|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
35:11-16 Call a man ungrateful, and you can call him no worse: this was the character of David's enemies. Herein he was a type of Christ. David shows how tenderly he had behaved towards them in afflictions. We ought to mourn for the sins of those who do not mourn for themselves. We shall not lose by the good offices we do to any, how ungrateful soever they may be. Let us learn to possess our souls in patience and meekness like David, or rather after Christ's example.
Verses 11-18. - The second part of the psalm begins with a long complaint, David sets forth the woes under which he is suffering. There are:
1. Calumny (ver. 11).
2. Ingratitude (vers. 12-14).
3. Malevolence (ver. 15).
4. Insult from the vile and base (ver. 16).
He then passes to prayer: Will not God rescue him (ver. 17)? In conclusion, he for the second time promises praise and thanks (ver. 18). Verse 11. - False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I know not (comp. Psalm 27:12); literally, malicious, or unrighteous witnesses (see Exodus 23:1). It is not probable that witnesses in a court are intended. David's calumniators accused him privately to Saul of "seeking his hurt" (1 Samuel 24:9), and so stirred Saul up against him (1 Samuel 26:19). By what is here said, they appear to have accused him to his face, and to have endeavoured to extort from him a confession of guilt.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
False witnesses did rise up,.... Against David, saying he sought the hurt of Saul, 1 Samuel 24:9, as did against David's antitype, the Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew 26:59; and against his apostles, Acts 24:5; and very frequently do they rise up and bear false witness against his people, which is a very heinous crime;
they laid to my charge things that I knew not: such as David was not conscious of, never thought of doing, much less attempted to do; as the taking away of Saul's life, the contrary of which appeared by his cutting off his skirt only when he was in his hands, and taking away his spear from his bolster when he could have taken off his head; and such were the things laid to the charge of the Messiah, David's son, who knew no sin, nor did any; and the like are exhibited against his members, who go through good report and bad report, and whose good conversation is falsely accused by malicious men.
The Treasury of David
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.
"False witnesses did rise up." This is the old device of the ungodly, and we must not wonder if it be used against us as against our Master. To please Saul, there were always men to be found mean enough to impeach David. "they laid to my charge things that I knew not." He had not even a thought of sedition; he was loyal even to excess; yet they accused him of conspiring against the Lord's anointed. He was not only innocent, but ignorant of the fault alleged. It is well when our hands are so clean that no trace of dirt is upon them.
"They rewarded me evil for good." This is devilish; but men have learned the lesson well of the old Destroyer, and practise it most perfectly. "To the spoiling of my soul." They robbed him of comfort, and even would have taken his life had it not been for special rescues from the hand of God. The wicked would strip the righteous naked to their very soul: they know no pity. There are only such limits to human malice as God himself may see fit to place.
"But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth." David had been a man of sympathy; he had mourned when Saul was in ill health, putting on the weeds of sorrow for him as though he were a near and dear friend. His heart went into mourning for his sick master. "I humbled my soul with fasting." He prayed for his enemy, and made the sick man's case his own, pleading and confessing as if his own personal sin had brought on the evil. This showed a noble spirit in David, and greatly aggravated the baseness of those who now so cruelly persecuted him. "And my prayer returned into mine own bosom." Prayer is never lost: if it bless not those for whom intercession is made, it shall bless the intercessors. Clouds do not always descend in showers upon the same spot from which the vapours ascended, but they come down somewhere; and even so do supplications in some place or other yield their showers of mercy. If our dove find no rest for the sole of her foot among our enemies, it shall fly into our bosoms and bring an olive branch of peace in its mouth. How sharp is the contrast all through this Psalm between the righteous and his enemies! We must be earnest to keep the line of demarcation broad and clear.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. False witnesses—literally, "Witnesses of injustice and cruelty" (compare Ps 11:5; 25:19).
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