1Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!
2Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help!
3Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers! Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!”
4Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life! Let them be turned back and disappointed who devise evil against me!
5Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them away!
6Let their way be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them!
7For without cause they hid their net for me; without cause they dug a pit for my life.
8Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it! And let the net that he hid ensnare him; let him fall into it—to his destruction!
9Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord, exulting in his salvation.
10All my bones shall say, “O Lord, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him?”
11Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me of things that I do not know.
12They repay me evil for good; my soul is bereft.
13But I, when they were sick— I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest.
14I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother; as one who laments his mother, I bowed down in mourning.
15But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered; they gathered together against me; wretches whom I did not know
tore at me without ceasing;
16like profane mockers at a feast, they gnash at me with their teeth.
17How long, O Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their destruction, my precious life from the lions!
18I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you.
19Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause.
20For they do not speak peace, but against those who are quiet in the land they devise words of deceit.
21They open wide their mouths against me; they say, “Aha, Aha! Our eyes have seen it!”
22You have seen, O Lord; be not silent! O Lord, be not far from me!
23Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord!
24Vindicate me, O Lord, my God, according to your righteousness, and let them not rejoice over me!
25Let them not say in their hearts, “Aha, our heart’s desire!” Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.”
26Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether who rejoice at my calamity! Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor who magnify themselves against me!
27Let 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!”
28Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.
As I read through Psalm 35 all I can think is, “I’m sure glad I’m not the king.” I have no idea what life would look like if I actually had enemies this hateful. There’s not a single person in my life I would speak about this way to God. So in that regard, it is tough for me to relate to the words of David today and if nothing else, the Psalm reminds me to be grateful for the life I have been given.
There is one verse that we should look more closely at because it points us straight to Jesus, for He quoted it while instructing His disciples just before He was crucified. That is verse 19. “Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause.”
But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
I don’t know what circumstances drove David’s enemies to seek harm to him. One can only assume that as king he had to make decisions that angered some of his countrymen all the time. You can’t please all the people all the time. And we do tend to get very angry, very quickly sometimes (and occasionally over really trivial stuff). Emotions run hot and death threats are made. This is what David probably faced on a daily basis. Jesus had done nothing to deserve the death He received. He was indeed a King but was not making decision that should have angered people. But the Jewish leadership found Him to be threatening to their way of life and so they sought to kill Him. In the face of that anger, He quotes the words of David “They hate me without cause.”
If you find yourself in a situation that draws you into a place of fear or distress over the hatred of others, this Psalm is a fantastic emotional release. David’s emotional honesty, while a little troubling, is also refreshing because he holds nothing back. It is important to embrace his example of all out truth before the Lord. All of our feelings are not sanctified – but they are certainly real. It’s okay to share them with God and don’t hold back. He can take it.