. The loss of a mother’s sympathy and its soothing expressions excites this sorrow.

4. The heart mourns for the loss of the counsels of a mother’s wisdom.

5. The affectionate heart mourns for the loss of the lessons of a mother’s piety.

where consolation is to be sought and obtained under such a calamity.

1. There is consolation in the thought that it comes to you by the appointment of God.

2. There is consolation in the thought that all the benefits which you derived from so dear a relative, are to be found in God. In Him every blessing which the creature can yield us is to be found in richer abundance, and in a nobler form.

3. Consolation will be obtained by you in the fulfilment of their wishes and purposes.

4. Consolation will be found in the imitation of their virtues.

5. There is comfort in the belief that a departed mother is happy, and in the hope of a reunion. (H. Belfrage.)

On the death of a mother

The death of a true mother is a great event in the life of any one. It can occur but once in a lifetime. When it takes place in childhood, it is a sore calamity. A father can never supply a mother’s place; seldom can any one else but very imperfectly.

A mother’s death reminds us most strongly of the peculiar blessings conferred by God through the maternal relation. A mother’s influence is the first felt: it acts at the very fountain-head of life, it is gentle, tender, winning. Her smile greets the first dawn of intelligence: her voice is the first guide and encouragement to infant speech; her hand invites and sustains the first infant steps. From the pious mother’s lips her children first learn the name of Jesus, and the words of prayer; from her example and instruction they receive the elements of virtue.

the death of a mother occasions bitter recollections of filial disobedience and neglect.

the death of a mother breaks up the home of our early days, and makes us feel that we are only sojourners here.

the death of a mother, especially of an aged mother, is adapted to make us sensible of our nearness to another world. Conclusion.

1. I appeal to fathers. Remember what you owe your mothers, and teach your children, especially your sons, the deepest reverence for their mothers.

2. I appeal to mothers. Cherish a deep and constant sense of your own importance to your children, especially to your sons.

3. I appeal to those who have mothers living, especially to sons in early life. I entreat you, each of you, as you value your well-being for time and eternity, study well the will of God concerning your duty to your mothers, and strive to fulfil it. (J. M. Johnson.)

Verse 17

Psalms 35:17

Lord, how long wilt Thou look on?

How long

This was David’s cry in his distress.

A trying experience. David did not doubt that the Lord saw his trouble. He did not say, “My way is hid from the Lord;” but he felt as if the Lord was only looking on and not delivering him. As a soldier hard pressed by the foe might look for the expected relief; but it did not come, David wanted to hear the shout, “To the rescue,” but he could not hear it. And he feels sure that it must be all over with him in a few moments. Now--

1. This is often the experience of the saint in his struggle with sin.

2. In relation to his troubles.

3. To his prayers. How long they seem to be unanswered.

4. It is often the minister’s experience. He longs to see conversions, but does not see them.

the cry of anguish. Now this cry may be right or wrong: it depends on its spirit. It is wrong when it is--

1. Bitter; when the soul has become soured instead of sanctified by affliction.

2. When it is deeply despondent. But it is a right cry when it is--

3. The language of intense desire. Now--

comforting answers to this cry. How long, Lord? He replys--

1. “Long enough to try your faith.” He loves to strengthen the faith of His people. Hence He often tries them by delaying the answers to their prayer.

2. “Long enough to teach you your own weakness.”

3. To make you value the deliverance. That which is easily obtained is little valued. “Lord, how long wilt Thou look on?”

4. “Until the right moment.” Not a moment too soon for His own glory: not a moment too late for your good.

Our clock is always too fast; we call upon the Lord and say, “Lord, now is the time, the hour to deliver has struck;” but no answer comes, because He keeps not His time by ours; and His clock still wants some minutes to the hour; but when that has struck, swift as the lightning flash He is at our side. Trust Him, then, believe. Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come. (A. G. Brown.)

Verse 20

Psalms 35:20

They devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.

Sin approaching the unsuspecting

“There is no temptation,” said John of Wesel, one of the greatest of the pre-Lutheran reformers, “so great as not to be tempted at all.” We have a vivid illustration of this in a picture given us by a late writer on natural history. When the wild horses of Mexico, he tells us, are grazing unconsciously in a prairie, there may sometimes be seen gathering in the distance a troop of wolves, whom hunger has driven out after food. At first the horses snuff up the scent and become alarmed, and as long as they continue so all is safe; for their fleetness puts a barrier between themselves and their assailants, which the latter are wholly unable to surmount. But so grave and innocent do the wolves look--so solely graminivorous and gentle--that their intended victims soon become relieved from all fear, and begin again quietly to graze upon the same spot. Presently, two of the older and more wary of the wolves stroll forth, as it were listlessly, and apparently for the mere purpose of pastime, sometimes advancing, sometimes retreating, and every now and then stopping to gambol with each other, as if to show their disengaged simplicity and buoyancy of heart. Again the horses become alarmed; but again, observing how very innocent and friendly their visitors appear, they fall once more to grazing secure on the fields. But the fatal moment has now come; and with an unerring spring, the nearest of the victims finds the fangs of one of his gaunt and wily pursuers fastened in his haunches, and those of another in his neck, and in a moment he is covered by the whole of the greedy pack that has been thus waiting till this moment to dash upon his prostrate frame. So it is that sin presents itself to the incautious soul. First it lounges listlessly in the distance, as if to show its harmlessness and disengagedness of purpose. Then, when suspicion is disarmed, it comes nearer still, gambolling about as if it was mere pastime. It is not till the soul feels its fangs that it discovers that it is now the victim and slave of a master whose bitter and cruel yoke must be borne, not only through time, but through eternity. (The Preacher’s Lantern.)

Verses 27-28

Psalms 35:27-28

Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause.

Sympathy with the godly

1. It is one mark of godliness amongst many others, to befriend the cause of Christ, and to further it in the person of His saints suffering for righteousness, with their best affection, for here they are described by being “the favourers of their righteous cause.”

2. In the persecution of the godly for the cause of God’s truth and true religion, all the godly are concerned; and as they partake of the sufferings with others under Christ the Head, so shall they partake of the joy of the victory, and outgate which shall be exceeding joyful at last.

3. The troubles of the godly are not so many, but room is left for sometimes prosperity, “for God loveth the prosperity of His servants,” to wit, as it may conduce to His purpose and their good.

4. When any of the godly are delivered from their persecutors, all the rest of the godly are bound as they understand of it, to set forth the power of God, and His love and bounty manifested and forthcoming to His people.

6. Whatsoever opposition the enemies of Christ and of the godly shall make, Christ shall keep up the open profession of true Doctrine, which manifesteth the righteousness of God; leading men to eternal life, and bringing glory to God; for this is the undertaking of the type and of Christ represented by him, after the hottest contest between him and the wicked enemies. (D. Dickson.)

Let the Lord be magnified.--

Magnifying God

here is God’s feeling towards man’s welfare. He has pleasure in his prosperity. This proves to us--

1. God’s interest in our existence.

2. God’s goodwill towards our state.

3. God’s evident willingness to help.

here is man’s true well-being--“Prosperity.” The true prosperity of a soul is its spiritual vitality, and this manifests itself--

1. By an ever-growing love towards religious exercises.

2. By a deepening apprehension of Divine realities. That which was dark becomes light; that which was obscure stands out in living reality.

3. By an increasing delight in Christian work. A prosperous soul is active in the performance of acts of charity and kindness.

4. By an increasing development of a Christlike character. The prosperous Christian grows, and becomes daily more like Christ in thought, word, and action.

5. By a constant accession of peace, contentment, and joy.

here is man’s manifest duty--“Let the Lord be magnified.” It is a blessed privilege to have a God who is well disposed to His people. The imaginary gods of the heathen were always ill-disposed. They were gods of cruelty, malevolence, and evil, who needed to be propitiated by many a cruel rite. What a glorious idea we have of God! One who has pleasure in the prosperity of His people. He delights to see them happy and growing in grace, and all good gifts. He will not that any should be lost. Surely, then, we ought to magnify Him--in our words and songs of praise; in our lives and example; in our characters and sacrifice. We should give our whole time and energy and strength to His work. (Homilist.)


Psalms 36:1-12

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 35". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.