Psalm 35 (NIV & KJV): Text, Context, Themes, and More

Psalm 35 is a powerful expression of faith and trust in God.

In this article, we will explore the historical context, themes and significance of Psalm 35 and what it can teach us.

What is Psalm 35?

Psalm 35 is a psalm in the Book of Psalms, a collection of hymns and prayers in the Hebrew Bible.

The psalm is a prayer for help against one’s enemies and a call for justice. It expresses the psalmist’s trust in God to defend and vindicate him, and expresses a desire for God’s wrath to fall upon the psalmist’s enemies.

Its text reads as follows:

Psalm 35 (NIV – New International Version of the Bible)

1 Of David.
Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me.
2 Take up shield and armor;
arise and come to my aid.
3 Brandish spear and javelin
against those who pursue me.
Say to me, “I am your salvation.”
4 May those who seek my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
5 May they be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the Lord driving them away;
6 may their path be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
7 Since they hid their net for me without cause
and without cause dug a pit for me,
8 let destruction come upon them by surprise—
let the net they hid entangle them,
let them fall into the pit, to their ruin.
9 Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord
and delight in his salvation.
10 My whole being will exclaim,
“Who is like you, Lord?
You rescue the poor from those too strong for them,
the poor and needy from those who rob them.”

11 Ruthless witnesses come forward;
they question me on things I know nothing about.
12 They repay me evil for good
and leave me like one bereaved.
13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth
and humbled myself with fasting.
When my prayers returned to me unanswered,
14 I went about mourning
as though for my friend or brother.
I bowed my head in grief
as though weeping for my mother.
15 But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee;
attackers gathered against me
when I was unaware.
They slandered me without ceasing.
16 Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked;
they gnashed their teeth at me.

17 How long, Lord, will you look on?
Rescue me from their ravages,
my precious life from these lions.
18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly;
among the throngs I will praise you.
19 Do not let those gloat over me
who are my enemies without cause;
do not let those who hate me without reason
maliciously wink the eye.
20 They do not speak peaceably,
but devise false accusations
against those who live quietly in the land.
21 They sneer at me and say, “Aha!
Aha! With our own eyes
we have seen it.”

22 Lord, you have seen this;
do not be silent.
Do not be far from me, Lord.
23 Awake, and rise to my defense!
Contend for me, my God and Lord.
24 Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God;
do not let them gloat over me.
25 Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!”
or say, “We have swallowed him up.”
26 May all who gloat over my distress
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who exalt themselves over me
be clothed with shame and disgrace.
27 May those who delight in my vindication
shout for joy and gladness;
may they always say, “The Lord be exalted,
who delights in the well-being of his servant.”
28 My tongue will proclaim your righteousness,
your praises all day long.

Psalm 35 (KJV – King James Version of the Bible)

1 A Psalm of David.
Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me:
fight against them that fight against me.
2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
and stand up for mine help.
3 Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me:
say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
4 Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul:
let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.
5 Let them be as chaff before the wind:
and let the angel of the Lord chase them.
6 Let their way be dark and slippery:
and let the angel of the Lord persecute them.
7 For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit,
which without cause they have digged for my soul.
8 Let destruction come upon him at unawares;
and let his net that he hath hid catch himself:
into that very destruction let him fall.
9 And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord:
it shall rejoice in his salvation.
10 All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee,
which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him,
yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?

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.
19 Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me:
neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.
20 For they speak not peace:
but they devise deceitful matters
against them that are quiet in the land.
21 Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me,
and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.

22 This thou hast seen, O Lord:
keep not silence:
O Lord, be not far from me.
23 Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment,
even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.
24 Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness;
and let them not rejoice over me.
25 Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it:
let them not say, We have swallowed him up.
26 Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together
that rejoice at mine hurt:
let them be clothed with shame and dishonor
that magnify themselves against me.
27 Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favor my righteous cause:
yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified,
which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.
28 And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness
and of thy praise all the day long.

Context and Background

A Psalm of David

Psalm 35 is a psalm of David, who is considered the author of many of the psalms in the book of Psalms in the Bible. David was a king of Israel and a prophet who lived in the 10th century BCE. He was known for his musical and poetic skills, and his psalms express a range of emotions, from joy and gratitude to sadness and despair.

Historical context

In David’s time, the Israelites were a distinct group of people who lived in the region of Canaan, which later became known as Israel. They were ruled by a monarchy, and David was the second king of Israel. During his reign, David established the capital city of Jerusalem and brought the Ark of the Covenant to the city.

David’s life was characterized by both triumph and turmoil. He experienced great success as a military leader and was celebrated as a conqueror, but he also faced opposition and betrayal from those close to him. It is in this context that David wrote Psalm 35, which is a prayer for protection and deliverance from enemies.

Themes in Psalm 35

Psalm 35 contains several key themes, including:

Protection and deliverance from enemies

David calls upon God to protect him from those who seek to harm him and to deliver him from their plans. This theme of protection from enemies is a common one in the book of Psalms.

God’s righteousness and justice

David expresses his confidence in God’s righteousness and justice, and he calls upon God to judge and vindicate him against false accusations.

Trust in God

Despite the difficulties he faces, David trusts in God and calls upon Him for help. This theme of trust in God is a recurring one throughout the book of Psalms and the rest of the Bible.

Praise and gratitude

In the conclusion of the psalm, David expresses his desire to praise God for His salvation and to thank Him for His protection.

Innocence and righteousness

David asserts his innocence and righteous behavior, and he contrasts it with the deceit and false accusations of his enemies.

What is Psalm 35 used for?

Psalm 35 is used for various purposes in different religious and cultural contexts. Some of its common uses include:

  • Worship and Devotion: Psalm 35 is often recited, sung, or read as part of worship services and devotional practices in the Christian Church.
  • Bible Study and Reflection: It is frequently studied and reflected upon for its teachings about God’s protection, justice, and faithfulness, and for its encouragement to trust in God and to give thanks in all circumstances.
  • Prayer: Psalm 35 is used as a source of inspiration and guidance for prayer, particularly when facing difficulties, opposition, or false accusations.
  • Comfort and Encouragement: It is often used to offer comfort and encouragement to individuals facing personal struggles, as well as to the church and wider community.
  • Liturgical and Ritual Practice: Psalm 35 is included in liturgical and ritual practices in some religious traditions, including in the Catholic Church where it is recited or sung during the Liturgy of the Hours.

Significance of Psalm 35 today

Psalm 35 is significant today as it offers comfort and encouragement to individuals facing personal struggles, as well as to the church and wider community.

The psalm reminds us of God’s protection, justice, and faithfulness, encouraging us to trust in Him and to call upon Him for help. It also highlights God’s righteousness and justice, reminding us to give thanks and to express gratitude in all circumstances.

The psalm concludes with a call to praise and thank God for His salvation and protection. It is a powerful reminder of God’s love, mercy, and grace, and it encourages us to have confidence in Him, even in the face of opposition and false accusations.

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