Psalm 35

This blog has been very helpful for me in a surprising way. If you have been following our prayer requests while here in Lebanon, you know that we have struggled with giving ourselves grace. We want to be good at everything, have a place in ministry, and be helpful now. Not knowing enough Arabic to share at the center, or understand sermons or meetings, is hard. Too easily we start adding to our TO DO list with all the things we Should be doing to get better at Arabic, cleaning our house, taking care of Davy, now taking care of our marriage, and, and, and! You get the idea? We wear ourselves out with expectations that did not necessarily come from God. We have been praying to learn to give ourselves more grace. This Bible Study has helped me in that, which is not the lesson I expected to learn. I expected to learn discipline and be able to connect with people. Instead, my missing a day does not any longer cause me guilt. If we don’t have internet, it can’t send, and there’s nothing I can do about it. The first few times we lost internet for awhile we would spend hours trying to work on it, stressing about it, worried about upsetting people back home, or Davy. Now it is a common part of life, and you get to experience it with us. Yesterday was so hot, and Louis and I felt very tired and sick and just beat, that we spent the majority of the day in bed. Today when I woke up feeling rested and started to prioritize my day, I realized I had written no Bible Study, had merely read the Creation story and Davy’s devotional to Davy. I didn’t feel guilty or stressed, just thought, well, that’s the way it goes. Thank you for praying for us, and I hope you rejoice with us in this answer to prayer and learning experience.

Overview

    David is asking God for justice in his life. With no reason, people are attacking him, and trying to trap him. David asks that God would turn their evil upon their own heads, and this would be cause for celebrating God and His salvation. When these attackers were sick, David mourned for them, prayed for them, and felt deeply sad along with them. But as David stumbles these same people laugh, and mock. David is beginning to feel the length of time this has been going on, and asks God for rescue so that those who are wrongfully his foes and those who do not seek peace, would be stopped by God. Then he seeks favor for those who rejoice in David’s righteousness, who praise God.

Characters

David—the Psalmist, the Lord, my pursuers, my soul, malicious witnesses, wretches whom I did not know, profane mockers, the great congregation, my foes, those who delight in my righteousness

Key Verse

David, amidst all the wrongs done to him that he is asking God to save him from, gives us two examples of how we should act amidst our foes and our Christian community.

Verses 13 & 27 “But I, when they were sick—I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest…Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!””

Cross References

Job 30:25 “Did not I weep for him whose day was hard? Was not my soul grieved for the needy?”

Psalm 69:10-11 “When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach. When I made a sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them.”

1 Kings 20:31 “And his servants said to him, “Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Let us put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads and go out to the king of Israel. Perhaps he will spare your life.””

Numbers 29:7 “On the tenth day of this seventh month you shall have a holy convocation and afflict yourselves. You shall do no work,” [Day of Atonement]

Matthew 10:13 “And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.”

Luke 10:6 “And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.”

Psalm 40:16 “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!””

Psalm 70:4 “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!””

Psalm 34:3 “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!”

Psalm 149:4 “For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.”

Conclusion

    I want to be the person who others feel peace near. I want to praise the Lord always for what He is doing in the lives around me. I want to pray, fast, weep, and mourn for those who may turn out to be my enemies, and even if I already know them to be foes. I want to live a life worthy of God’s favor because He already has shown me His favor.

Jesus in the Psalm

“While some dismiss “imprecatory” psalms (prayers for cursing) like this one as inappropriate, the Bible’s own testimony is that David wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Sam. 23:1-2; Mark 12:36; Acts 1:16). David’s inspired words reveal his Greater Son’s passion for his rule to come to earthly expression. That passion calls believers to submit their wills to the same ultimate goal. Christ prays for his enemies to be defeated so that his kingdom and our salvation would not be interrupted (Ps. 35:1-18; Rom. 11:9-10). As they echo David’s prayer, Christians will be diverted from personal vengeance (Rom. 12:17-21). Surrendering all vengeance to Christ means that Christians are prepared even to suffer, if that is how Christ chooses to defeat their enemies (Ps. 35:19-25; John 15:25; Rom. 12:15). Their constant prayer must be that all of Christ’s enemies would be conquered first by conversion. The goal of God’s threats is always conversion—that, rather than being “clothed with shame,” his ememies would come to be among those who proclaim, “Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant” (Ps. 35:26-28; Jer. 18:7-10).”*

2 Samuel 23:1-2 “Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel: “The Sprit of the LORD speaks by me; his word is on my tongue.”

Mark 12:36 “David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.'”

Acts 1:16 “”Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.”

Romans 11:9-10 “And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.”

Romans 12:15-21 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

John 15:25 “But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.'”

Jeremiah 18:7-10 “If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck it up and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.”

“Whatever difficulties imprecatory psalms such as this one raise, the ultimate truth they teach is that the curses David pronounces really should fall on us. Our sin deserves cursing. But such curses have fallen instead on our Savior. He substituted himself in our place, so that the Father can truly say to our souls, “I am your salvation!” (Ps. 35:3).”*

Tomorrow: Romans 7

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.

Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.

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