Psalm 35:11
False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBTODWESTSK
Psalm 35:11-12. They laid to my charge things I knew not — They accused me to Saul of treacherous designs against his crown and life, and of other crimes of which I was wholly innocent and ignorant. They rewarded me evil for good — For the good offices which I performed to divers of them when I had favour and power in Saul’s court and camp. To the spoiling of my soul — That is, to the stripping of my person of all my comforts and hopes, and of my life itself. This interpretation of the passage, the reader will observe, is given according to the present translation. But the Hebrew verbs, יקומו, ישׁאלו, ישׁלמו, jeshallemu, jishalu, jekumu, are all in the future tense, and the clauses are more properly rendered, False witnesses will rise up, &c.; They will lay to my charge, &c.; They will reward me, &c., which seems to intimate that the prophet was speaking of what was then future, and in the person of him against whom false witnesses did arise, to whose charge they laid things he knew not, and whom they rewarded evil for good; “who, because our souls were sick, clothed himself with the sackcloth of our flesh; mourning at the very thought that his prayers, in any measure, should return into his own bosom.” See Fenwick.

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.False witnesses did rise up - Margin, "witnesses of wrong." The Hebrew is, "witnesses of "violence,"" חמס châmâs. That is, they were persons who, in what they said of me, were guilty of injustice and wrong. Their conduct was injurious to me as an act of "violence" would be.

They laid to my charge - Margin, as in Hebrew: "they asked me." The word "asked" here seems to be used in the sense of "demand;" that is, they demanded an "answer" to what was said. The usage appears to have been derived from courts, where the forms of trial may have been in the way of question and answer - the mode of accusation having been in the form of "asking" how a thing was, or whether it was so; and the defense being regarded as an "answer" to such an inquiry. Hence, it is synonymous with our expression of laying to the charge of anyone; or of accusing anyone.

Things that I knew not - Of which I had no knowledge; which never came into my mind. What those charges were the psalmist does not specify; but it is not uncommon for a good man to be falsely accused, and we are certain that such things occurred in the life of David.

11. False witnesses—literally, "Witnesses of injustice and cruelty" (compare Ps 11:5; 25:19).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.

Psalm 35:11

"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.

Psalm 35:12

"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.

Psalm 35:13

"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.


They accused me to Saul of treachery and designs against his crown and life, and other crimes whereof I was wholly innocent and ignorant.

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.

{i} False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.

(i) That would not permit me to purge myself.

11. False witnesses] Rather, unrighteous, or, malicious, witnesses rise up; lit., witnesses of violence, as in Exodus 23:1; Deuteronomy 19:16. Cp. Psalm 27:12 (A.V. cruelty).

they laid to my charge &c.] R.V. they ask of me things that I know not: calling me to account for crimes, of which I have not even any knowledge. Cp. Psalm 69:4. The phraseology is that of a court; not that the Psalmist is to be thought of as actually put upon his trial. David was falsely and maliciously accused of treason and conspiracy against the king’s life (1 Samuel 24:9). Cp. Matthew 26:59 ff.

11–18. The causelessness of the Psalmist’s persecution and the ingratitude of his persecutors are urged as reasons for God’s interference on his behalf.

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. Psalm 35:11The second part begins with two strophes of sorrowful description of the wickedness of the enemy. The futures in Psalm 35:11, Psalm 35:12 describe that which at present takes place. עדי חמס are μάρτυρες ἄδικοι (lxx). They demand from him a confession of acts and things which lie entirely outside his consciousness and his way of acting (cf. Psalm 69:5): they would gladly brand him as a perjurer, as an usurper, and as a plunderer. What David complains of in Psalm 35:12, we hear Saul confess in 1 Samuel 24:18; the charge of ingratitude is therefore well-grounded. שׁכול לנפשׁי is not dependent on ישׁלּמוּני, in which case one would have looked for כּשׁול rather than שׁכול, but a substantival clause: "bereavement is to my soul," its condition is that of being forsaken by all those who formerly showed me marks of affection; all these have, as it were, died off so far as I am concerned. Not only had David been obliged to save his parents by causing them to flee to Moab, but Michal was also torn from him, Jonathan removed, and all those at the court of Saul, who had hitherto sought the favour and friendship of the highly-gifted and highly-honoured son-in-law of the king, were alienated from him. And how sincerely and sympathisingly had he reciprocated their leanings towards himself! By ואני in Psalm 35:13, he contrasts himself with the ungrateful and unfeeling ones. Instead of לבשׁתּי שׁק, the expression is לבוּשׁי שׁק; the tendency of poetry for the use of the substantival clause is closely allied to its fondness for well-conceived brevity and pictorial definition. He manifested towards them a love which knew no distinction between the ego and tu, which regarded their sorrow and their guilt as his own, and joined with them in their expiation for it; his head was lowered upon his breast, or he cowered, like Elijah (1 Kings 18:42), upon the ground with his head hanging down upon his breast even to his knees, so that that which came forth from the inmost depths of his nature returned again as it were in broken accents into his bosom. Riehm's rendering, "at their ungodliness and hostility my prayer for things not executed came back," is contrary to the connection, and makes one look for אלי instead of אל־חיקי. Perret-Gentil correctly renders it, Je priai la tte penche sur la poitrine.

The Psalmist goes on to say in Psalm 35:14, I went about as for a friend, for a brother to me, i.e., as if the sufferer had been such to me. With התחלּך, used of the solemn slowness of gait, which corresponds to the sacredness of pain, alternates שׁחח used of the being bowed down very low, in which the heavy weight of pain finds expression. כּאבל־אם, not: like the mourning (from אבל, like הבל from הבל) of a mother (Hitzig), but, since a personal אבל is more natural, and next to the mourning for an only child the loss of a mother (cf. Genesis 24:67) strikes the deepest wound: like one who mourns (אבל־,

(Note: According to the old Babylonian reading (belonging to a period when Pathach and Segol were as yet not distinguished from one another), כּאבל (with the sign of Pathach and the stroke for Raphe below equals ); vid., Pinsker, Zur Geschichte des Karaismus, S. 141, and Einleitung, S. 118.)

like לבן־, Genesis 49:12, from אבל, construct state, like טמא) for a mother (the objective genitive, as in Genesis 27:41; Deuteronomy 34:8; Amos 8:10; Jeremiah 6:26). קדר signifies the colours, outward appearance, and attire of mourning: with dark clothes, with tearful unwashed face, and with neglected beard. But as for them - how do they act at the present time, when he finds himself in צלע (Psalm 38:17; Job 18:12), a sideway direction, i.e., likely to fall (from צלע, Arab. ḍl‛, to incline towards the side)? They rejoice and gather themselves together, and this assemblage of ungrateful friends rejoicing over another's misfortune, is augmented by the lowest rabble that attach themselves to them. The verb נכה means to smite; Niph. נכּא, Job 30:6, to be driven forth with a whip, after which the lxx renders it μάστιγες, Symm. πλῆκται, and the Targum conterentes me verbis suis; cf. הכּה בּלשׂון, Jeremiah 18:18. But נכים cannot by itself mean smiters with the tongue. The adjective נכה signifies elsewhere with רגלים, one who is smitten in the feet, i.e., one who limps or halts, and with רוּח, but also without any addition, in Isaiah 16:7, one smitten in spirit, i.e., one deeply troubled or sorrowful. Thus, therefore, נכים from נכה, like גּאים from גּאה, may mean smitten, men, i.e., men who are brought low or reduced (Hengstenberg). It might also, after the Arabic nawika, to be injured in mind, anwak, stupid, silly (from the same root נך, to prick, smite, wound, cf. ichtalla, to be pierced through equals mad), be understood as those mentally deranged, enraged at nothing or without cause. But the former definition of the notion of the word is favoured by the continuation of the idea of the verbal adjective נכים by ולא ידעתּי, persons of whom I have hitherto taken no notice because they were far removed from me, i.e., men belonging to the dregs of the people (cf. Job 19:18; Job 30:1). The addition of ולא ידעתי certainly makes Olshausen's conjecture that we should read נכרים somewhat natural; but the expression then becomes tautological, and there are other instances also in which psalm-poesy goes beyond the ordinary range of words, in order to find language to describe that which is loathsome, in the most glaring way. פרע, to tear, rend in pieces, viz., with abusive and slanderous words (like Arab. qr‛ II) also does not occur anywhere else.

And what remarkable language we now meet with in Psalm 35:16! מעוג does not mean scorn or buffoonery, as Bttcher and Hitzig imagine,

(Note: The Talmudic עגה (לשׁון), B. Sanhedrin 101b, which is said to mean "a jesting way of speaking," has all the less place here, as the reading wavers between עגה (עגא) and אגא.)

but according to 1 Kings 17:12, a cake of a round formation (like the Talmudic עגּה, a circle); לעג, jeering, jesting. Therefore לעגי מעוג means: mockers for a cake, i.e., those who for a delicate morsel, for the sake of dainty fare, make scornful jokes, viz., about me, the persecuted one, vile parasites; German Tellerlecker, Bratenriecher, Greek κνισσοκόλακες, ψωμοκόλακες, Mediaeval Latin buccellarii. This לעגי מלוג, which even Rashi interprets in substantially the same manner, stands either in a logical co-ordinate relation (vid., on Isaiah 19:11) or in a logical as well as grammatical subordinate relation to its regens חנפי. In the former case, it would be equivalent to: the profane, viz., the cake-jesters; in the latter, which is the more natural, and quite suitable: the profane ( equals the profanest, vid., Psalm 45:13; Isaiah 29:19; Ezekiel 7:24) among cake-jesters. The בּ is not the Beth of companionship or fellowship, to express which עם or את (Hosea 7:5) would have been used, but Beth essentiae or the Beth of characterisation: in the character of the most abject examples of this class of men do they gnash upon him with their teeth. The gerund חרק (of the noise of the teeth being pressed together, like Arab. ḥrq, of the crackling of a fire and the grating of a file), which is used according to Ges. 131, 4, b, carries its subject in itself. They gnash upon him with their teeth after the manner of the profanest among those, by whom their neighbour's honour is sold for a delicate morsel.

Psalm 35:11 Interlinear
Psalm 35:11 Parallel Texts

Psalm 35:11 NIV
Psalm 35:11 NLT
Psalm 35:11 ESV
Psalm 35:11 NASB
Psalm 35:11 KJV

Psalm 35:11 Bible Apps
Psalm 35:11 Parallel
Psalm 35:11 Biblia Paralela
Psalm 35:11 Chinese Bible
Psalm 35:11 French Bible
Psalm 35:11 German Bible

Bible Hub

Psalm 35:10
Top of Page
Top of Page