Verses 17–28

In these verses, as before,

I. David describes the great injustice, malice, and insolence, of his persecutors, pleading this with God as a reason why he should protect him from them and appear against them. 1. They were very unrighteous; they were his enemies wrongfully, for he never gave them any provocation: They hated h 2be1 im without a cause; nay, for that for which they ought rather to have loved and honoured him. This is quoted, with application to Christ, and is said to be fulfilled in him. John 15:25; They hated me without cause. 2. They were very rude; they could not find in their hearts to show him common civility: They speak not peace; if they met him, they had not the good manners to give him the time of day; like Joseph’s brethren, that could not speak peaceably to him, Gen. 37:4. 3. They were very proud and scornful (Ps. 35:21): They opened their mouth wide against me; they shouted and huzzaed when they saw his fall; they bawled after him when he was forced to quit the court, “Aha! aha! this is the day we longed to see.” 4. They were very barbarous and base, for they trampled upon him when he was down, rejoiced at his hurt, and magnified themselves against him, Ps. 35:26. Turba Remi sequitur fortunam, ut semper, et odit damnatos—The Roman crowd, varying their opinions with every turn of fortune, are sure to execrate the fallen. Thus, when the Son of David was run upon by the rulers, the people cried, Crucify him, crucify him. 5. They set themselves against all the sober good people that adhered to David (Ps. 35:20): They devised deceitful matters, to trepan and ruin those that were quiet in the land. Note, (1.) It is the character of the godly in the land that they are the quiet in the land, that they live in all dutiful subjection to government and governors, in the Lord, and endeavour, as much as in them lies, to live peaceably with all men, however they may have been misrepresented as enemies to Caesar and hurtful to kings and provinces. I am for peace, Ps. 120:7. (2.) Though the people of God are, and study to be, a quiet people, yet it has been the common practice of their enemies to devise deceitful matters against them. All the hellish arts of malice and falsehood are made use of to render them odious or despicable; their words and actions are misconstrued, even that which they abhor is fathered upon them, laws are made to ensnare them (Dan. 6:4), and all to ruin them and root them out. Those that hated David thought scorn, like Haman, to lay hands on him alone, but contrived to involve all the religious people of the land in the same ruin with him.

II. He appeals to God against them, the God to whom vengeance belongs, appeals to his knowledge (Ps. 35:22): This thou hast seen. They had falsely accused him, but God, who knows all things, knew that he did not falsely accuse them, nor make them worse than really they were. They had carried on their plots against him with a great degree of secresy (Ps. 35:15): “I knew it not, till long after, when they themselves gloried in it; but thy eye was upon them in their close cabals and thou art a witness of all they have said and done against me and thy people.” He appeals to God’s justice: Awake to my judgment, even to my cause, and let it have a hearing at thy bar, Ps. 35:23. “Judge me, O Lord my God! pass sentence upon this appeal, according to the righteousness of thy nature and government,” Ps. 35:24. See this explained by Solomon, 1 Kgs. 7:31, 32. When thou art appealed to, hear in heaven, and judge, by condemning the wicked and justifying the righteous.

III. He prays earnestly to God to appear graciously for him and his friends, against his and their enemies, that by his providence the struggle might issue to the honour and comfort of David and to the conviction and confusion of his persecutors. 1. He prays that God would act for him, and not stand by as a spectator (Ps. 35:17): “Lord, how long wilt thou look on? How long wilt thou connive at the wickedness of the wicked? Rescue my soul from the destructions they are plotting against it; rescue my darling, my only one, from the lions. My soul is my only one, and therefore the greater is the shame if I neglect it and the greater the loss if I lose it: it is my only one, and therefore ought to be my darling, ought to be carefully protected and provided for. It is my soul that is in danger; Lord, rescue it. It does, in a peculiar manner, belong to the Father of spirits, therefore claim thy own; it is thine, save it. Lord, keep not silence, as if thou didst consent to what is done against me! Lord, be not far from me (Ps. 35:22), as if I were a stranger that thou wert not concerned for; let not me beheld afar off, as the proud are.” 2. He prays that his enemies might not have cause to rejoice (Ps. 35:19): Let them not rejoice over me (and again, Ps. 35:24); not so much because it would be a mortification to him to be trampled upon the abjects, as because it would turn to the dishonour of God and the reproach of his confidence in God. It would harden the hearts of his enemies in their wickedness and confirm them in their enmity to him, and would be a great discouragement to all the pious Jews that were friends to his righteous cause. He prays that he might never be in such imminent danger as that they should say in their hearts, Ah! so would we have it (Ps. 35:25), much more that he might not be reduced to such extremity that they should say, We have swallowed him up; for then they will reflect upon God himself. But, on the contrary, that they might be ashamed and brought to confusion together (Ps. 35:26; as before, Ps. 35:4); he desires that his innocency might be so cleared that they might be ashamed of the calumnies with which they had loaded him, that his interest might be so confirmed that they might be ashamed of their designs against him and their expectations of his ruin, that they might either be brought to that shame which would be a step towards their reformation or that that might be their portion which would be their everlasting misery. 3. He prays that his friends might have cause to rejoice and give glory to God, Ps. 35:27. Notwithstanding the arts that were used to blacken David, and make him odious, and to frighten people from owning him, there were some that favoured his righteous cause, that knew he was wronged and bore a good affection to him; and he prays for them, (1.) That they might rejoice with him in his joys. It is a great pleasure to all that are good to see an honest man, and an honest cause, prevail and prosper; and those that heartily espouse the interests of God’s people, and are willing to take their lot with them even when they are run down and trampled upon, shall in due time shout for joy and be glad, for the righteous cause will at length be a victorious cause. (2.) That they might join with him in his praises: Let them say continually, The Lord be magnified, by us and others, who hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant. Note, [1.] The great God has pleasure in this prosperity of good people, not only of his family, the church in general, but of every particular servant in his family. He has pleasure in the prosperity both of their temporal and of their spiritual affairs, and delights not in their griefs; for he does not afflict willingly; and we ought therefore to have pleasure in their prosperity, and not to envy it. [2.] When God in his providence shows his good-will to the prosperity of his servants, and the pleasure he takes in it, we ought to acknowledge it with thankfulness, to his praise, and to say, The Lord be magnified.

IV. The mercy he hoped to win by prayer he promises to wear with praise: “I will give thee thanks, as the author of my deliverance (Ps. 35:18), and my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness, the justice of thy judgments and the equity of all thy dispensations;” and this, 1. Publicly, as one that took a pleasure in owning his obligations to his God, so far was he from being ashamed of them. He will do it in the great congregation, and among much people, that God might be honoured and many edified. 2. Constantly. He will speak God’s praise every day (so it may be read) and all the day long; for it is a subject that will never be exhausted, no, not by the endless praises of saints and angels.