Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
<<A Psalm of David.>> Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
Ps 35:1-28. The Psalmist invokes God's aid, contrasting the hypocrisy, cunning, and malice of his enemies with his integrity and generosity. The imprecations of the first part including a brief notice of their conduct, the fuller exposition of their hypocrisy and malice in the second, and the earnest prayer for deliverance from their scornful triumph in the last, are each closed (Ps 35:9, 10, 18, 27, 28) with promises of praise for the desired relief, in which his friends will unite. The historical occasion is probably 1Sa 24:1-22.
1-3. God is invoked in the character of a warrior (Ex 15:3; De 32:41).
Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.
Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
3. fight against—literally, "devour my devourers."
stop the way against—literally, "shut up" (the way), to meet or oppose, &c.
I … thy salvation—who saves thee.
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.
4. (Compare Ps 9:17).
devise my hurt—purpose for evil to me.
Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them.
5, 6. (Compare Ps 1:4)—a terrible fate; driven by wind on a slippery path in darkness, and hotly pursued by supernatural violence (2Sa 24:16; Ac 12:23).
Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.
For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.
7, 8. net in a pit—or, "pit of their net"—or, "net-pit," as "holy hill" for "hill of holiness" (Ps 2:6); a figure from hunting (Ps 7:15). Their imprecations on impenitent rebels against God need no vindication; His justice and wrath are for such; His mercy for penitents. Compare Ps 7:16; 11:5, on the peculiar fate of the wicked here noticed.
Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.
And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.
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?
10. All my bones—every part.
him that spoileth him—(Compare Ps 10:2).
False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.
11. False witnesses—literally, "Witnesses of injustice and cruelty" (compare Ps 11:5; 25:19).
They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.
12-14. Though they rendered evil for good, he showed a tender sympathy in their affliction.
spoiling—literally, "bereavement." The usual modes of showing grief are made, as figures, to express his sorrow.
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.
13. prayer … bosom—may denote either the posture—the head bowed—(compare 1Ki 18:42)—or, that the prayer was in secret. Some think there is a reference to the result—the prayer would benefit him if not them.
I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.
14. behaved—literally, "went on"—denoting his habit.
heavily—or, "squalidly," his sorrowing occasioning neglect of his person. Altogether, his grief was that of one for a dearly loved relative.
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:
15, 16. On the contrary, they rejoiced in his affliction. Halting, or, "lameness," as in Ps 38:17 for any distress.
abjects—either as cripples (compare 2Sa 4:4), contemptible; or, degraded persons, such as had been beaten (compare Job 30:1-8).
I knew it not—either the persons, or, reasons of such conduct.
tear me, and ceased not—literally, "were not silent"—showing that the tearing meant slandering.
With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.
16. mockers—who were hired to make sport at feasts (Pr 28:21).
Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.
17. darling—(Compare Ps 22:20, 21).
I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.
18. (Compare Ps 22:22).
Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.
19. enemies wrongfully—by false and slanderous imputations.
wink with the eye—an insulting gesture (Pr 6:13).
without a cause—manifests more malice than having a wrong cause.
For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.
20. deceitful matters—or, "words of deceit."
quiet in the land—the pious lovers of peace.
Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.
21. On the gesture compare Ps 22:7; and on the expressions of malicious triumph, compare Ps 10:13; 28:3.
This thou hast seen, O LORD: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me.
Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.
23, 24. (Compare Ps 7:6; 26:1; 2Th 1:6). God's righteous government is the hope of the pious and terror of the wicked.
Judge me, O LORD my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.
Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up.
25. swallowed him up—utterly destroyed him (Ps 21:9; La 2:16).
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.
26. clothed—covered wholly (Job 8:22).
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.
27. favour … cause—delight in it, as vindicated by Thee.
Let the Lord, &c.—Let Him be greatly praised for His care of the just.
And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.
28. In this praise of God's equitable government (Ps 5:8) the writer promises ever to engage.