Even at the Top, It is Lonely (Psalm 35)

Today we pick up with another Psalm credited to David, and with it we see again (as we’ll see much of this week) that it is a song about looking to God during a time of life shrouded in great distress. And as with most of these Psalms, we don’t know exactly what the historical situation was; it could have been one of dozens of terribly difficult circumstances in David’s life.

Throughout this summer study through the book of Psalms, we have been talking about the different categorizations of the songs in God’s Playlist: praise Psalms, wisdom Psalms, worship Psalms, etc. And like today, some may fit within a couple of categories.

Psalm 35 is both a lament Psalm and an imprecatory Psalm. We have studied laments already this summer, and I’ll go into greater discussion on the full meaning of imprecatory Psalms as the week progresses. Briefly, it involves a calling down of righteous judgment upon those who are evil and stand opposed to the writer, and by association against God.

It makes sense that both of these elements be together, for the writer will lament about the problem and its associated injustice, while also calling upon God for action against the oppressor.

I am sure it is impossible that any person reading this devotional has escaped some season of life where it would seem that God surely is waiting a terribly long time to answer an obvious problem or injustice. In the midst of the sorrows and challenges of this world, God welcomes us to call to him in our distress and trust him for answers and relief. Yet he works on a different time table than we do, and his purposes are higher and greater than our own. God even allows us to suffer in order that we may gain values we would never otherwise learn.

It is natural for us to envy people who are “at the top.” It would seem that to live at the top of life’s food chain would be totally awesome – to be in a position of comfort, wealth, power, or privilege. This would appear to present a life free of common worries and human anxieties.

But David was at the top for portions of his life. He was the king, the chosen one of God … even being called a man after God’s own heart. Of biblical characters, perhaps only his son Solomon had a more externally blessed life. These are guys who possessed everything.

But a problem with being at the top and “walking the point” through life is that you are a target of the plots of jealous, envious, and otherwise evil people. Surely David must have had times where he thought, “this king thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

There is no successful independence from God; we are all dependent – even the King of Israel who was especially loved and blessed by God. So don’t fight it. Trust him. Bring him your troubles and difficulties. Continue walking with him through the dark times and the pain. For a day always comes when, if you’ve been faithful, you will see God’s vindication in your life, and you will be able to sing his praise.

Psalm 35

Of David.

1 Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.
2 Take up shield and armor; arise and come to my aid.
3 Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to me, “I am your salvation.”

4 May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame; may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay.
5 May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them away; 6 may their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.

7 Since they hid their net for me without cause and without cause dug a pit for me, 8 may ruin overtake them by surprise—may the net they hid entangle them, may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.
9 Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation.
10 My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, Lord?  You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.”

11 Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about.
12 They repay me evil for good and leave me like one bereaved.
13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, 14 I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother.
15 But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; assailants gathered against me without my knowledge. They slandered me without ceasing.
16 Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked; they gnashed their teeth at me.

17 How long, Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their ravages, my precious life from these lions.
18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.
19 Do not let those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; do not let those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye.
20 They do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land.
21 They sneer at me and say, “Aha! Aha! With our own eyes we have seen it.”

22 Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent. Do not be far from me, Lord.
23 Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord.
24 Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God; do not let them gloat over me.
25 Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!” or say, “We have swallowed him up.”

26 May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace.
27 May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.”

28 My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long.