Psalm 35: A Prayer for Rescue
In the final section of Psalm 35, David asks God to vindicate him. His enemies are gloating over his downfall. It is hard enough to go through betrayal, but when people laugh about your pain, it’s even worse.
Let not those rejoice over me
who are wrongfully my foes,
and let not those wink the eye
who hate me without cause. (35:19)
David uses the word “rejoice” in the sense of gloating three times in these last verses (vv. 19, 24, 26). The worst outcome would be for things to turn out well for the bad guys, for the wicked people who are taking advantage of the people who are “quiet in the land” (v. 20).
Would God allow this injustice to stand? No; when God saves his king, all the people will rejoice.
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!”
Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
and of your praise all the day long. (35:27, 28)
The good people in Israel were loyal to David, and they rejoiced when God rescued him. All Israel knew that God had chosen David, and the prophet Samuel had anointed him to be king. When God saved the king, he brought blessing to the nation. The faithful in the land praised God for his faithfulness to his servant David.
In the same way, as believers we rejoice at God’s faithfulness in saving our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the great Son of David, and ultimately this psalm is about him and the opposition he endured. The leaders of Israel were thrilled when they killed him on the cross. They had their heart’s desire. But God raised him from the dead and rescued him. And now Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father, waiting for God to place all his enemies beneath his feet (Psalm 110:1).
Christ’s enemies hate him still today. I wish they would put down their swords, stop their lies, and worship him, but they will not. And so there is nothing left for them but the judgment God has warned us about in both the Old and New Testaments.
Some people write off Psalm 35 and other imprecatory psalms by saying that David was vindictive and out for revenge. They suggest that David asked God to destroy his enemies because he was human and this was a character flaw. If he had been a better man, they say, he would not have prayed this way.