Prayer and praise if opposed
1 Of David.
Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.2 Take up shield and buckler; arise and come to my aid. 3 Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.” 4 May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame; may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay. 5 May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the LORD driving them away; 6 may their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the LORD pursuing them. 7 Since they hid their net for me without cause and without cause dug a pit for me, 8 may ruin overtake them by surprise—may the net they hid entangle them, may they fall into the pit, to their ruin. 9 Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation. 10 My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, O LORD? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.”
11 Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about. 12 They repay me evil for good and leave my soul forlorn. 13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, 14 I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother. 15 But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; attackers gathered against me when I was unaware. They slandered me without ceasing. 16 Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked; they gnashed their teeth at me. 17 O Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my life from their ravages, my precious life from these lions. 18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise you.
19 Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye. 20 They do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land. 21 They gape at me and say, “Aha! Aha! With our own eyes we have seen it.”
22 O LORD, you have seen this; be not silent. Do not be far from me, O Lord. 23 Awake, and rise to my defence! Contend for me, my God and Lord. 24 Vindicate me in your righteousness, O LORD my God; do not let them gloat over me. 25 Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!” or say, “We have swallowed him up.” 26 May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace. 27 May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The LORD be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.” 28 My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long.
Psalm 35 – Prayer and praise if opposed
(Verses 1-10) In David’s walk and work for God he has enemies. He enlists God’s help against them. What David experiences physically, we face against our enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil. We seek God’s help to live for, praise, work for, and make Him known to others. Have you put your trust in Jesus, and in his death on the cross to bear your sins and their penalty? Do you know Him as your risen and living Saviour? If so, pray for His help. He is your ‘shield’ (for general defence) and ‘buckler’ (for specific ‘close quarters’ defence). God fights to help you. He is your ‘salvation’. David targets in prayer all seeking his life, ruin, goods or capture. He asks God to scatter, capture and ruin them. He will joy in God‘s saving him and praise Him for rescuing poor and needy from them.
(Verses 11-18) David faces opposition and malice from some lying about what they say about him. He was sad and fasted humbly when they were ill. He mourned and wept for them. Yet they rejoiced in his failings. They met to gather gleefully when he stumbled. They mocked and ganged up on him with ceaseless slander. He prays desperately for God to rescue him as from lions with gnashing teeth. But even in this dark time he tells God he will yet thank and praise Him with ‘throngs of people’ for answering prayer and rescuing him. Look ahead always to God’s faithfulness.
(Verses 19-28) David anticipates repeat behaviour. He asks God to stop their triumph or gloats over him, but to stay near to defend him. He asks for their shame and confusion but joy for all who, support him and seek God’s exaltation. Again, he promises to honour God by his speech and praise. Always look for God to act and praise Him in the darkest times!