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Adam Clarke Commentary

Psalms 35


The psalmist, in great straits, prays for his personal safety, Psalms 35:1 -3; and for the confusion of his enemies, Psalms 35:4 -8; expresses has confidence in God, Psalms 35:9 , Psalms 35:10 ; mentions his kindness to those who had rewarded him evil for his good, Psalms 35:11 -16; appeals to God against them, Psalms 35:17 -26; prays for those who befriended him; and praises God for his goodness, Psalms 35:27 , Psalms 35:28 .There is nothing in the title worthy of remark. The Psalm is simply attributed to David, and was most probably of his composing; and refers to the time of his persecution by Saui and his courtiers. The Syriac says it was composed when the Idumeans attacked David. The Arabic says it is a prophecy concerning the incarnation, and concerning the things practiced against Jeremiah by the people. Some think that our Lord's sufferings are particularly pointed out here; and Bishop Horsley thinks that Psalms 35:11 -16 apply more literally and exactly to Christ than to any other whomsoever.

Verse 1

Plead my cause, O Lord - Literally, Contend, Lord, with then that contend with me. The word is often used in a forensic or law sense.

Verse 2

Take hold of shield and buckler - Let them be discomfited in battle who are striving to destroy my life. It is by the shield and buckler of others, not any of his own that God overthrows the enemies of his people. This is spoken merely after the manner of men.

Verse 3

Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation - Give me an assurance that thou wilt defend both body and soul against my adversaries.

Verse 4

Let then be confounded - Let none of their projects or devices against me succeed. Blast all their designs.The imprecations in these verses against enemies are all legitimate. They are not against the souls or eternal welfare of those sinners, but against their schemes and plans for destroying the life of an innocent man; and the holiest Christian may offer up such prayers against his adversaries. If a man aim a blow at another with a design to take away his life, and the blow would infallibly be mortal if it took place, and the person about to be slain see that by breaking the arm of his adversary he may prevent his own death, and thus save his enemy from actual murder; it is his duty to prevent this double evil by breaking the arm of the blood-thirsty man. It is on this principle that David prays against his adversaries in the first eight verses of this Psalm.

Verse 5

Let the angel of the Lord chase them - By angel we may either understand one of those spirits, whether good or bad, commonly thus denominated, or any thing used by God himself as the instrument of their confusion.

Verse 6

Let their way be dark - Let them lose their way, be entangled in morasses and thickets, and be confounded in all their attempts to injure me. All these phrases are military; and relate to ambushes, hidden snares, forced marches in order to surprise, and stratagems of different kinds.

Verse 7

For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit - The word שחת shachath, a pit, belongs to the second member of this verse, and the whole should be read thus: For without a cause they have hidden for me their net, without a cause they have digged a pit for my life. They have used every degree and species of cunning and deceit to ruin me.

Verse 8

Let his net that he hath hid - See the notes on Psalms 7:15 , Psalms 7:16 .

Verse 9

My soul - My life, thus saved: - Shall be joyful in the Lord - I am so circumstanced at present as to be in the utmost danger of being destroyed by my foes; if I escape, it must be by the strong arm of the Lord; and to him shall the glory be given.

Verse 10

All my bones shall say - My life being preserved, all the members of my body shall magnify thy saving mercy.Deliverest the poor - This is a general maxim: God is peculiarly mindful of the poor. Where secular advantages are withheld, there is the more need for spiritual help. God considers this, and his kind providence works accordingly.

Verse 11

False witnesses did rise up - There is no doubt that several of this kind were found to depose against the life of David; and we know that the wicked Jews employed such against the life of Christ. See Matthew 26:59 , Matthew 26:60 .They laid to my charge things that I knew not - They produced the most unfounded charges; things of which I had never before heard.

Verse 12

To the spoiling of my soul - To destroy my life; so נפש nephesh should be translated in a multitude of places, where our translators have used the word soul.

Verse 13

When they were sick - This might refer to the case of Absalom, who was much beloved of his father, and for whose life and prosperity he no doubt often prayed, wept, and fasted.My prayer returned into mine own bosom - Though from the wayward and profligate life they led, they did not profit by my prayers, yet God did not permit me to pray in vain. They were like alms given to the miserable for God's sake, who takes care to return to the merciful man tenfold into his bosom. The bosom is not only the place where the Asiatics carry their purses, but also where they carry any thing that is given to them.

Verse 14

Mourneth for his mother - כאבל אם caabel em, as a mourning mother. How expressive is this word!

Verse 15

But in mine adversity they reioiced - How David was mocked and insulted in the case of Absalom's rebellion by Shimei and others, is well known.The abjects - נכים nechim, the smiters, probably hired assassins. They were everywhere lying in wait, to take away my life.

Verse 16

With hypocritical mockers in feasts - These verses seem to be prophetic of the treatment of Christ. They did tear me, and I knew it not. They blindfolded and buffeted him; they placed him in such circumstances as not to be able to discern who insulted him, except by a supernatural knowledge. With hypocritical mockers in feasts may also relate prophetically to our Lord's sufferings. Herod clothed him in a purple robe, put a reed in his hand for a scepter, bowed the knee before him, and set him at naught. Here their hypocritical conduct (pretending one thing while they meant another) was manifest, and possibly; this occurred at one of Herod's feasts.

Verse 17

My darling - יחידתי yechidathi, my only one, Psalms 22:20 . My united one, or He that is alone. Perhaps this may relate to Christ. See the note on Psalms 22:20 .

Verse 18

I will give thee thanks in the great congregation - I hope to be able to attend at the tabernacle with thy followers, and there publicly express my gratitude for the deliverance thou hast given me.

Verse 19

That are mine enemies - Saul and his courtiers.

Verse 21

They opened their mouth wide - Gaped upon me to express their contempt.And said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it - They said, האח האח heach, heach, the last syllable in each word being a protracted strongly guttural sound, marking insult and triumph at the same time. It is the word which we translate Ah, Psalms 35:25 .

Verse 22

This thou hast seen - I have no need to adduce evidences of these wrongs; thou, to whom I appeal, hast seen them. Therefore,

Verse 23

Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment - I have delivered my cause into thy hand, and appeal to thee as my Judge; and by thy decision I am most willing to abide.

Verse 24

Judge me, O Lord my God - The manner of his appeal shows the strong confidence he had in his own innocence.

Verse 25

Swallowed him up - בלענוהו billaanuhu, we have gulped him down.

Verse 26

Let them be ashamed - This may be a prophetic declaration against Saul and his courtiers. They were ashamed, confounded, clothed with shame, and dishonored. All these took place in Saul's last battle with the Philistines, where he lost his crown and his life, and came to a most dishonorable end.

Verse 27

Let them shout for joy and be glad - While my enemies are confounded, let my friends exult in the Lord; and let them all praise him for his marvellous kindness to me.

Verse 28

And my tongue shall speak - I, who am chiefly concerned, and who have received most, am under the greatest obligation; and it will require the constant gratitude and obedience of my whole life to discharge the mighty debt I owe.

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.
  2 Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.
  3 Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
  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.
  5 Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them.
  6 Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.
  7 For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.
  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.
  9 And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.
  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?
  11 False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.
  12 They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.
  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.
  14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.
  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:
  16 With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.
  17 Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.
  18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.
  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.
  20 For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.
  21 Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.
  22 This thou hast seen, O LORD: keep not silence: O LORD, be not far from me.
  23 Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.
  24 Judge me, O LORD my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.
  25 Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up.
  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.
  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.
  28 And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.

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