The Flesh and the Spirit
Psalm 35:1-28
Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.…

This psalm has been variously interpreted. Some say David speaks here representatively, not for himself, but for the community of Israel Others say that he speaks prophetically, and with special reference to the days of Messiah. Others again hold that he speaks as a holy man, moved by the Holy Spirit to record the feelings that had passed through his own heart in time of trial. This last seems the more reasonable interpretation.

I. First it agrees best with THE METHOD OF INSPIRATION. The object of inspiration is truth. It is not necessary that what is perfect should alone be recorded, but it is that the record itself should be perfect. Besides, there is undoubtedly an advance in the New Testament from the Old, both as respects the spirit of the prophets, and the greatness of the truths revealed.

II. Further, this view agrees best with THE ANALOGY OF HOLY SCRIPTURE. In Job and Ecclesiastes and elsewhere there are different speakers, and they do not all speak the same thing. There is diversity of opinion, and high debate. We have to walk circumspectly. We have to discriminate, lest we should take the devil's lie or the counsel of fallible men for the eternal truth of God (Job 2:4; Job 42:7). So of the Psalms. The record is true, but all that is recorded is not truth. There ate various phases of thought and feeling, of character and life. Even the same speaker does not ways keep the same level; at one time he may cry, "I was as a beast before thee." and almost with the same breath, "Whom have I in heaven but thee?" (Psalm 73:22, 25).

III. Again, this view accords best with THE FACTS OF DAVID'S LIFE. He was not a perfect man; and who so ready to confess this as himself? Look at the historical parts of Scripture, and you find him saying and doing things far from righteousness. Why should he be judged differently when he speaks in poetry than when he speaks in prose? Is it not reasonable to take what he says, in the one case as in the other, as the honest expression of his heart, and to judge it by the same standard? No doubt the Psalms are to be regarded as spoken in moments of highest religious consecration; but if David is to be held as always speaking in the Psalms as a perfect man, it will be hard to bring the facts into harmony with the other facts of his life, and, moreover, the effect would be to remove the psalms from the sphere of ordinary experience, and to empty them of much of their sweetness and virtue. Delitzsch has said that "this whole psalm is as it were the lyrical amplification of that which David says when face to face with Saul in 1 Samuel 24:16." Looking at it in this light, it seems the story of a soul's conflict - the struggle of the spirit against the flesh - painful and severe, with risings and failings, till at last peace is attained. It begins with a passionate cry to God for justice, and the language, full of fire and impetuosity, is such as would naturally rise to the lips of a man of war. His imagination works in the line of his desires, and pictures an overthrow of his enemies, quick and terrible. Their destruction would be his "salvation," and for this he would rejoice and give God thanks vers. 9, 10). In the second part of the psalm he reverts W the cruel treatment he had received, but speaks of it with more calmness - more in sorrow than in anger. He remembers how he had tried to be patient, how he had restrained himself, and returned good for evil. But it had been in vain. Brooding upon this, his heart again rises in wrath (ver. 17). But as he comes nearer to God, and feels more intensely the sweetness of God's love, he recovers more quietness. Once more the surges of passion rise, and he is in danger of being overwhelmed; but again he turns to God, his only Refuge, and casting himself upon his care, and committing things wholly to his hand, he enters into the rest of faith and hope and love. The portrait may be said to be true to life. We have not only the good, but the bad; not only love to man, but the struggle to keep that love; not only faith in God, but the difficulty of gaining the height of that faith, and of holding it when it had been won. Thus we have a record which harmonizes with the experience of God's saints of all ages from Abraham to Paul, and that is rich in instruction and comfort. Who is there who tries to follow Christ, but knows how hard it is to be patient under injustice, to forgive our enemies, and to pray for them who despitefully use us and persecute us? It is some comfort for us, as with Christian when sorely tried in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, to hear the voice of a brother, and to be able to say, each one to his soul, "that some who feared God were in this valley as well as himself." - W.F.

Parallel Verses
KJV: {A Psalm of David.} Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.

WEB: Contend, Yahweh, with those who contend with me. Fight against those who fight against me.

Battle and Victory
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