Saturday, March 17, 2012

Praise and Thanks Amid Injustice

[A Psalm of David]

1 Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.

2 Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.

3 Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.

4 Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.

5 Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them.

6 Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.

7 For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.

8 Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.

9 And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.

10 All my bones shall say, LORD, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?

11 False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.

12 They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.

13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.

14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.

15 But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not:

16 With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.

17 Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.

18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.

19 Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.

20 For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.

21 Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.

22 This thou hast seen, O LORD: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me.

23 Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.

24 Judge me, O LORD my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.

25 Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, 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 hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me.

27 Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.

28 And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.

—Psalm 35 KJV Bible

In this psalm, David asks the Lord to deliver him and to bring destruction on David's enemies. David then laments the unjust hatred of his enemies against him and further asks the Lord for deliverance and justice.

Psalm 35 is one of the imprecatory psalms. An imprecation is the act of calling down a curse that invokes evil. The imprecatory psalms contain an invocation of judgment, calamity, or curse against one's enemies who are viewed as enemies of God. The Major Imprecatory Psalms include psalms 69 and 109. Others are psalms 7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 79, 109, 137, and 139 (some include in this list psalms 5, 6, 11, 12, 35, 37, 40, 52, 54, 56, 83, and 143). It is thought that the purposes of these imprecations are, depending on the psalm, to do one or more of the following: (1) to demonstrate God's just and righteous judgment toward the wicked, (2) to show the authority of God over the wicked, (3) to lead the wicked to seek the Lord, or (4) to cause the righteous to praise God. In the New Testament, Jesus quoted from them in John 15:25 (Psalms 35 and 69), the Apostle John references Psalm 69 in John 2:17, and the Apostle Paul quoted from Psalm 69 in his Letter to the Romans (Romans 11:9-10; Romans 15:3).

It is thought that Psalm 35 was written during the time that David was being hunted by King Saul. In a sense, the psalm is an elaboration of David's statement to Saul in 1 Samuel 24:15. The imprecation of this psalm is not directed against Saul himself, because David spared Saul's life. Instead, the imprecations are against those who encouraged Saul's insane jealousy against David.

In verses 1 trough 10, David asks the Lord to deliver David and to bring destruction on David's enemies. In verse 5, David asks, with a sense of poetic justice, that those who chase David be themselves chased by "the angel of the LORD"—in Hebrew, "malak YHVH," which literally means the ambassador or messenger of Jehovah. This phrase is considered a theophany, or a self-manifestation of God. Because this phrase is only used in the Old Testament, it is thought that it described the preincarnate Christ, or God the Son prior to His human birth.

In verses 7 through 8, David gives another example of poetic justice. David first describes traps which his pursuers intend for him. David then asks God that they become victims of their own traps.

In verses 11 trough 16, David laments the unjust hatred of his enemies against him. David notes that he was genuinely concerned for them when they were ill or in trouble, they repay his good with evil.

In verses 17 through 28, David further asks the Lord for deliverance and justice. In verse 17, 22 and 23, David calls to God as if God has become distracted or is not aware of David's situation. David wonders how long God will allow the situation continue. In verse 18, David seems to bargain with God, reminding Him that David will offer praise and thanksgiving among God's people once David is allowed to return to them.

In verses 19 and 21, David refers to his enemy's gestures of malice and contempt when they came in sight of him. Specifically, David notes how they did "wink with the eye" and how they "opened their mouth wide," laughing at their expected victory over David.

In verse 23, David calls to God as if God has become distracted or is not aware of David's situation. First, David addresses God using the Hebrew "Elohim," meaning the strong one; the mighty leader; the supreme Deity. David then addresses God using the Hebrew "Adonai," meaning master, lord, or sovereign.

Father, when I am put upon, for no reason that I can understand, remind me that You are not far away; that You are with me. Help me to reach out to You, to praise You, and to thank You in the bad times as well as the good.


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