Theme: David’s Advocate
In this week’s lessons we learn how to handle slander and mistreatment in a righteous way, both against ourselves and others.
Scripture: Psalm 35:1-28
Part Two: A Lawsuit. In the second part of the psalm (vv. 11-18) the image changes to that of a lawsuit, and the problem here is that David’s enemies are slandering him, just as, in the previous section, they had been scheming against his life. Is this literal? Probably! For even if there was no actual lawsuit—we have no record of anyone being able literally to bring a suit against the king—the slander was no doubt real, and David is pleading to the Lord to be his advocate.
What chiefly bothered David is that he was being slandered by people to whom he had behaved without reproach. More than that, he had gone out of his way to be kind to them. When they were sick, David interceded for them with “sackcloth,” a sign of mourning, and with “fasting.” When his prayers on their behalf were not immediately answered, he assumed the role of a mourner (vv. 13, 14). He did good to these people (v. 12). What about them? For their part, they returned “evil for good” (v. 12). They accused him of things he knew nothing about (v. 11). And when he got into some unspecified trouble, they gathered around him gleefully to mock at his misfortune (vv. 15, 16). In verse 17 David calls on God to rescue him from “these lions,” and in verse 18 he says that he is going to thank God for doing so.
Part Three. Deliverance. In the last of these three sections (vv. 19-28) the images of a military threat and a lawsuit come together, which make us think that the two might have been parts of a single complex plot to unseat him. The plot had apparently met with some success, for the note struck in this section is his enemies gloating. They were doing that already in section two (vv. 15, 16). Now the word “gloat” appears three times (in vv. 19, 24, 26) to describe their vicious actions.
Nothing hurts quite so much as this. Defeat we can usually handle. But when people rejoice in our failures or mock us in our defeats the wounds are more than doubled. It is almost more than we can bear.
Our only defense in such times is the Lord, who sees what is happening and can be counted on to vindicate us in due time. There is an interesting way of stating this in verses 21 and 22. In verse 21 David’s enemies are speaking gleefully, saying, “Aha! Aha! With our own eyes we have seen it.” This refers to the “false accusations” of the previous verse. It means that they are claiming to have seen a wrong that never happened. But notice verse 22. Here David appeals to God’s omniscience, saying, “O LORD, you have seen this.” In other words, God has seen the facts of the case, and these include not only David’s innocence but also that he is being falsely accused and slandered. Surely the Judge of all the universe will do right. God will rise to his defense and contend for him (v. 22).
In the last three verses David wraps the psalm up, asking that those who have gloated over him might be put to confusion while those who delight in his eventual vindication should be present to join him in singing God’s praise. As for himself, he says, “My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long” (v. 28).
What is probably meant by David’s reference to a lawsuit?
What made this treatment against David particularly difficult?
Application: Have you ever been mistreated and slandered without cause, perhaps even by Christians? How did the Lord help you to move past it and leave any future vindication and judgment to him?