Psalm 35 Strive, LORD, with those that strive with me - Fighting Prayer
I had a very hard time singing this psalm. I have never prayed like this, with one possible exception: In the 2016 U.S. election, I prayed similar verses from other psalms for the Lord to stop the wicked and the lies, whoever might be doing them.
"Jesus explicity utilizes this psalm, identifying with the position of the suppliant (John 15:25). In contrast, modern commentators are routinely uncomfortable with the psalm. ... Strangely, Jesus was apparently not embarrassed by the psalm and gives no hint of seeing himself as having superseded it, suggesting that once again this is a problem about us as interpreters of the psalm. .. Nor is praying for one's enemies Christian as opposed to Jewish." - Psalms by John Goldingay
This psalm is composed 3 equal sections each ending with praise:
vv 1-10 Prayer to cause my enemies who are pursuing me to fall into their own traps, ending with my individual rejoicing and awe.
vv 11-18 Recounting how they repaid my good toward them with evil and praying to save my soul from them, ending with thanking and praising in the assembly.
vv 19-28 Specific prayer for my enemies not to rejoice over me, ending with mutual rejoicing with my helpers.
v 1 The Hebrew word for strive seems to indicate verbal attacking as in much of this Psalm (vv 11, 15-16, 20 -21, 25). The Lord quoted this Psalm in Isa 49:25 saying that He would strive with those who strive with Jacob.
The Hebrew word for fight is very common, used 165 times. It means to fight as in a war (Exo 17:9). The Lord fought for Israel during the Exodus (Exo 14:14, 25).
David's prayer is for God to fight against those pursuing me as You fought against Pharoah's armies who were pursuing our forefathers.
How could we be sure that we are in the right to pray like this? Maybe I am in the wrong, or wrong in something, and I don't realize it.
If a person is saying lies about you that he knows are lies, as is the case in this psalm, we can pray like this. Jesus prayed, Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34). Saul of Tarsus was shown mercy because he acted in ignorance (1Tim 1:13). But what if they know what they are doing? That is different.
v2 - I think I do not need to pray for God to rouse Himself to help me or the church, but that is not true. I need to pray like David.
v3 - This is a good prayer for God to say to my soul, I am your salvation. God's speaking to us is the most encouraging thing. In our trouble, we need to pray this.
Would I pray for the angel of the Lord to push people along with the wind? No, but I could if I pray this psalm. (Acts 12:23)
Asaph quotes this verse when he is enlightened on what God is doing in the wonderful Psalm 73.
As their way of life is dark and slippery, so let it be to them.
v7 - This is the first verse where David tells what his enemies have done. He gives this as the reason for God to answer his preceding prayer.
We need to give a reason too to God for praying what we pray. For example, now Nov, 2017, the Chinese communist government is persecuting Christians without a cause.
To hide their net in a pit is to do something in darkness, not in the light (John 3:19-21).
v8 - This is justice. Be careful what we devise toward others as it will come back upon us (Ps 7:15;etc).
v9 - This is a test for our prayer. If God answers our prayer, will our soul rejoice in the Lord without our having to force it?
This is not to rejoice at our enemy's pain but in our salvation.
v10 - This is my favorite verse in the psalm. This is spontaneous and from our whole being.
v11 - This starts the second section of the psalm about the false witnesses against me and how I prayed for them. (Mat 26:60)
If I feel injured when another lays to my charge things I know not, forgetting that my Sinless Savior trod this path to the end, then I know nothing of Calvary love. - Amy Carmichael
v12 - "to the bereavement of my soul" means it really hurt bad. This is because I loved them. We should allow it to grieve us when those whom we love hurt us.
To repay someone evil for good is a terrible thing in the sight of God (Prov 17:13).
v13 - "to me" is literally "unto my bosom"
This psalm is considered by many Christians as not up to the New Testament standard, but here we see praying for our enemies, fulfilling the sermon on the mount (Mat 5:44).
There is a point, which I described in v1, when we might no longer pray for someone but pray to stop him instead (1John 5:16).
v15 - We should be careful not to be glad at someone else's pain (Prov 24:17-18).
v16 - To gnash your teeth against someone is extreme hatred especially because that person convicts you. Be careful not to gnash our teeth against others.(Ps 37:12; Lam 2:16; Acts 7:54).
v17 - David's soul = "my only one" indicates David had no children at this time. Christ prays the same thing on the cross (Ps 22:20).
v18 - "the assembly" is literally "the great assembly"
"a people" is literally "a numerous people".
Like the previous verse, this is the same as Christ prayed in Psalm 22.
This starts the 3rd and last section of this psalm.
v20 - "quiet" is literally "quiet in the land"
v24 - "Judge me" is literally "Judge me, O LORD, my God".
We should pray for the Lord to judge us by His righteousness. That will control our living.
- Steve Miller
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