Jehovah Called on to Deliver the Remnant
Jehovah Called on to Deliver the Remnant
Psalm 35. This is a Psalm of David, and it really is a call for Jehovah to deliver the faithful in a time of extreme opposition and persecution. It is an agonized, beseeching cry for the Lord to act, to intervene on behalf of His saints.1
A Psalm of David.
1 Strive, O Jehovah, with them that strive with me; fight against them that fight against me:
2 Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help;
3 And draw out the spear, and stop the way against my pursuers: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
vv.1-3 Call for Jehovah to Intervene. The faithful call on Jehovah to intervene in His warrior character; to “strive” and “fight” against their enemies. Numerous figures are used. The call on the Lord to “Take hold of shield and buckler”, and to “draw out the spear”, to stand up and block the inroads of the enemy, and take the place of the defender and Savior of the remnant! But the Lord does not step in at this point. There is a work that needs to be done, so He allows the trial to go on. The Lord must first use His “arrows” to work repentance in our hearts (c.p. Psa. 38:2).
4 Let them be put to shame and confounded that seek after my life; let them be turned backward and brought to confusion that devise my hurt:
5 Let them be as chaff before the wind, and let the angel of Jehovah drive them away;
6 Let their way be dark and slippery, and let the angel of Jehovah pursue them.
7 For without cause have they hidden for me their net in a pit; without cause they have digged it for my soul.
8 Let destruction come upon him unawares, and let his net which he hath hidden catch himself: for destruction let him fall therein.
9 And my soul shall be joyful in Jehovah; it shall rejoice in his salvation.
10 All my bones shall say, Jehovah, who is like unto thee, who deliverest the afflicted from one stronger than he, yea, the afflicted and the needy from him that spoileth him!
vv.4-10 Call for the Destruction of Enemies. This is a sample of imprecatory prayer. The faithful pray for the destruction of their enemies, and there is a certain righteous anger in the prayer. There is a special emphasis on praying that the demise of the wicked would be through the miscarriage of their own efforts; that the devices and plans of the enemies would boomerang, rebound, or backlash against them. If Jehovah were to accomplish this, the faithful predict that unprecedented praise and worship will follow (vv.9-10).
11 Unrighteous witnesses rise up; they lay to my charge things which I know not.
12 They reward me evil for good, to the bereavement of my soul.
13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I chastened my soul with fasting, and my prayer returned into mine own bosom:
14 I behaved myself as though he had been a friend, a brother to me; I bowed down in sadness, as one that mourneth for a mother.
15 But at my halting they rejoiced, and gathered together: the slanderers gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not:
16 With profane jesters for bread, they have gnashed their teeth against me.
vv.11-16 Insult, Slander, and Mocking. The deep personal pain of betrayal is expounded. False accusations (v.11) and rewarding evil for good (v.12) are things that Christ experienced, and in which He is able to sympathize perfectly with the experiences of His suffering saints. In spite of patience and grace toward the persecutors (sackcloth, fasting, mourning when they were sick), and a spirit of friendship toward them (as a friend, or a brother), there was no corresponding return of love. Instead, “they reward me evil for good, to the bereavement of my soul”. When the faithful fell into calamity, the enemy rejoiced, and gathered around to mock, and gnash their teeth, a sign of hatred. We cannot help but see the sentiments of these verses as consistent with the feelings of Christ in connection with His betrayal by Judas! The loss He felt was like one losing a mother. In fact, this is one of five psalms that speak prophetically of Judas; Psalm 35:14; Psa. 41:9; Psalm 55:12-14; Psalm 69:4; and Psalm 109:1-20. This Psalm is prophetic of the Jewish remnant, who feel betrayed by their countrymen. More direct prophecies about Judas follow in Psalm 41.
17 Lord, how long wilt thou look on? Rescue my soul from their destructions, my only one from the young lions.
18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation; I will praise thee among much people.
19 Let not them that are wrongfully mine enemies rejoice over me; let them not wink with the eye that hate me without cause.
20 For they speak not peace; and they devise deceitful words against the quiet in the land.
21 And they opened their mouth wide against me; they said, Aha! aha! our eye hath seen it.
22 Thou hast seen it, Jehovah: keep not silence; O Lord, be not far from me.
23 Stir up thyself, and awake for my right, for my cause, my God and Lord!
24 Judge me, Jehovah my God, according to thy righteousness, and let them not rejoice over me.
25 Let them not say in their heart, Aha! so would we have it. Let them not say, We have swallowed him up.
26 Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine adversity; let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me.
27 Let them exult and rejoice that delight in my righteousness; and let them say continually, Jehovah be magnified, who delighteth in the prosperity of his servant.
28 And my tongue shall talk of thy righteousness, and of thy praise, all the day.
vv.17-28 Call for Jehovah to Intervene. The last half of the Psalm is an impassioned plea for Jehovah to intervene and rescue the soul of the faithful from the enemy. The word sometimes translated “my darling” or “my only one” refers to the human life, which is precious (see Psalm 22:20). In Psa. 22 it applied to Christ personally, here to the faithful remnant. In v.18, the faithful (with Christ in spirit) look on to the day of deliverance, to praising Jehovah in “the great congregation” (restored Israel) and “among much people” (all nations). In v.20 we have the character of the faithful; “the quiet in the land”, though persecuted by the wicked. There is an interesting exchange in vv.21-22. The wicked accuse the faithful falsely of some secret sin; “they said, Aha! aha! our eye hath seen it”. The faithful respond, “Thou hast seen it, Jehovah”. There is a little play on words there. Then language in vv.22-23 is very similar to that of Psalm 22, but there it is Christ, and here it is the remnant. They confess, “my God and Lord”, much like Thomas (John 20:28). To these suffering saints, it appears as if the Lord is far away (v.22), or asleep (v.23). They call on the Lord to awake, and to judge their condition “according to thy righteousness”. It seems incompatible with God’s righteousness to allow the persecution to go on. The remnant calls on the Lord to not allow the wicked to rejoice in their triumph, but rather let the faithful rejoice in Jehovah’s deliverance. The result of deliverance is unending praise to Jehovah!