Psalm 35:1
A Psalm of David. Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
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(1) Plead my cause.—Better, Strive, O Jehovah, with them that strive with me. The construction requires this, and the parallelism suggests recourse to arms rather than to the law.

Fight.—Literally, devour. (Comp. Numbers 24:8.

“He shall eat up the nations.” So a Latin author—

“Qua medius pugnæ vorat agmina vortex.”

SILIUS: Punic, 4:230.

Comp. Shakespeare—

“If the wars eat us not up.’—Coriolanus, Acts 1, sc. 1)

Psalm 35:1-3. Plead my cause, O Lord, &c. — Take my part, and maintain my cause against those that contend with me, and have raised war against me; for I am not able to defend myself, and have none else to appear for me. Take hold of shield and buckler — Wherewith to cover and defend me; that is, Be thou my protector, and preserve me under the shield of thy almighty providence. And stand up for my help — Oppose thyself to them, and keep off all their assaults. Draw out also the spear — Thy offensive as well as defensive weapons. Strike them through, as well as defend me. He alludes to the practice of soldiers in battle. Stop the way, &c. — In which they are advancing directly and furiously against me. Let them run upon the spear and the sword, if they continue to pursue me. Say unto my soul — That is, unto me, either, 1st, By thy Spirit assuring me of it; or, 2d, By thy providence effecting it. Confirm my soul in this belief, that thou wilt at last deliver me from this persecution.

35:1-10 It is no new thing for the most righteous men, and the most righteous cause, to meet with enemies. This is a fruit of the old enmity in the seed of the serpent against the Seed of the woman. David in his afflictions, Christ in his sufferings, the church under persecution, and the Christian in the hour temptation, all beseech the Almighty to appear in their behalf, and to vindicate their cause. We are apt to justify uneasiness at the injuries men do us, by our never having given them cause to use us so ill; but this should make us easy, for then we may the more expect that God will plead our cause. David prayed to God to manifest himself in his trial. Let me have inward comfort under all outward troubles, to support my soul. If God, by his Spirit, witness to our spirits that he is our salvation, we need desire no more to make us happy. If God is our Friend, no matter who is our enemy. By the Spirit of prophecy, David foretells the just judgments of God that would come upon his enemies for their great wickedness. These are predictions, they look forward, and show the doom of the enemies of Christ and his kingdom. We must not desire or pray for the ruin of any enemies, except our lusts and the evil spirits that would compass our destruction. A traveller benighted in a bad road, is an expressive emblem of a sinner walking in the slippery and dangerous ways of temptation. But David having committed his cause to God, did not doubt of his own deliverance. The bones are the strongest parts of the body. The psalmist here proposes to serve and glorify God with all his strength. If such language may be applied to outward salvation, how much more will it apply to heavenly things in Christ Jesus!Plead my cause, O Lord - The word "plead" means, properly, to argue in support of a claim, or against the claim of another; to urge reasons for or against; to attempt to persuade one by argument or supplication; as, to plead for the life of a criminal, that is, to urge reasons why he should be acquitted or pardoned; and then, to supplicate with earnestness in any way. The original word used here - רוב rûb - means to contend, strive, quarrel; and then, to contend before a judge, to manage or plead a cause. The idea here is, that the psalmist desires that God would undertake his cause against those who had risen up against him, as if it were managed before a tribunal, or before a judge, and God should be the advocate. The same word is used, in another form, in the other member of the sentence - "with them that strive - יריבי yârı̂ybāy - against me." The idea is, that they were "pleading" against him, or were urging arguments, as it were, before a tribunal or a judge, why he should be condemned. They were his bitter opponents, engaged in bringing all manner of false accusations against him, and seeking his condemnation. The psalmist felt that he could not manage his own cause against them; and he, therefore, pleads with God that He would interpose, and stand up for him.

Fight against them that fight against me - The same idea substantially occurs here as in the former member of the verse. It is a prayer that God would undertake his cause; that He would exert His power against those who were opposed to him.


Ps 35:1-28. The Psalmist invokes God's aid, contrasting the hypocrisy, cunning, and malice of his enemies with his integrity and generosity. The imprecations of the first part including a brief notice of their conduct, the fuller exposition of their hypocrisy and malice in the second, and the earnest prayer for deliverance from their scornful triumph in the last, are each closed (Ps 35:9, 10, 18, 27, 28) with promises of praise for the desired relief, in which his friends will unite. The historical occasion is probably 1Sa 24:1-22.

1-3. God is invoked in the character of a warrior (Ex 15:3; De 32:41).

1 Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.

2 Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.

3 Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.

4 Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.

5 Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the Lord chase them.

6 Let their way be dark and slippery; and let the angel of the Lord persecute them.

7 For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.

8 Let destruction come upon him at unawares: and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.

9 And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation.

10 All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?

Psalm 35:1

"Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me." Plead against those who plead against me; strive with my strivers; contend with my contenders. If they urge their suit in the law-court, Lord, meet them there, and beat them at their own weapons. Every saint of God shall have this privilege: the accuser of the brethren shall be met by the Advocate of the saints. "Fight against them that fight against me." If my adversaries try force as well as fraud, be a match for them; oppose thy strength to their strength. Jesus does this for all his beloved - for them he is both intercessor and champion; whatever aid they need they shall receive from him, and in whatever manner they are assaulted they shall be effectually defended. Let us not fail to leave our case into the Lord's hand. Vain is the help of man, but ever effectual is the interposition of heaven. What is here asked for as a boon, may be regarded as a promise, to all the saints; in judgment they shall have a divine advocate, in warfare a divine protection.

Psalm 35:2

"Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help." In vivid metaphor the Lord is pictured as coming forth armed for battle, and interposing himself between his servant and his enemies. The greater and lesser protections of providence may be here intended by the two defensive weapons, find by the Lord's standing up is meant his active and zealous preservation of his servant in the perilous hour. This poetic imagery shows how the Psalmist realised the existence and power of God; and thought of him as a real and actual personage, truly working for his afflicted.

continued...THE ARGUMENT

This Psalm was penned by David when he was slandered and persecuted by Saul and his stewards, as is manifest from the whole body of it.

David prayeth for his own safety, Psalm 35:1,2, and his enemies’ destruction, Psalm 35:3-10; showeth their falsehood, and unthankfulness, and malice, Psalm 35:11-21. He prayeth for their confussion, Psalm 35:22-26; but for the preservation and joy of the godly, Psalm 35:27,28.

Seeing I am unable to right myself and the magistrates refuse to do me justice, be thou my Patron and Protector.

Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me,.... Meaning Saul and his courtiers; concerning whom he elsewhere desires that the Lord would judge between them, plead his cause, and deliver him; as he accordingly did, and maintained it, and the righteousness of it, 1 Samuel 24:12. So Christ pleaded not his own cause as man, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously; and his people leave their cause with him, who is their advocate, and is able to plead it thoroughly; and does plead it against wicked and ungodly men, who unrighteously charge them; against. Satan the accuser of the brethren, who stands at their right hand to resist them; and against their own hearts, and the sins of them, which lust and war against them, and condemn them;

fight against them that fight against me: so the Lord is sometimes represented as a man of war, and Christ as a warrior fighting for the saints; and safe are they on whose side he is; but miserable all such who are found fighters against him and his; for none ever opposed him and prospered.

<<A Psalm of David.>> Plead my {a} cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.

(a) He desires God to undertake his cause against them who persecute him and slander him.

1. Plead my cause] There is as it were a suit between him and his enemies. He appeals to Jehovah the Judge to do him justice (cp. Psalm 35:23-24). But the court in which the cause is to be tried is the field of battle; and therefore (dropping the figure of a suit) he calls on Jehovah to arm on his behalf. So in Psalm 9:4 victory is regarded as a judicial decision. Cp. 1 Samuel 24:15; 1 Samuel 25:39. The renderings strive with them that strive with me (R.V.); or, (as Isaiah 49:25), contend with them that contend with me, obscure this point, and miss the connexion with Psalm 35:23. Plead my cause with them that implead me (Cheyne) represents the original better.

1–3. Appeal to Jehovah to arm himself as the Psalmist’s champion.

Verse 1. - Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me (comp. 1 Samuel 24:15, "The Lord therefore be Judge, and judge between me and thee; and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand." The word translated "plead" is a judicial term; but the context shows that it was in the battle-field, rather than in the law-courts, that David's cause was to be pleaded. The second hemistich is therefore added to explain and correct the first; it is fighting, not pleading, that is needed under the circumstances. Psalm 35:1The psalmist begins in a martial and anthropomorphical style such as we have not hitherto met with. On the ultima-accentuation of ריבה, vid., on Psalm 3:8. Both את are signs of the accusative. This is a more natural rendering here, where the psalmist implores God to subjugate his foes, than to regard את as equivalent to עם (cf. Isaiah 49:25 with ib. Psalm 27:8; Job 10:2); and, moreover, for the very same reason the expression in this instance is לחם, (in the Kal, which otherwise only lends the part. לחם, Psalm 56:2., to the Niph. נלחם) instead of the reciprocal form הלּחם. It is usually supposed that לחם means properly vorare, and war is consequently conceived of as a devouring of men; but the Arabic offers another primary meaning: to press close and compact (Niph. to one another), consequently מלחמה means a dense crowd, a dense bustle and tumult (cf. the Homeric κλόνος). The summons to Jahve to arm, and that in a twofold manner, viz., with the מגן for warding off the hostile blow and צנּה (vid., Psalm 5:13) which covers the body like a testudo - by which, inasmuch as it is impossible to hold both shields at the same time, the figure is idealised - is meant to express, that He is to make Himself felt by the foes, in every possible way, to their own confounding, as the unapproachable One. The ב of בּעזרתי (in the character of help turned towards me) is the so-called Beth essentiae,

(Note: The Hebrew Beth essentiae is used much more freely and extensively than the Arabic, which is joined exclusively to the predicate of a simple clause, where in our language the verb is "to be," and as a rule only to the predicate of negative clauses: laisa bi-hakı̂mim, he is not wise, or laisa bi-l-hakı̂mi, he is not the wise man. The predicate can accordingly be indeterminate or determinate. Moreover, in Hebrew, where this ב is found with the predicate, with the complement of the subject, or even, though only as a solecism (vid., Gesenius' Thesaurus p. 175), with the subject itself, the word to which it is prefixed may be determinate, whether as an attribute determined by itself (Exodus 6:3, בּאל שׁדּי), by a suffix (as above, Psalm 35:2, cf. Psalm 146:5; Exodus 18:4; Proverbs 3:26), or even by the article. At all events no syntactic objection can be brought against the interpretations of בעשׁן, "in the quality of smoke," Psalm 37:20; cf. בּהבל, Psalm 78:33, and of בּנּפשׁ, "in the character of the soul," Leviticus 17:11.)

as in Exodus 18:4; Proverbs 3:26; Isaiah 48:10 (tanquam argentum), and frequently. הריק has the same meaning as in Exodus 15:9, cf. Genesis 14:14, viz., to bring forth, draw forth, to draw or unsheath (a sword); for as a sword is sheathed when not in use, so a spear is kept in the δουροδόκη (Odyss. i. 128). Even Parchon understands סגר to mean a weapon; and the word σάγαρις, in Herodotus, Xenophon, and Strabo, a northern Asiatic, more especially a Scythian, battle-axe, has been compared here;

(Note: Probably one and the same word with the Armenian sakr, to which are assigned the (Italian) meanings mannaja, scure, brando ferro, in Ciakciak's Armenian Lexicon; cf. Lagarde's Gesammelte Abhandlungen, 1866, S. 203.)

but the battle-axe was not a Hebrew weapon, and סגר, which, thus defectively written, has the look of an imperative, also gives the best sense when so taken (lxx σύγκλεισον, Targ. וּטרוק), viz., close, i.e., cut off, interclude scil. viam. The word has Dech, because לקראת רדפי, "casting Thyself against my persecutors," belongs to both the preceding summonses. Dachselt rightly directs attention to the similar sequence of the accents in Psalm 55:19; Psalm 66:15. The Mosaic figure of Jahve as a man of war (אישׁ מלחמה, Exodus 15:3; Deuteronomy 32:41.) is worked out here with brilliant colours, under the impulse of a wrathful spirit. But we see from Psalm 35:3 what a spiritual meaning, nevertheless, the whole description is intended to convey. In God's intervention, thus manifested in facts, he would gladly hear His consolatory utterance to himself. The burden of his cry is that God's love may break through the present outward appearance of wrath and make itself felt by him.

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