The Word Made Fresh
(A psalm of David.)
1Challenge those, LORD, who challenge me.
Fight those who fight me.
2Put on your shield, and buckle your weapons,
and come forward to defend me.
3Brandish the spear and javelin against my pursuers
and tell my soul, “I will rescue you!”
4Let those who are trying to kill me be put to shame.
Turn back those who plot against me and confuse them.
5Let them be like straw driven by the wind,
pushed on by an angel of the LORD.
6Make their path slippery and dark,
pursued by the angel of the LORD.
7They had no reason to ambush me,
but did, intending that I would be killed.
8Don’t even let them see you coming against them,
but let them be caught in their own trap and defeated.
9Then I will celebrate, rejoicing in the LORD’s rescue.
10Down to my bones I will wonder,
“LORD, who is like you? You rescue the weak from the strong.
You save them from those who would destroy them.”
11So-called witnesses come forth to speak against me,
spitefully asking me things they know I can’t answer.
12I have been good to them, but they repay me with evil,
and I am disconsolate.
13When they were sick I mourned for them.
I fasted and suffered. I bowed my head and prayed for them.
14I did this as if I were mourning for a friend or relative.
I walked about mournfully, as if my own mother was ill.
15But when I needed support they laughed.
They gathered together with questionable characters I didn’t
They came at me over and over,
16They were wicked in their mockery,
and ground their teeth at me.
17How long are you going to watch this, LORD?
Save me from them – they’re like ravenous lions after me!
18Rescue me. Then I will publicly thank you in front of all the people.
To the whole crowd I will praise your name.
19Don’t allow my sneakiest enemies to rejoice over hurting me.
Don’t let those who hate me wink at each other knowingly.
20They don’t want peace.
They make lying speeches to stir up people in the land.
21Their mouths gape as they make their case against me.
They say, “Oh, yes! Oh, yes! I have seen this with my own eyes!”
22You have seen all of this, LORD. Don’t be silent!
Don’t stand off so far away from me!
23Wake up! Defend me!
Take up my cause! You are my God and my Master!
24Protect me from their attacks, for you are the LORD my God!
Defend me by your righteousness and don’t let them gloat over
25Don’t let them say, “Oh, yes! We have everything we want now.
We have chewed him to bits.”
26Let everyone who is happy to see my calamity be put to shame.
Let those who rise up against me be put to shame and dishonor.
27Let those who want to see me vindicated shout for joy.
Let them say, “God is great and takes delight in the LORD’s
28Then I will tell the story of your righteousness,
and praise your name all the day long.
Superscription: the 31st psalm to be attributed to David.
1-3: The psalmist is beset by enemies and so comes right to the point: “Help, LORD!”
4-8: He wishes rather nasty things to be done to his foes.
9-10: He assures God that, once his adversaries are vanquished, he will offer praise and exultation to God.
11-16: The psalmist describes more of his situation: people whom he has treated respectfully have now “gathered in glee,” exulting in his misfortune – misfortune which seems to be the result of some mistake the psalmist has made although he stops short of making a confession.
17-18: The flow of the psalm is interrupted to lift another supplication to God and to promise God that he will be properly grateful when he is rescued.
19-21: Again, it is hinted that the psalmist has done something wrong, something that his enemies claim to have witnessed.
22-25: But God has also “seen,” and the psalmist calls on God to intervene and rescue him from their plans to discredit him.
26-28: We have seen a number of psalms that begin with praise. Psalm 35 ends with a promise that he and his friends will praise God as soon as his detractors have been thwarted.
The behavior David (or “the psalmist”) is describing sounds like American politics in a presidential election year. Not many of us will ever be in such a position that makes some group organize opposition to us and our plans. But if that ever happens, make sure God is on your side. Let me rephrase that: make sure you’re on God’s side!