Psalm 35

Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!

Take hold of shield and buckler, and rise up to help me!

Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers; say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”

Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life. Let them be turned back and confounded who devise evil against me.

Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them on.

Let their way be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.

For without cause they hid their net for me; without cause they dug a pit for my life.

Let ruin come on them unawares. And let the net that they hid ensnare them; let them fall in it—to their ruin.

Then my soul shall rejoice in the Lord, exulting in his deliverance.

All my bones shall say, “O Lord, who is like you? You deliver the weak from those too strong for them, the weak and needy from those who despoil them.”

Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me about things I do not know.

They repay me evil for good; my soul is forlorn.

But as for me, when they were sick, I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting. I prayed with head bowed on my bosom,

as though I grieved for a friend or a brother; I went about as one who laments for a mother, bowed down and in mourning.

But at my stumbling they gathered in glee, they gathered together against me; ruffians whom I did not know tore at me without ceasing;

they impiously mocked more and more, gnashing at me with their teeth.

How long, O Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their ravages, my life from the lions!

Then I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you.

Do not let my treacherous enemies rejoice over me, or those who hate me without cause wink the eye.

For they do not speak peace, but they conceive deceitful words against those who are quiet in the land.

They open wide their mouths against me; they say, “Aha, Aha, our eyes have seen it.”

You have seen, O Lord; do not be silent! O Lord, do not be far from me!

Wake up! Bestir yourself for my defense, for my cause, my God and my Lord!

Vindicate me, O Lord, my God, according to your righteousness, and do not let them rejoice over me.

Do not let them say to themselves, “Aha, we have our heart’s desire.” Do not let them say, “We have swallowed you up.”

Let all those who rejoice at my calamity be put to shame and confusion; let those who exalt themselves against me be clothed with shame and dishonor.

Let those who desire my vindication 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 day long.

——

The contrasts here in this Psalm are so striking. The Psalmist speaking of those who were after him (a similar theme through many of these Psalms so far), but this one brings in another element. It brings in the fact that the Psalmist has a relationship with those who are after him. He is grieving the fact that he grieved for them when they were sick or in need and yet they “gathered together against” him. In the other Psalms, it has been seeming unknown enemies or foes, but here it is the friend who has wounded him.

This is so real for all of us as we have all felt the sting of betrayal. There are few wounds that are as deep as that of betrayal. Yet our Lord felt that himself as he hung on the cross. I think of the hymns of Good Friday such as Ah Holy Jesus…

Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee!
‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee;
I crucified thee.

Yet, Jesus continues to love and accept us with love and grace. Amen, thank you Lord Jesus. “My tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all day long.”

This photo, btw, was taken on a beach in North Carolina a few years ago at moon rise. It was a long shutter exposure and the color shot of it (which was largely b&w itself) made it look like a weird sunrise. The contrasts of the moon rise looking like sun rise and the contrast in the two colors of this image speak of the contrasts of this Psalm.

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