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Psalm 35[a]

Prayer for Help Against Unjust Enemies

Of David.

I

[b]Oppose, O Lord, those who oppose me;
    war upon those who make war upon me.
Take up the shield and buckler;
    rise up in my defense.
Brandish lance and battle-ax
    against my pursuers.
Say to my soul,
    “I am your salvation.”
Let those who seek my life
    be put to shame and disgrace.
Let those who plot evil against me(A)
    be turned back and confounded.
Make them like chaff before the wind,(B)
    with the angel of the Lord driving them on.
Make their way slippery and dark,
    with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.

II

Without cause they set their snare for me;
    without cause they dug a pit for me.
Let ruin overtake them unawares;
    let the snare they have set catch them;
    let them fall into the pit they have dug.(C)

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Footnotes

  1. Psalm 35 A lament of a person betrayed by friends. The psalmist prays that the evildoers be publicly exposed as unjust (Ps 35:1–8), and gives thanks in anticipation of vindication (Ps 35:9–10). Old friends are the enemies (Ps 35:11–16). May their punishment come quickly (Ps 35:17–21)! The last part (Ps 35:22–26) echoes the opening in praying for the destruction of the psalmist’s persecutors. The Psalm may appear vindictive, but one must keep in mind that the psalmist is praying for public redress now of a public injustice. There is at this time no belief in an afterlife in which justice will be redressed.
  2. 35:1–6 The mixture of judicial, martial, and hunting images shows that the language is figurative. The actual injustice is false accusation of serious crimes (Ps 35:11, 15, 20–21). The psalmist seeks lost honor through a trial before God.

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