John T. Willis

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Delivering God from Malicious Enemies--Psalm 35

Any hearer or reader must immediately realize that the composer of Psalm 35 is undergoing severe persecution from his enemies. These are not mere physical enemies, but spiritual enemies who attempt to malign and destroy the poet.

1. This psalmist describes the various ways his enemies are attempting to destroy him.
     a. His enemies seek after his life and devise evil against him--35:4, 7-8, 25.
     b. His enemies despoil him--35:10.
     c. His enemies bring false accusations against him--35:11, 15-16, 20-21.
     d. His enemies lie about the psalmist's actions--35:20.
     e. His enemies rejoice over the poet's calamity and severe illness--35:13-15, 26.
     f. His enemies slander and mock the psalmist--35:15-16.

2. The Psalmist asks God to deliver him from his enemies. 35:1-10.
     a. The psalmist begs Yahweh to "contend" with his enemies. The verb "contend" comes from legal practices. It means to go to law with someone to enter into a court case against him. Then the psalmist depicts Yahweh as a powerful warrior who engages his enemies in warfare. He asks Yahweh to take hold of shield and buckler, to draw the spear and javelin. 35:1-3.
     b. Then the psalmist beseeches Yahweh to cause his enemies to be put to shame and dishonor, to be turned back and confounded. He compares Yahweh with a "wind" which drives his enemies like chaff before a powerful wind. As in Psalm 34:7, this psalmist compares this wind with "the angel of the Lord" driving them on. 35:4-6.
     c. Then the poet compares his enemies with a hunter who lays a trap as a hidden net or a pit into which the prey falls for capture but gets caught in his own trap [a boomerang]. 35:7-8.
     d. The psalmist compares himself with the "weak" and "needy." He boldly declares that when Yahweh delivers him from his malicious enemies, he will rejoice in the Lord because of his deliverance and declare to everyone that Yahweh alone is God. 35:9-10.

3. The Psalmist turns to describe the injustices of his enemies which has done against him. 35:11-18.
     a. His enemies have made legal charges against the psalmist and accused him of which of which he had never heard or imagined. They repaid him evil for good. 35:11-12.
     b. When the psalmist's enemies were sick, the psalmist prayed for them by intercession that they will be healed as though he grieved for a friend or a brother who was sick. 35:13-14.
     c. In stark contrast to this, his enemies rejoiced when the psalmist stumbled and tore at him without ceasing. They mocked him again and again, and gnashed at him with their teeth, expressing strong opposition against him. 35:15-16.
     d. The psalmist's enemies are like ferocious lions, and thus he implores Yahweh to deliver him, and promises that when this happens he will thank and praise Yahweh in the great congregation. 35:17-18.

4. The Psalmist concludes by asking Yahweh to intervene, overthrow his enemies, and deliver him. 35:19-28.
    a. The poet declares that his enemies are treacherous, do not speak peace, conceive deceitful words, and rejoice over the psalmist's serious problems. He is certain that Yahweh has seen what his enemies have done and rejoice over the psalmist's distresses. He beseeches Yahweh to not let his  enemies rejoice, not be silent, and not be far from the psalmist. 35:19-23.
    b. Then, the psalmist implores Yahweh to "vindicate" him against his enemies to put them to shame and confusion and dishonor. 35:24-26.
    c. Finally, the psalmist declares that when Yahweh delivers him from his enemies, he will "tell" everyone of Yahweh's righteousness and praise Yahweh all day long. 35:27-28.

Instead of retaliating against his enemies, this psalmist turns to Yahweh in prayer to implore Yahweh to defend him and overthrow his enemies.

I hope YOU are doing well. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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