Psalm 35:8
May ruin befall them by surprise; may the net they hid ensnare them; may they fall into the hazard they created.
Full AssurancePsalm 35:8
Heaven Made Sure, or the Certainty of SalvationT. Adams.Psalm 35:8
Saved or UnsavedW. Birch.Psalm 35:8
Soul SalvationW. Birch.Psalm 35:8
Battle and VictoryC. Short Psalm 35:1-10
A Hard Case - a Very Hard One - Laid Before GodC. Clemance Psalm 35:1-28
The Flesh and the SpiritW. Forsyth Psalm 35:1-28

This is one of those psalms in which the writers often meet with much scolding and with scant sympathy. It has been said that this psalm is not worthy of David. We are not prepared to say so: but we are prepared to contend that many of the criticisms passed on it are utterly unworthy of those who thus criticize. If we will but study the whole psalm in all its bearings while we may not feel called on to justify every expression therein, we shall feel bound to regard fairly those circumstances of extreme hardship by which such expressions were called forth. We may have the case before us, if we "open up' the contents of the psalm in the following threefold order.

I. THE CASE SHOULD BE ADEQUATELY STUDIED. Beyond all question, it is a hard one, almost more than flesh and blood could bear. We will look at it:

1. As between David and his enemies. A bare enumeration of its main features (of which there are seven) will suffice. He was waylaid without cause (ver. 7). False witnesses spake maliciously against him (ver. 11). They actually rewarded evil for good (ver. 12). In their trouble David had behaved himself as their friend or brother (vers. 13, 14). In his trouble the enemies manifested a malicious joy (vers. 15, 16). Their malice was not against him only, but against others also (ver. 20). And not only so, but against the entire cause of righteousness of which David was the representative, their rage and hatred were directed (ver. 22). Now let us look at the case:

2. As between David and his God. How does he plead with Jehovah? He prays that God himself would interpose, and come into conflict with those who thus afflicted him (vers. 1, 2, 3, 17, 22, 23); that God would manifest himself as David's Deliverer (ver 3); that the wicked might be thoroughly put to shame; that their way might be dark and slippery, etc. (vers. 4, 5, 6, 8, 26); that God would reveal his delivering grace (ver. 10); that David and those who favoured his righteous cause might rejoice in God's salvation (ver. 9); that God would execute righteousness and judgment (ver. 24); that he would not permit the malicious joy of the enemy to continue (vers. 19, 25); that the righteous might yet shout for joy at the triumph of their cause (ver. 27); and that with their joy David himself might blend his own (ver. 28). Now, when we thus set the whole psalm before us, and note how grievous is the case which was thus laid before God, and how varied are the forms of petition in which that is done, we cannot but feel amazed at the harsh estimate of David in which some of his critics have indulged. If David was too harsh in speaking of the wicked, his critics are afortiori far too harsh in their treatment of him. Let us therefore note


1. Negatively.

(1) The words of this psalm are not the words of God to man, but words of man to God: this is an all-important distinction to make in dealing with the Psalms.

(2) No man can, no man ever could, pray beyond the level of his own spiritual attainment.

(3) Hence it is not necessary that we should attempt to justify every word in the ending of an Old Testament saint, any more than we should attempt to do so in the prayers of God's people now. But it may be said, "David was a prophet." True, and when he professed to give out God's word to him, we accept such word implicitly. But that is not the case here. He is not praying as a prophet, but as a troubled saint.

(4) This prayer, with the imprecations it contains, is by no means illustrative of the spirit of the Mosaic dispensation, but only of the degree to which a man who could pray like this, actually fell below the spirit of the dispensation under which he lived. Here we are compelled to differ sharply from Bishop Perowne and others who regard this psalm as indicative of the contrast between the morality of the Old Testament and New Testament dispensations. Though in the Scriptures, revelation is progressive, yet the morality enjoined in the Old Testament is precisely the same as that enjoined in the New. So our Lord teaches (Matthew 22:36-40; Matthew 5:17, 18). In the Sermon on the Mount our Lord tears off the wrappings with which "they of old time" had concealed the teachings of the Mosaic Law, and restores that Law to its pristine integrity and glory, on his own authority. But in the psalm before us we have not Old Testament morality as given by God, but Old Testament morality as far as attained by the writer. Many a modern representative of religion would sanction the cutting down of Zulus by the thousand in war. What should we say if any one declared that to be New Testament morality, when it was only that individual presenting his own view of it? So with this and other imprecatory psalms; they give us, not God's precept, but man's defective prayers. At the same time, while we do not justify these maledictions of David, we are bound in all fairness also to put the matter:

2. Positively.

(1) Here is a case of extreme provocation.

(2) David was a king.

(3) As such, he was not a merely private individual, but the representative of God's cause.

(4) Hence his petitions are not those of personal vindictiveness; they are the passionate cries of one who yearns for God's vindication of the right. For we see at once the reason why, and the limit within which, he prays for vengeance on his enemies.

(5) Whoever, owing to an inadequate study of the psalm, cherishes sympathy with David's enemies rather than with him, is grievously unjust. But we can not only free the case from being any stumbling-block to faith, we may even turn it to good account. Form


1. How great is the mercy that wronged saints can look up to God as the Avenger of their cause (Luke 18:1-8)!

2. There is a very great difference between a private feeling of vindictiveness, and the indignation felt at a great public wrong. It would be wicked of us to cherish the first; it would be wicked of us not to cherish the second.

3. Whatever the case of wrong we have to lay before God, we may tell it to him just as we feel it. He is a loving Friend to whom we may unburden everything without any danger of being misunderstood.

4. If in our putting of the case before God, we say anything wrong or wrongly, God will forgive what is wrong in our prayers, and will answer them in his own way, often doing "exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think."

5. Hence we may leave the method of vindicating the right and of shaming the wrong, entirely in the hands of God. Such expressions as those in Vers. 4, 5, 6, 8 would ill become us (cf. Romans 12:19, 20).

6. Nevertheless, it is perfectly true that severity to evil-doers is sometimes the greatest mercy to the Church of God (Acts 5:1-11).

7. God, even now, very often answers the agonizing prayers of saints by "terrible things in righteousness" (Psalm 65:5; Revelation 8:3-5).

8. If we do not so far sympathize with the spirit of this and other imprecatory psalms as to yearn to see righteousness triumphant and wickedness put to shame, we are fearfully guilty before God, and are sinking immeasurably below the morality and public spirit of those very psalms which are so unfairly criticized and so thoughtlessly condemned. To plead for the victory of righteousness and for the crushing and shaming of iniquity is a necessity of a good man's nature. He cannot help it. Yea, one petition in the Lord's Prayer involves the whole, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." And more than this, no one understands the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, who looks at it as providing only for the present forgiveness of individual souls: it is a grand and glorious plan for the inbringing of universal and everlasting righteousness; and when the Saviour's blood moistened earth's soil, it guaranteed that earth should be rescued from the destroyer, that the hosts of ill should be exposed and put to shame, and that Christ should wear the everlasting crown. - C.

Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
I. THE EARNEST ENTREATY OF A TROUBLED SOUL. It was said of the great Sir Isaac Newton that he had a white soul, so pure was it. But this can be said of very few. They do not feel their need of salvation. When you become awakened it is a crisis of your life. You begin to ask concerning things whether they be right or wrong. Your conscience is tender and sensitive. And you must hear for yourself. "Say unto my soul" — so reads the text. But whose soul? Why, the soul of every man who desires salvation.

II. THE BOON DESIRED. It is salvation. Our Lord Jesus is willing to save all men. More willing than the men in the lifeboat to save the people from the wreck. Sometimes the lifeboat dare not venture out to sea; but there is never a time when the Lord Jesus will refuse to save shipwrecked souls. I was much touched to hear a lifeboat man say, that at a certain wreck off the Orme's Head, near Llandudno, when the lifeboat put off to save the passengers and sailors of the vessel in distress, it was impossible to take all of them into the boat, and many were left. The men would have gladly saved all, but their boat was not large enough. Now, our Lord can save all mankind. And He will save us from our faults as well as from our sins. And you need this, for faults will grow up into sins if not rooted out.

III. THE CERTAINTY OF GOD DOING THIS. He says "I am thy salvation." What God says, can and will be done. It is not "I may," or "I could" do this; but I am thy salvation." If God can make a world so beautiful as this, can He not purify our souls? If He can tint the flower and make it lovely, cannot He redeem us from all iniquity?

IV. THERE IS A PERSONAL ASSURANCE OF SALVATION. "Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation." Hannah More once said that if we preach about a privilege and do not mention the person who should have the privilege, it is like putting a letter into the post-office without any direction upon it. If you want this salvation, it is ready; but for whom is it intended? For every creature, and it is particularly addressed to you. Jesus did not say, "Go into all the world and save nations," but "Go into all the world and preach the good news to every creature." So, this salvation is meant for you. Then, when you are saved, your example shall bless the world. But until you are saved, your example is worth very little.

(W. Birch.)

Many enemies were round David, but he feels there is only one thing God needs to do to make him strong. Let but God say unto his soul, "I am thy salvation," and he will defy them all.


1. Some say it is better a man should stand in jeopardy, better for him to have doubts and fears.

2. Others say full assurance cannot be had. But it is possible, and has been enjoyed by many. If it were impossible, would we, as here, be told to pray for it? Romanists and formalists object; the former because it would do away with Purgatory, and the latter because they want no one to be better than themselves.

3. Others because some have pretended to it who have never been saved.

4. Or because they think the doctrine makes men careless. But confidence of success stimulates exertion, and realizing assurance overcomes all difficulties.

5. Others who trust in their good feelings would have us groan in the Lord always. Of all the Diabolians, Mr. Live-by-feeling was one of the worst.

II. THE TEXT ITSELF. It seems to say —

1. That David had his doubts, or he would not have thus prayed.

2. But he was not content to remain in doubt.

3. And he knew where to obtain full assurance. Then take each word of the text and note its force. It is by His word, and by His ministers, and by His Holy Spirit, God says this to the soul.

III. HEAR THE PREACHER. He would speak to those who neither know nor care to know that they are saved; beware of your condition, for it is full of peril. And what folly on your part, for you have soon to die. And though you may not now feel it, you are most miserable. But do you wish to be saved? Then Christ is for thee.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

The words contain a petition for a benediction. The supplicant is a king, and his humble suit is to the King of kings: the king of Israel prays to the King of heaven and earth. He doth beg two things: —

1. That God would save him.

2. That God would certify him of it. So that the text may be distributed accordingly into salvation, and the assurance of it. The matter is assurance; the manner, how assured: "Say unto my soul."


1. That salvation may be made sure to a man. David would never pray for that which could not be. Nor would St. Peter charge us with a duty which stood not in possibility to be performed (2 Peter 1:10). "Make your election sure." Paul directly proves it (2 Corinthians 13:5), "Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" We may then know that Christ is in us.

2. That the best saints have desired to make their salvation sure. David that knew it, yet entreats to know it more (Psalm 41:11). "I know thou favourest me;" yet here still, "Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation." A man can never be too sure of his going to heaven. If we purchase an estate here, we make it as sure, and our tenure as strong, as the brawn of the law or the brains of the lawyer can devise. Now from this desire of David we draw matter —(1) Of consolation. Even he desired better assurance. Sometimes a dear saint may want feeling of the spirit of comfort. But God doth sometimes hide from men this comfort — to extend their desires, to enlarge their joys when they shall again find the consolation they thought lost. To try whether we will serve God gratis, though we get nothing for it (Job 1:9). To make us more careful of this comfort when we have it.(2) Of reprehension to others who are thinking all is well when it is not so.(3) Of instruction, teaching us to keep the even way of comfort; eschewing both the rock of presumption on the right hand, and the gulf of desperation on the left. Let us neither be over-bold nor over-fainting, but endeavour by faith to assure ourselves of Jesus Christ, and by repentance to assure ourselves of faith, and by an amended life to assure ourselves of repentance. For they must here live to God's glory that would hereafter live in God's glory.

3. In the next place, observe the means how we may come by this assurance. This is discovered in the text, "Say unto my soul."

4. Such assurance is the sweetest comfort that can come to a man in this life. There is no potion of misery so embittered with gall but this can sweeten it with a comfortable relish. When enemies assault us, get us under, triumph over us, imagining that salvation itself cannot save us, what is our comfort? "I know whom I have believed;" I am sure the Lord will not forsake me. What state can there be wherein the stay of this heavenly assurance gives us not peace and joy?

II. THE MANNER. "Say unto my soul." God bath spoken —

1. By His own voice (Genesis 3:8; Deuteronomy 4:15; John 12:28; 2 Peter 1:17).

2. By His works (Psalm 19:1).

3. By His Son (Hebrews 1:1).

4. By the Scriptures (Romans 15:4). Oh that we had hearts to bless God for His mercy, that the Scriptures are among us, and that not sealed up under an unknown tongue!

5. God speaks by His ministers, expounding and opening to us those Scriptures. These are dispensers of the mysteries of heaven. This voice is continually sounding in our churches, beating upon our ears; I would it could pierce our consciences, and that our lives would echo to it in an answerable obedience. How great should be our thankfulness! Let us not say of this blessing, as Lot of Zoar, "Is it not a little one?" nor be weary of manna with Israel, lest God's voice grow dumb unto us, and, to our woe, we hear it speak no more. No, rather let our hearts answer with Samuel (1 Samuel 3:10), "Speak, Lord, for thy servants hear." If we will not hear Him say to our souls, "I am your salvation," we shall hear Him say, "Depart from Me, I know you not."

6. God speaks by His Spirit: this "Spirit beareth witness with our spirit," etc. Perhaps this is that "voice behind us" (Isaiah 30:21), as it were, whispering to our thoughts, "This is the way, walk in it." It is the Church's prayer (Song of Solomon 1:2). The Holy Ghost is the kiss of God the Father. Whom God kisseth, He loveth. Now by all these ways doth God speak peace to our consciences, and say to our souls that He is our salvation: "I am thy salvation." — The petition is ended. I will but look into the benediction, wherein I should consider these four circumstances: Who, What, To whom, When. Who? — The Lord. He alone can (Hosea 13:9). What? — Salvation. A special good thing: every man's desire, though he be running hellward. Man would be blessed, though he takes the course to be cursed. I will give thee a lordship, saith God to Esau. I will give thee a kingdom, said God to Saul. I will give thee an apostleship, saith God to Judas. But, I will be thy salvation, He says to David, and to none but saints. To Whom? — My soul. Not others' only, but mine. When? — In time present. "I am." To conclude: it is salvation our prophet desires. Not riches. He that prefers riches before his soul doth but sell the horse to buy the saddle, or kill a good horse to catch a hare. He begs not honour: many have leapt from the high throne to the low pit. The greatest commander on earth hath not a foot of ground in heaven, except he can get it by entitling himself to Christ. He desires not pleasures; he knows there are as great miseries beyond prosperity as on this side it. And that all vanity is but the indulgence of the present time; a minute begins, continues, ends it: for it endures but the acting, and leaves no solace in the memory. In the fairest garden of delights there is somewhat that stings in the midst of all vain contents. The Christian seeks "that better part which shall never be taken from him."

(T. Adams.)

Our text brings to our view the soul of man, and, whilst preaching therefrom, I also will try to show some of the causes of the apparent failure of Christianity. It is not Christianity which is at fault, but Christians who are not Christlike.


1. A large portion of the community is deceived by riches. They think all their happiness lies in what riches can give. Hence they toil early and late; they think about nothing else. But when they get rich they are never satisfied. I do not ask for an equal distribution of wealth, but I call upon the rich to be trustees for the world, and to say, "Lord, all that I have is Thine; how shall I use it for Thy glory, and for the good of my fellow-men?" Another cause of the apparent failure of Christianity is —

2. The errors of many teachers and ministers.

3. A third cause is the unreasonableness of scepticism. Christianity has blessed the lives of all who believed in it. It has made the drunkard sober, the thief honest, and has delivered men from the power of darkness into God's marvellous light. The path of Christ's truth will Carry the world to peace and happiness, if they will but walk therein.

4. The last cause which I shall mention is that people hold false notions about God. Many men think if they pay a large sum to a church, or to some good cause, God will smile upon them. And the unfortunate one who, time after time, relapses into sin believes God cannot forgive one who falls so often. "He may forgive and bless those who live righteously, but can He bless me?" He can: He is waiting to bless thee.

II. We have now to notice AS EARNEST DESIRE. David, remembering the past, and fearing for the future, earnestly desires soul salvation. "Oh God! say unto my soul, 'I am thy salvation.'"

1. He desires salvation from the burden of sin. Even as a man working in a coal-pit, upon whom the earth has fallen, earnestly cries for help, so the Christian is in agony to be saved from the burden with which his sins have fallen upon his memory and his conscience.

2. We also have here an earnest desire for salvation from the power of sin. In the sad days of American slavery, I have read of a maiden being bought by a very wicked man for purposes of sin and shame, and she, weeping, as she was dragged along the road to his estate, shrieked piteously for a deliverer. Poor thing! the law gave the monster the power over her. But how different when we in the bondage of sin, cry out to God for help. Christ comes and delivers his people from the power of sin.

III. THE DELIGHTFUL EXPECTATION OF THE TEXT. It is to have God's voice to be heard in the soul. "Say unto my soul, 'I am thy salvation.'" There may be some here who cannot find peace and holiness, and who now cry for salvation. Losing your way whilst wandering in an underground cavern and your light burning out, it is delightful to hear the guide in the distance cry, "All right, my friend, I know where you are, and will lead you safely out." Likewise the promise is, "The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly return to His temple." Pray on, hope on, believe on. You shall hear His voice, for He hath promised.

(W. Birch.)

David, Psalmist
Catch, Catcheth, Desolation, Destruction, Ensnare, Entangle, Fall, Falleth, Falling, Hid, Hidden, Knoweth, Meet, Net, Nets, Overtake, Pit, Ruin, Secret, Surprise, Themselves, Therein, Unawares
1. David prays for his own safety, and his enemies' confusion
11. He complains of their wrongful dealing
22. Thereby he incites God against them

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Psalm 35:4-10

     5830   delight

Psalm 35:7-8

     4257   pit

Specific References to Prophecy in the Gospels
20. But, if it does not weary you, let the point out as briefly as possible, specific references to prophecy in the Gospels, that those who are being instructed in the first elements of the faith may have these testimonies written on their hearts, lest any doubt concerning the things which they believe should at any time take them by surprise. We are told in the Gospel that Judas, one of Christ's friends and associates at table, betrayed Him. Let the show you how this is foretold in the Psalms: "He
Various—Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.

Historical Summary and Chronological Tables.
a.d. 340. Birth of St. Ambrose (probably at Trèves), youngest son of Ambrose, Prefect of the Gauls. Constantine II. killed at Aquileia. Death of Eusebius. 341. Seventh Council of Antioch. Second exile of St. Athanasius. 343. Photinus begins teaching his heresy. 347. Birth of St. John Chrysostom. Council of Sardica. St. Athanasius restored. 348. Birth of Prudentius the Christian poet. 349. Synod of Sirmium against Photinus. 350. Death of the Emperor Constans. St. Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers.
St. Ambrose—Works and Letters of St. Ambrose

The Sixth Commandment
Thou shalt not kill.' Exod 20: 13. In this commandment is a sin forbidden, which is murder, Thou shalt not kill,' and a duty implied, which is, to preserve our own life, and the life of others. The sin forbidden is murder: Thou shalt not kill.' Here two things are to be understood, the not injuring another, nor ourselves. I. The not injuring another. [1] We must not injure another in his name. A good name is a precious balsam.' It is a great cruelty to murder a man in his name. We injure others in
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

The Ninth Commandment
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.' Exod 20: 16. THE tongue which at first was made to be an organ of God's praise, is now become an instrument of unrighteousness. This commandment binds the tongue to its good behaviour. God has set two natural fences to keep in the tongue, the teeth and lips; and this commandment is a third fence set about it, that it should not break forth into evil. It has a prohibitory and a mandatory part: the first is set down in plain words, the other
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

Question of the Comparison Between the Active and the Contemplative Life
I. Is the Active Life preferable to the Contemplative? Cardinal Cajetan, On Preparation for the Contemplative Life S. Augustine, Confessions, X., xliii. 70 " On Psalm xxvi. II. Is the Active Life more Meritorious than the Contemplative? III. Is the Active Life a Hindrance to the Contemplative Life? Cardinal Cajetan, On the True Interior Life S. Augustine, Sermon, CCLVI., v. 6 IV. Does the Active Life precede the Contemplative? I Is the Active Life preferable to the Contemplative? The Lord
St. Thomas Aquinas—On Prayer and The Contemplative Life

After the Scripture.
"In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God created He him."--Gen. v. 1. In the preceding pages we have shown that the translation, "in Our image," actually means, "after Our image." To make anything in an image is no language; it is unthinkable, logically untrue. We now proceed to show how it should be translated, and give our reason for it. We begin with citing some passages from the Old Testament in which occurs the preposition "B" which, in Gen. i. 27, stands before image, where
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

Opposition to Messiah Unreasonable
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD , and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. I t is generally admitted, that the institutes of Christianity, as contained in the New Testament, do at least exhibit a beautiful and salutary system of morals; and that a sincere compliance with the precepts of our Lord and His apostles,
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2

Notes on the Third Century
Page 161. Line 1. He must be born again, &c. This is a compound citation from John iii. 3, and Mark x. 15, in the order named. Page 182. Line 17. For all things should work together, &c. See Romans viii. 28. Page 184. Lines 10-11. Being Satan is able, &c. 2 Corinthians xi. 14. Page 184. Last line. Like a sparrow, &c. Psalm cii. Page 187. Line 1. Mechanisms. This word is, in the original MS., mechanicismes.' Page 187. Line 7. Like the King's daughter, &c. Psalm xlv. 14. Page 188. Med. 39. The best
Thomas Traherne—Centuries of Meditations

Concerning Persecution
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10 We are now come to the last beatitude: Blessed are they which are persecuted . . '. Our Lord Christ would have us reckon the cost. Which of you intending to build a tower sitteth not down first and counteth the cost, whether he have enough to finish it?' (Luke 14:28). Religion will cost us the tears of repentance and the blood of persecution. But we see here a great encouragement that may
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

The piety of the Old Testament Church is reflected with more clearness and variety in the Psalter than in any other book of the Old Testament. It constitutes the response of the Church to the divine demands of prophecy, and, in a less degree, of law; or, rather, it expresses those emotions and aspirations of the universal heart which lie deeper than any formal demand. It is the speech of the soul face to face with God. Its words are as simple and unaffected as human words can be, for it is the genius
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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